Madeline Albright is the story of a woman whose life was dominated by feelings of separation and striving for legitimacy and was intent on proving she was just as smart as a man. She was born in Czechoslovakia and grew up in a loving family as one of three siblings. The first 11 years of her life were very unstable by frequent moves necessitated by Hitler’s invasion. She was daughter of a diplomat with whom she had a very close relationship. He became a role model for her career. She was like him intellectually and emotionally—intelligent, gregarious, and witty. His diplomat instinct caused him to surrender his citizenship, his politics, and bury his religious Jewish heritage, which she was surprised to learn as an adult, since she had been raised as a Catholic. She grew up in wartime Europe and came to the US when she was 11. She graduated from Wellesley College and gained a PhD in international affairs from Columbia University. She married into a prominent and wealthy newspaper family that never really accepted her, even after she converted from Roman Catholicism to Episcopalianism to please them. She had three daughters and survived a difficult divorce after 30 years of marriage. The presidential candidates she advised on foreign affairs included Muskie, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, and Obama. She reached the pinnacle of her career as representative to the UN and Secretary of State, the first woman to do so.
The course will be discussion of weekly readings and my presentations. There will be 2-3 hours of reading each week.