SEASONS OF HER LIFE: A Biograpy of Madeleine Korbel Albright by Ann Blackman

SEASONS OF HER LIFE: A Biograpy of Madeleine Korbel Albright

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A reasonably serious biography, by a reporter in Time magazine's Washington bureau. Blackman, a seasoned journalist, focuses on the personal life of a public figure. Readers seeking analysis of Albright's foreign policy, insights into how her mind works, or an agenda she might pursue through higher elective office will need to look elsewhere. Even political relations are characterized in terms of style rather than substance. Her interactions with the president, for example, are described as ""almost flirtatious,"" while any shared foreign policy goals beyond vague platitudes remain undiscussed. That said, this is a balanced, penetrating look at Albright as a person. Blackman acknowledges Albright's considerable accomplishments without making her into a saint, exposing qualities that have helped her succeed but are not always positive. In Blackman's hands, Albright appears driven and shrewd, talented and caring about others, and above all an expert networker at home in the image-conscious late 20th century. She has ""great confidence"" but also ""abiding insecurities"" requiring ""constant reassurance"" from friends, and is ""more obsessed with her image than almost anyone on the public stage today."" Deeply shaken by her divorce, she turned to friends for comfort so excessively that they eventually told her ""to shut up about Joe, to get on with her life."" This experience also suggests an Albright pattern of behavior: how could she have been married for 23 years and have no inkling that her spouse was about to leave, just as she apparently was ignorant of her Jewish heritage until a reporter uncovered it? The latter incident is thoroughly beaten to death by Blackman, who also devotes a full third of the book to the life of Albright's father. This discussion of her family background is interesting on its own terms, but disproportionate if the goal is to understand the secretary of state. The first Albright biography worth reading, but not destined to be the definitive account of a political career.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Scribner