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The Education of an Idealist
Cover of The Education of an Idealist
The Education of an Idealist
A Memoir
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A NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2019AN NPR BEST BOOK OF 2019 • ONE OF TIME'S MUST-READ BOOKS OF 2019 • AN ECONOMIST BOOK OF THE YEAR • A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK OF 2019 • A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOK OF 2019

"Her highly personal and reflective memoir . . . is a must-read for anyone who cares about our role in a changing world."—President Barack Obama

An intimate, powerful, and galvanizing memoir by Pulitzer Prize winner, human rights advocate, and former UN Ambassador Samantha Power.

In her memoir, Power offers an urgent response to the question "What can one person do?" and a call for a clearer eye, a kinder heart, and a more open and civil hand in our politics and daily lives. The Education of an Idealist traces Power's distinctly American journey from immigrant to war correspondent to presidential Cabinet official. In 2005, her critiques of US foreign policy caught the eye of newly elected senator Barack Obama, who invited her to work with him on Capitol Hill and then on his presidential campaign. After Obama was elected president, Power went from being an activist outsider to a government insider, navigating the halls of power while trying to put her ideals into practice. She served for four years as Obama's human rights adviser, and in 2013, he named her US Ambassador to the United Nations, the youngest American to assume the role.

Power transports us from her childhood in Dublin to the streets of war-torn Bosnia to the White House Situation Room and the world of high-stakes diplomacy. Humorous and deeply honest, The Education of an Idealist lays bare the searing battles and defining moments of her life and shows how she juggled the demands of a 24/7 national security job with the challenge of raising two young children. Along the way, she illuminates the intricacies of politics and geopolitics, reminding us how the United States can lead in the world, and why we each have the opportunity to advance the cause of human dignity. Power's memoir is an unforgettable account of the power of idealism and of one person's fierce determination to make a difference.

"This is a wonderful book. [...] The interweaving of Power's personal story, family story, diplomatic history and moral arguments is executed seamlessly and with unblinking honesty."—THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, The New York Times Book Review

"Honest, personal, revealing... about the development of a young woman's inner strength and self-knowledge."—COLM TÓIBÍN, author of Brooklyn and Nora Webster

"Truly engrossing."—RACHEL MADDOW

A NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2019AN NPR BEST BOOK OF 2019 • ONE OF TIME'S MUST-READ BOOKS OF 2019 • AN ECONOMIST BOOK OF THE YEAR • A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK OF 2019 • A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOK OF 2019

"Her highly personal and reflective memoir . . . is a must-read for anyone who cares about our role in a changing world."—President Barack Obama

An intimate, powerful, and galvanizing memoir by Pulitzer Prize winner, human rights advocate, and former UN Ambassador Samantha Power.

In her memoir, Power offers an urgent response to the question "What can one person do?" and a call for a clearer eye, a kinder heart, and a more open and civil hand in our politics and daily lives. The Education of an Idealist traces Power's distinctly American journey from immigrant to war correspondent to presidential Cabinet official. In 2005, her critiques of US foreign policy caught the eye of newly elected senator Barack Obama, who invited her to work with him on Capitol Hill and then on his presidential campaign. After Obama was elected president, Power went from being an activist outsider to a government insider, navigating the halls of power while trying to put her ideals into practice. She served for four years as Obama's human rights adviser, and in 2013, he named her US Ambassador to the United Nations, the youngest American to assume the role.

Power transports us from her childhood in Dublin to the streets of war-torn Bosnia to the White House Situation Room and the world of high-stakes diplomacy. Humorous and deeply honest, The Education of an Idealist lays bare the searing battles and defining moments of her life and shows how she juggled the demands of a 24/7 national security job with the challenge of raising two young children. Along the way, she illuminates the intricacies of politics and geopolitics, reminding us how the United States can lead in the world, and why we each have the opportunity to advance the cause of human dignity. Power's memoir is an unforgettable account of the power of idealism and of one person's fierce determination to make a difference.

"This is a wonderful book. [...] The interweaving of Power's personal story, family story, diplomatic history and moral arguments is executed seamlessly and with unblinking honesty."—THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, The New York Times Book Review

"Honest, personal, revealing... about the development of a young woman's inner strength and self-knowledge."—COLM TÓIBÍN, author of Brooklyn and Nora Webster

"Truly engrossing."—RACHEL MADDOW

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About the Author-
  • Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the William D. Zabel Professor of Practice in Human Rights at Harvard Law School. From 2013 to 2017, Power served in the Cabinet of President Barack Obama and as US Ambassador to the United Nations. From 2009 to 2013, Power worked on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights. Power's book "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. She is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Sergio: One Man's Fight to Save the World. Power began her career as a journalist reporting from countries including Bosnia, East Timor, Rwanda, and Sudan, and she has been named by TIME as one of the world's 100 Most Influential People and by Forbes as one of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women. She immigrated to the United States from Ireland as a child, and lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Cass Sunstein, and their two children.

