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January 8, 2020


#ReadIreland 2020 Samantha Power

by N@ncy

  • Author:  Samantha Power
  • Title:  The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir
  • Published: 2019
  • Genre:  non-fiction
  • Challenge 2020
  • Monthly plan
  • #ReadingIrelandMonth20
  • #Begorrathon20


Finished: 08.01.2020
Genre: non-fiction
Rating: C


Part I
Ch 1- 6
Pretty basic childhood memories
SP (9 yr) was taken by her mother to America
after the breakdown of a marriage.

Ch 7- 12
I’m beginning to feel more engaged with the book than was initially the case. SP has digested the horrors of the Balkan conflict (war correspondent). She decided to enter law school to prepare her for a career in which she could influence the policymakers who might look away again from the atrocities of genocide.

Ch 13 – 18
SP does feel a profound disconnect between her personal good fortune and the rest of the world. She threads elements of her family story throughout the book.


Part 2:
Ch 19-40
The memoir finally begins to move ahead in a faster and more effective way.
I am very interested learning more about the insider’s account of foreign-policy-making.


Who is Samantha Power?
She is an Irish-American scholar  who won a  Pulitzer Prize for her book A Problem From HelI.
Ms Power has devoted much of her career to promoting the use of American power (Obama administration) to halt mass atrocities.
She served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations 2013-2017.

How did SP get interested in ‘genocide’?

Ms Power was witness to genocide during the Balkan Crisis.
She a war correspondent for Foreign Policy magazine. When she enrolled at Harvard Law School she took courses about Holocaust related subjects. SP wanted to learn when was military force justified? Note: I’m reading this book as Trump decides ‘to take out” General Soleimani of Iran! Justified?


Last thoughts:

  1. Samantha Power (activist-turned-diplomat)
  2. …leads the life as a diplomat involved in juggling the
  3. demands of her job and those of her two young children.
  4. Ms Power left me with the feeling that she told us
  5. just enough about herself to make this book a ‘memoir’.
  6. What  I missed was Ms Power’s thoughts about her road to
  7. confirmation for U.S. Ambassador to the UN that was
  8. strewn with landmines.
  9. She never mentions it!
  10. Her main goal was to inform the reader as objectively as possible
  11. about the good work the Obama administration
  12. …did during her tenure as
  13. political aide and later as US ambassador to the UN.
  14. Samantha Power hopes that we do more
  15. …about our engagement in the world
  16. …and strengthening our democracy.
  17. As memoir….?  It did not touch
  18. my heartstrings…
  19. …very ‘chilly’ look back on her life.
  20. #WorthwhileButNotExceptional


Read more from Ireland, non-fiction
7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reese Warner
    Jan 8 2020

    Interesting. Pity it wasn’t better. Sounds like A Problem From Hell remains the one to read.


    • Jan 9 2020

      Reese, I read one book about Rwanda “Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda” by Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire of the Canadian Forces. After that I swore I’d never read another book about genocide. S. Power’s Pulitzer Prize book ….well, not on my reading list any time soon. I remember Ms Power’s speeches on TV at the UN. She was forceful, stern yet open to negotiation. She made more of an impression on me via TV….not in this book! Thanks for you comment!


  2. Jan 10 2020

    I hadn’t heard of Samantha Power. She sounds interesting. Glad the book took off a little more towards the middle

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mar 2 2020

    Sounds good enough Nancy, but not great? Shame.


    • Mar 2 2020

      I always enjoyed listening to Ms Power at the United Nations representing Obama administration. She was eloquent, forceful and could stare down any diplomat. I’m just disappointed her writing did not express a certain ‘warmth’ and openness one would expect in a memoir. Thanks for your comment!



Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #Challenge 2020: Read non-fiction for a year | NancyElin
  2. Reading Ireland Month: Week 1 round-up and giveaway! #readingirelandmonth20

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