A short, fat, Czech old matron – that’s what she said about herself. At the same time let’s imagine that Bill Clinton ordered a bombardment againstSerbia, acting on her advice, she named the Chinese president a wooden dog, and how she frightened to death her two-year-old grandson with the real Yasser Arafat. World politics, authenticity and irony – Madeleine Albright’s book is the best memoir that I’ve ever read.
“I didn’t want to finish.” The first sentence is already indicative of how much different is Albright’s autobiography from Bill or Hillary Clinton’s, or maybe Obama’s too. First of all, she is honest, and the reader doesn’t feel the avoidance of hard things or hard words. The second that she is outright, she finished her political career, so she has nothing to lose and nothing to be shamed of in her life. On the contrary: she is very proud of all what she achieved, a wonderful family, a great career, and the reader feels throughout the book how magnificent it is to represent the United States in the whole world.
The main object of the book is the history of the nineties, formed by the author too. But these history courses aren’t boring, everything is absolutely clear, for example the causes of the bombardments of Serbia are more understandable from this book than from the then appeared newspapers (presumably because Albright was more aware of the topic than the majority of the journalists). From another point of view, the objects of the book aren’t too far from us, neither in time nor in distance, the politicians are all familiar to us from the 90’s television news – the book was very nostalgic to me.
Albright is making the reader feel the power and private life of the politicians in a very good way at the same time. There were discussions between Israel and Palestine, lead by Americans, about the refugees, about Jerusalem etc., the reader feels the weight of the world conflicts – and at the same time Albright really took Arafat home to her farm, where her two-year-old grandson was so frightened of his sight, that he screamed …
Opposed to Hillary Clinton, Albright doesn’t need to insist on that she remained a normal person, because it is clear from the beginning of the book. It was a great opportunity to her to be secretary of state, she wanted to work hard in a correct way for the United States. But she enjoyed her private airplane, met wonderful people, and made exercises to lose weight, and wore a hat if her hair was untidy…
After six thousand pages I noticed that the editor became tired, there is much more mistake at the end of the book than at the beginning. By reaching the end, the reader is tired too, it is a hard topic, so many world politics, but who isn’t tired at all, is the author, neither the writing, nor her work makes her exhausted, she is fresh, interesting and ironical during the whole book – it was a great work!
Madeleine Albright: Madam Secretary
Geopen Kiadó, Hungary, 2003