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Extended Audio Sample Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family, by Condoleezza Rice Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,363 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Condoleezza Rice Narrator: Condoleezza Rice Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2010 ISBN: 9780307750648
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Condoleezza Rice has excelled as a diplomat, political scientist, and concert pianist.  Her achievements run the gamut from helping to oversee the collapse of communism in Europe and the decline of the Soviet Union, to working to protect the country in the aftermath of 9-11, to becoming only the second woman - and the first black woman ever -- to serve as Secretary of State. 
 
But until she was 25 she never learned to swim.
 
Not because she wouldn't have loved to, but because when she was a little girl in Birmingham, Alabama, Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor decided he'd rather shut down the city's pools than give black citizens access.
 
Throughout the 1950's, Birmingham's black middle class largely succeeded in insulating their children from the most corrosive effects of racism, providing multiple support systems to ensure the next generation would live better than the last.  But by 1963, when Rice was applying herself to her fourth grader's lessons, the situation had grown intolerable.  Birmingham was an environment where blacks were expected to keep their head down and do what they were told -- or face violent consequences. That spring two bombs exploded in Rice’s neighborhood amid a series of chilling Klu Klux Klan attacks.  Months later, four young girls lost their lives in a particularly vicious bombing.
 
So how was Rice able to achieve what she ultimately did?
 
Her father, John, a minister and educator, instilled a love of sports and politics.  Her mother, a teacher, developed Condoleezza’s passion for piano and exposed her to the fine arts.  From both, Rice learned the value of faith in the face of hardship and the importance of giving back to the community.  Her parents’ fierce unwillingness to set limits propelled her to the venerable halls of Stanford University, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become the university’s second-in-command.  An expert in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs, she played a leading role in U.S. policy as the Iron Curtain fell and the Soviet Union disintegrated.  Less than a decade later, at the apex of the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, she received the exciting news – just shortly before her father’s death – that she would go on to the White House as the first female National Security Advisor. 
 
As comfortable describing lighthearted family moments as she is recalling the poignancy of her mother’s cancer battle and the heady challenge of going toe-to-toe with Soviet leaders, Rice holds nothing back in this remarkably candid telling. This is the story of Condoleezza Rice that has never been told, not that of an ultra-accomplished world leader, but of a little girl – and a young woman -- trying to find her place in a sometimes hostile world and of two exceptional parents, and an extended family and community, that made all the difference. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • [R]ecords a thrilling, inspiring life of achievement. Publishers Weekly
  • "Looking for a blow-by-blow account of Condoleezza Rice’s years as George W. Bush’s secretary of state? You would do well to find one of the many Rice biographies already on the shelves. In this remarkably clear-eyed and candid autobiography, Rice focuses instead on her fascinating coming-of-age during the stormy civil rights years in Birmingham, Alabama. Bookpage

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna | 2/18/2014

    " Very interesting. I listened to this book as an audiobook, and it was lovely to hear Condoleezza reading it herself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bonni | 2/5/2014

    " I have always liked reading biographies and autobiographies as long as they are interesting, clean, and well-written. This one fit the mold. My only complaint is that the chapter titles made the content of the book so predictable. Because I didn't know anything about Condolezza Rice before picking up the book, there were a lot of events that could have suprised me and kept my interest in the book had they not been given away in the chapter titles. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable to read a good book about quality people with strong moral and family values. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 1/31/2014

    " really interesting, especially her recounting of the dissolution of the Soviet Union during Pres. Bush (the first one) presidency. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Theideallife | 1/29/2014

    " This was a great book. One of the reasons I was drawn to this book was that Ms. Rice is one of my personal role models. I felt like this book would give me some insight into her life, and I was correct. I really liked how Condoleezza Rice captured the personalities of her parents and others around her. If you are looking for a great book about growing up, overcoming adversity, and/or have an interest in foreign policy and politics, this book will fail to disappoint. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ruth | 1/19/2014

    " I am quite impressed with the hard work and ambition of these "ordinary" people. I loved the commitment to family, high ideals and education even in the face of adversity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darlene Dion | 1/18/2014

    " A nice tribute to her parents. Being raised in the South myself, I could understand a lot of what she went through as a child. It's amazing all that she's accomplished. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pam | 11/23/2013

    " I enjoyed it more than I thought I might. I was relieved the book ended before getting into her years in the W administration. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Smoesinger | 10/18/2013

    " I have always admired Condoleezza Rice. I enjoyed reading about her childhood and her amazing parents. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sandi | 6/28/2013

    " The writing certainly didn't carry me away, but it was clear and easy to read. I wanted a little more depth and a little less name dropping. However, it made for some great conversation and, like usual, getting a glimpse into someone else's life was rewarding. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ploni | 6/21/2013

    " Well written and an incredible story even if you don't like her politics it's worth reading this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Suzanne | 6/17/2013

    " I love this book. It is well-written and a fascinating exploration of the African-American experience in Birmingham AL in the 1960s. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shawna | 1/27/2013

    " Actually, I thought it was very good. Interesting and fairly well told. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rob Dhillon | 11/22/2012

    " Great history by and about a great woman. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara Catlin | 8/18/2012

    " Always liked Condi, this just reinforced that. Easy read. Appealing and charming title. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paula | 6/12/2012

    " I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! CR is amazing and I wait for my daughter to be able to read about this extraordinary woman. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rita Kay | 3/3/2012

    " Condoleezza Rice's family was willing to sacrifice anything to see that she received the education she needed to succeed. Their family values were heartwarming, and I identified with her since both of us hold graduate degrees from University of Denver. Enjoyable, down-to-earth reading! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cdenning5 | 1/31/2012

    " Interesting view from a black republican. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 6/7/2011

    " A very interesting read from a fellow Birminghamian and Presbyterian, albeit in very different circumstances. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cdenning5 | 5/22/2011

    " Interesting view from a black republican. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 5/8/2011

    " I really respect Condoleezza Rice, but the book is "just the facts", not very revealing about her feelings. Read it if you have a particular interest, but it's not what you'd call "gripping." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rob | 5/4/2011

    " Great history by and about a great woman. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Summisse | 5/1/2011

    " i have always respected the former Secretary of State -- after I read her memoir I was in awe too! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 4/25/2011

    " Interesting how changing your major in college from Music to International Relations, after taking one course, brings all sorts of good luck to Condoleeza Rice. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gina | 4/19/2011

    " I admire and respect Condoleezza Rice. Enjoyed the story of her upbringing and success. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 4/12/2011

    " Powerful read about a powerful lady! "

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