One-Minute Book Reviews

January 11, 2007

Antonia Felix’s Valentine to Condoleeza Rice

Filed under: African American,Biography — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:24 pm

A biography written for adults may have more appeal for teenagers thinking of careers in politics or foreign service

Condi: The Condoleeza Rice Story. By Antonia Felix. Pocket Books, 302 pp., $6.99, paperback.

By Janice Harayda

Next time you hear a mental-health expert warn that American children are overscheduled, consider this: Being overscheduled didn’t seem to hurt Condoleeza Rice. On the way to becoming secretary of state, Rice skipped two grades, enrolled in a conservatory at 10, played the piano with a symphony orchestra at 15, and graduated from college at 19, all without giving up clubs, ballet lessons, or going to church.

Antonia Felix focuses Rice’s childhood, education, and professional successes in Condi, a biography that’s easy to read and well documented but top-heavy with praise – it’s a book-length Valentine. Felix’s narrow scope and lack of balance limit the value of her book for adults. But Condi may have more appeal for teenagers who are thinking about careers in politics or foreign service and are looking for inspiration, not a searching analysis of what went wrong in Iraq. Felix did not interview Rice but spoke to her stepmother, friends, and former academic colleagues. And Rice contributed some of the 29 black-and-white photos. In one picture she wears a figure-skating outfit while enjoying another of her many extra-curricular activities.

Best line: Felix says that Angelena Rice, a teacher, used to iron the tiny lace edges of the anklets worn by her daughter, Condi. This may be the best political ironing story since a White House insider reported that Jacqueline Kennedy had her staff iron her pantyhose.

Worst line: “Condi has aimed for the top in every endeavor she has undertaken, and in most cases, she has succeeded.” Reality check: Rice was national security adviser on Sept. 11, 2001 and, as such, was responsible for some of the intelligence failures that preceded that tragedy. More than 3,000 members of the military have died in Iraq since she became secretary of state.

Recommended if … you have a teenage daughter or granddaughter who wants to be president someday.

Editor: Keith Hollaman

Caveat reader: This review was based on the Pocket Books paperback edition. Some material in other editions may differ. For information about the newer second edition, available in hardcover, visit

Published: 2002 and 2005 (Newmarkt Press first and second hardcover editions), 2003 (Pocket Books paperback).

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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