Advancing a Free Society

Condoleezza Rice: Birmingham to Washington

Monday, October 25, 2010

By Patt Morrison

Her mother crafted the name from the musical terms con dolce and con dolcezza, meaning "with sweetness" in Italian. Condoleezza Rice's life's work, though, has been about the hard stuff: Soviet specialist, Stanford University provost, Chevron board member, national security advisor and then secretary of State under President George W. Bush. Hers was one of the most public and controversial faces in that administration, for her justifications of the Iraq War and for the conduct of the war against terrorism.

All that came long after growing up an only child in the black middle class of Birmingham, Ala., the hard heart of the segregated South. Rice can remember the "thud" she heard one Sunday morning when, miles away, segregationists blew up a black Baptist church, killing four little girls about her own age. Her memoir, "Extraordinary, Ordinary People," takes us from that world to the brink of her White House years.

You ended this book just where readers wanted you to start it — in 2000. Are you teasing us for the sequel?

No no no, it was a natural stopping point because my father died just before I left for Washington. This is my story wrapped in my parents' story. I want to answer the question everybody asks: How did you get to be who you are? You have to know John and Angelena Rice to answer that question, so that's why I did this book first. The next book is about eight years of foreign policy — not just about the past but how the past is prologue.

Continue reading this interview of Condoleezza Rice in the Los Angeles Times