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The Faith of Condoleezza Rice
Leslie Montgomery

Con dolcezza, "an Italian musical term that instructs the musician to play softly or literally 'with sweetness,'" (p. 16) was the source for a most unusual name for a most remarkable woman, the United States first black National Security Advisor and its first black female Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Leslie Montgomery chronicles Rice's fascinating life and spiritual walk in The Faith of Condoleezza Rice.

Montgomery guides us through the tumultuous years of the Civil Rights struggle in Birmingham, Alabama, where Rice was born and spent her early years. Rice was a friend of one of the teenage girls murdered in a church bombing during her adolescence. The author introduces us to Condoleezza's powerful spiritual heritage inherited on both sides from her grandparents.

The Civil Rights Movement comes alive too, because Condoleezza's family lived in the heart of the Civil Rights country. Her father was mentored by Fred Shuttlesworth, a Christian who believed that God had called him "to lead by example against the sin of prejudice." (p. 52) Shuttlesworth lived through bombings, "beatings with whips and chains," (p. 54), a water canon attack which hospitalized him, and attacks on his family. Montgomery gives an overview of the battle for equality in the early chapters and interweaves other information as it developed during Rice's life.

The author credits much of Rice's success to the virtues instilled in her by her parents, John Wesley Rice, Jr., and Angelena Ray Rice. Though John and Angelena wanted a large family, they wrapped their lives around serving God and raising Condoleezza. However, much of Rice's love for and dedication to democracy comes from the Civil Rights struggle.

The Faith of Condoleezza Rice

The Faith of Condoleezza Rice is more than a biography; it is also a story of Rice's walk with God. From the heritage of faith instilled in her by her family to the questions of family and witnessing to others, Montgomery explores God's working in and through Rice. Montgomery writes in an absorbing style. She utilizes many quotations and stories from friends and family of Secretary of State Rice.

Occasionally she inserts information which seems a little awkward in that place. One mistake made in the pre-publication edition may be corrected by the date of publication. Montgomery writes that Abraham Lincoln had owned slaves. With many sources, both correct and incorrect available, it is easy to make that mistake. The chapter entitled "The Adolescent Years" seems misnamed because it deals more with Rice's childhood than her teenage years. Also it precedes a chapter entitled "The Pre-teen Years." Usually "adolescent" refers to puberty and after.

Despite these few problems, this book is well worth reading, informative and interesting. It describes the life and spiritual walk of an excellent role model for young people, especially young women, and encourages readers to live their faith. The recorded speeches and the interviews with Condoleezza Rice show her to be a deep thinker, not swayed by current fads.

This review was originally published at

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