By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
No Higher Honour: A Memoir of My Years in Washington
By Condoleezza Rice (Simon & Schuster, $40.00, hardcover, 766 pages)
Former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a woman of strength, character, charm and beauty who has reached the highest levels of power in the United States Government.
With unexpected candour she reflects in her memoir on her eight-year tenure and describes moments of self-doubt and regrets that are a revelation.
The key details include her clash over policy with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld; she regrets the timing of a vacation just as Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on New Orleans; then, there’s the Libyan strongman Moammar Kadafi who had an unnerving fixation on his “African princess”, which revealed itself in a bizarre private dinner in his kitchen.
Condaleezza Rice overcame the racism of the Civil Rights era to become a brilliant academic and expert on foreign affairs.
Walking in her shoes is exhaustive. Regarded, arguably, as President George W. Bush’s most influential foreign policy advisor, she stepped into this role in August 1998.
It was a busy time, given, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, combating North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions, incarceration of suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay.
In the opening pages she writes, "Today's headlines and history's judgments are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the good hard work of securing the latter."
Regardless, the details come tumbling forth—in chronological order—of innumerable instances involving diplomatic confrontations and fluctuating changes in relations with world leaders including Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Running through nearly all of it is the legacy of the 9/11 terror attacks, coherent fears of another attack and a sense of guilt for missing clues before the planes were hijacked.
No Higher Honor is a treasure trove of reminiscences, delivered with warmth, humility and her deep reverence for the ideals on which America was founded.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.