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    April 1, 2019

    Irish-born Power has moved from war correspondent to founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School to U.S. Ambassador to the UN, and she's a Pulitzer Prize winner for "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide. So she's got some story to tell. With a 250,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 26, 2019
    In vividly told scenes, with bracing honesty and breathless prose, Pulitzer Prize–winner Power (A Problem from Hell) reflects on the roads that led from her college days at Yale to her work in the U.S. government. She graduated from Harvard Law School, and in 2005 met Sen. Barack Obama, who asked her to serve as a foreign policy adviser. After his presidential election, Obama brought Power into the National Security Council in 2009, and from 2013 to 2017, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Power takes readers behind the scenes of her visits to Libya during the final tense days of the Qaddafi regime, pointing out that in spite of the downturn in security, Libya’s citizens agreed that they wanted no international presence in their country, but to determine their own future. She discovered that Burma’s human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi is a bad listener and that it’s not clear that Suu Kyi cared that much about humans. Ultimately, she stresses the necessity of caring, acting, and not giving up when seeking to change people’s lives. Power’s vibrant prose, exuberant storytelling, and deep insights into human nature make for a page-turning memoir.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from September 1, 2019
    As a young Irish immigrant to the U.S., painfully separated from her beloved, alcoholic father, Power learned the lessons of otherness and found refuge and camaraderie in sports, a passion that has helped her break down many barriers. The Tiananmen Square protests precipitated her political awakening; Washington, DC, internships stoked her fascination with foreign policy, and her intrepidness, writing skills, empathic curiosity, and commitment to justice propelled her to become a war correspondent in Bosnia at 23. Hoping to effect change, Power earned a law degree and wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning history of genocide, A Problem from Hell (2002), which led to the first of many delving conversations with U.S. senator, then president Barack Obama, who appointed her to be a human rights advisor on the National Security Council, then U.S. Ambassador to the UN. In this gripping and revelatory memoir, Power chronicles, with vibrant precision and stunning candor, her best and worst moments navigating the obstacle courses within the White House and the UN, daunting global crises, and personal struggles. She is utterly compelling in her eye-witness accounts of violence and political standoffs and shrewdly witty in her tales about balancing diplomacy and motherhood. Ultimately, Power affirms the possibility for positive change and asserts that America's power resides in its respect for human rights.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

  • THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, The New York Times Book Review “This is a wonderful book....The interweaving of Power's personal story, family story, diplomatic history and moral arguments is executed seamlessly—and with unblinking honesty.”
  • RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC “[Power] is a very good writer, which makes it more fun and truly engrossing to read a memoir about a former U.S. official....A pleasure to read.”
  • FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN   “Power writes movingly about everything...and she delivers one of the best-written political memoirs of recent years.”
  • The Washington Post "Amid the flood of memoirs from Obama administration veterans, Power's stands out as worth reading. For starters, she's a better writer than a lot of them—she was a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author long before she got into government. She's also done more that's worth reading about. Like the best journalists, Power has a gift for finding the perfect anecdote to illustrate a larger idea or theme, and this is the rare political memoir where you definitely shouldn't skim the "early years" chapters.
  • The Economist "Engaging....Power's memoir is an insider's account of foreign-policy-making, and an intensely personal one."
  • The Independent (Ireland) "Power is a master story-teller . . . a brilliant self-portrait of an outsider turned insider, who is forced to grapple with the challenges that brings, and does so honestly."
  • The Irish Times  "A uniquely personal and absorbing account of [Power's] time at the heart of US foreign policy . . . Power's book gives a riveting fly-on-the wall insight into the Obama administration's foreign-policy decision-making and the inner workings of the United Nations."
  • Booklist, starred review "In this gripping and revelatory memoir, Power chronicles, with vibrant precision and stunning candor, her best and worst moments navigating the obstacle courses within the White House and the UN, daunting global crises, and personal struggles. She is utterly compelling in her eye-witness accounts of violence and political standoffs and shrewdly witty in her tales about balancing diplomacy and motherhood."
  • Publishers Weekly, starred review "[Power] stresses the necessity of caring, acting, and not giving up when seeking to change people's lives. Power's vibrant prose, exuberant storytelling, and deep insights into human nature make for a page-turning memoir."
  • Library Journal "An illuminating and engaging account of [Power's] journey from would-be sports journalist to award winning author, from Irish immigrant to presidential cabinet member... This engrossing memoir will appeal to informed readers and will inspire women contemplating careers in public service."
  • DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize–winning author "Problem solving in a complex world can challenge idealism. Samantha Power's compelling memoir provides critically important insights we should all understand as we face some of the most vexing issues of our time."
  • BRYAN STEVENSON, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy "Samantha Power's captivating memoir is a rare and intimate revelation of the inner workings of international diplomacy as well as a heartening beacon of a book for young women and men everywhere. Its stories of dignity, kindness, empathy, and inclusiveness are needed today as never before."
  • GEORGE PACKER, author of The Unwinding and Our Man "Samantha Power's memoir gives a candid, self-questioning, intensely personal view of what goes on inside. It should inspire others to test their ideals against the unforgiving world."
  • Secretary of State MADELEINE ALBRIGHT "A celebrated writer and an accomplished diplomat, Samantha Power is one of the most outspoken and important voices in world affairs today. Her absorbing, heartfelt, and...
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A Memoir
Samantha Power
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