Top positive review
16 people found this helpful
on 8 December 2011
Dr Rice is undoubtedly a highly intelligent and gifted person who has had a demanding career in American political life. Her book is a fascinating insight into the demands and pressures on people who hold high office and have to make decisions that have far-reaching implications in a constantly changing world.
That said, however, the book is very much in the tradition of self-serving memoirs by people who have left high office: it is a vehicle for polishing one's own record and for settling old scores.
The book is much too detailed (766 pages) and reads like a committee's report of an official inquiry rather than a personal memoir. This should not come as a surprise, however, when you note in the acknowledgements section that she thanks her 'senior research assistant...who contributed to story lines...' ... and her 'invaluable research team' of four people, with 'important contributions' from seven others. She then thanks 'my team in California' including her 'new, indefatigable chief of staff', and several others including her 'longtime assistant' and 'others in my office' (five of them named). Quite a 'memoir'!
Although I read the massive tome from cover to cover I was surprised by some of Dr Rice's omissions. For example, she omitted to mention in her detailed account of the events of 9/11 that fifteen of the nineteen hijackers who flew the aircraft were Saudi nationals. No mention, either, of the dozens of Saudi nationals who scuttled back to Saudi Arabia from the US a few days after 9/11. Also, in her account of the events surrounding Joseph Wilson and his CIA wife, Valerie Plame, she does not mention that Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, was indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the leak of Plame's CIA cover.
To her credit, Dr Rice is honest enough to say several times that she was mistaken or that a particular policy was mistaken, or that she wished she had done something differently.
She gives several examples of her difficult relationship with Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. I am certainly not a fan of either of these individuals but it must also have been difficult for them dealing with her when they knew that she had almost continual access to George Bush and on a one-to-one basis. In fact, this close relationship with Bush, whom she clearly hero(ine) worships, might be said to cloud her objectivity at times. I was surprised at just how close this relationship was.
Still, if you want to read an account of the considerable stresses and strains of high office, shuttling around the world, and the frustrations of meeting and dealing with some very questionable people, then Dr Rice's book is well worth reading. But, set aside plenty of time to do so.