Book Review: Memo to the President Elect by Madeleine Albright

When I’m not reading for one of my mother-daughter book clubs or reviewing books for this blog and my Web site, I’m reading for a book discussion group that I’m in with my husband, Randy, and three other couples. Our group mostly reads nonfiction, and tomorrow night we’re meeting to talk about Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership by Madeleine Albright.

Because Albright wrote the book before she even knew who the major party nominee’s would be, she’s writing to a speculative winner that could have been Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain or Mitt Romney, among others. Albright frequently references campaign promises, and it’s apparent that any of the candidates could have made the promises she recounts. It’s interesting to see that no matter how far apart their stated views are, the same words can be used to define separate stances.

What I really like about the book is that it focuses on foreign policy. Albright goes throughout the regions of the world and talks about the history of each one as well as the current status. As you might expect, she has a lot of praise for President Clinton’s policies and harsh criticism for President Bush’s, but she both praised and criticized past presidents regardless of which political party they were part of.

Whether you agree with Albright or not, you may find this to be an interesting look at the world and our part in it. It made me think of foreign policy as a long continuum, not just isolated events that occur to get our attention. I expect our discussion tomorrow night will be very interesting.

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