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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, 8 Dec. 2011
This review is from: No Higher Honour (Hardcover)
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.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Nov 2012 14:04:39 GMT
Excellent review. I just purchased the book for my Kinlde and look forward to reading it soon. I find "self-serving memoirs" to be extremely useful. Everyone knows the facts so we start to wonder why "writers" of these books leave out certain events. It's more interesting.

I recently managed to get a cheap (and good quality) paperback of Bush's "Decision Points". It's very readable (and enjoyable), though chapter 14 on the financial crisis is venturing on comedy. Bush had no idea what he was doing. Or did he? $85 billion to Goldman Sachs via AIG (through Hank Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO, who may have had shares in Goldman).

I always got the impression that Cheney had more influence on (Fraterinty thing) Bush than Rice, at least according to other political books that I have read. Why do you think differently? I get the impression that Cheney (and Baker) were the power behind the presidential chair.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Nov 2012 16:40:29 GMT
Last edited by the author on 29 Nov 2012 16:42:19 GMT
The Consul says:
Thank you for your remarks.

I do not think differently. I do think that Cheney had more influence on Bush than did Rice. My point was that he [Cheney] must have been irritated by knowing that Rice had a unique entrée to Bush and used it to undermine the views of others - not always successfully, it has to be said.

By the way: I agree with the comments in your second para.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Dec 2012 12:32:39 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Dec 2012 12:40:12 GMT
Of further interest, someone just posted a reply to my review of Obama's) "Dreams of My Father" (take a look; I only gave it 1 star).

The writer of the comment claimed my review isn't a review but (anti-Obama) propoganda, claiming the quotes used in the review are not from the book.

They are, meaning that I have at least read the book, unlike the commentator.

I point to chapter 3 where Obama walks back into the US wearing a mask. I consider this to be a kind of (veiled) symbol pointing to Obama's dubious birth certificate. He's a fraud, and he's admitting he's a fraud. And he thinks nobody will notice!

I have nothing against Obama, Romney and McBain would have been even worse.

But isn't that the point of the American political system: there is no real choice and nothing really ever changes, unless the change is forced (JFK's assassination, Nixon's impeachment). And even then, the change is minimal, if any! There is always another bozo to step take over.
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