Tina Jordan
September 26, 2003 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Madam Secretary (Book)

Current Status
In Season
Madeline Albright

We gave it a B

Clinton’s tart-tongued secretary of state (”This is not cojones. This is cowardice”) has written one of the most diverting political bios in recent memory. The former Maria Jana Korbel, who was born in Czechoslovakia and emigrated here at age 11, is candid about nearly everything: the difficulties of juggling motherhood with Ph.D studies; the devastation of her failed marriage to newspaper heir Joseph Medill Patterson Albright; her upward slog through Washington political circles. It’s no surprise that the best chapters deal with her years as secretary of state, meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Il (”amazing puffed-up hair”) or watching a frail King Hussein of Jordan admonish diplomats at the Wye River summit. Gabriel Garcia Marquez once told her, ”When you write your memoirs, remember: Do not be angry,” and she sometimes seems to have heeded his advice all too well. But what it lacks in passion, ”Madam Secretary” makes up for in behind-the-scenes detail.

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