Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family, by Condoleezza Rice (Crown Archetype, 352 pp., $27)
If you are looking for a comprehensive autobiography of former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, or even a comprehensive autobiography of her younger years, this is not the book for you. True to its subtitle, it is a memoir of family, specifically a memoir about her parents, Angelena and John Wesley Rice Jr., who died in 1985 and 2000 respectively. The book ends on Christmas Eve in 2000, with the passing, after long-term heart disease, of Rice’s father, exactly one week after the newly elected President Bush asked Rice to serve as his national security adviser.
Of the “juicy stuff” regarding Bush’s and Rice’s tenures in high office, you will find not a word. Even the role that she played as foreign-policy adviser in Bush’s first presidential campaign receives only two pages’ worth of attention, at the very end of the book. She does not even mention her electrifying speech at the 2000 GOP convention, in which she declared that America’s military was not supposed to be a U.N.-style “global police force” but would fight “to win.” Rice the author is both personally modest and frustratingly discreet.