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"Former secretary of state Rice only briefly treats her tenure during the second Bush administration in favor of a straightforward, reverential chronicle of her upbringing under two teachers in the segregated Deep South. Rice acknowledges upfront the complicated, intertwined history of blacks and whites in America, which lent a lightening of skin to her forebears that was looked upon favorably at the time. Her father, John Wesley Rice Jr., came from a family of well-educated itinerant preachers in Louisiana, while the family of her mother, Angelena Ray, were Birmingham, Ala., landowners; both were teachers at Fairfield Industrial High School and determined to live 'full and productive lives' in Birmingham, despite the blight of segregation (e.g., poll tests in the largely Democratic South resolved John Rice to become a lifelong Republican). Cocooned in an educational and musical environment, Rice was a high-achieving only child. Yet the encroaching racial tension broke open in Birmingham in the form of store boycotts, bombings, and demonstrations. Eventually, the family moved to Denver, where Rice attended the university, majoring first in piano then political science, due to the influence of professor and former Czech diplomat Josef Korbel. Rice moves fleetingly through her subsequent education at Notre Dame and Stanford. Swept into Washington Republican politics by Colin Powell and others, she sketches the 'wild ride' accompanying the Soviet Union's demise, but overall records 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