Harper Academic

The Education of an Idealist

A Memoir

by Samantha Power

On Sale: 09/10/2019

Price: $29.99

The Education of an Idealist

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The Education of an Idealist

A Memoir

by Samantha Power

On Sale: 09/10/2019


Price: $29.99

About the Book

"What right has this woman to be so educated?" is a question an Irish judge asked of Samatha Power's mother, though the same question could be applied to Samantha's own life.

A Pulitzer Prize winner, a war correspondent, an Irish immigrant, and a former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Power's life has been an education in diplomacy, sorrow, resilience, determination, and humility. The Education of an Idealist is a memoir about these things, but also about idealism as a guiding principle of thought and action: where it comes from, how it gets challenged, and why it must endure.

In his New York Times review, Thomas L. Friedman posits Power's book is perfect for course adoption, saying, "I can imagine a course for incoming diplomats [...] that would use Power's book as a text, and the final exam question would be: 'In 500 words or less, explain whether you identify with the younger Power or the older Power."

Critical Praise

“This is a wonderful book.…The interweaving of Power’s personal story, family story, diplomatic history and moral arguments is executed seamlessly—and with unblinking honesty.”
- THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, The New York Times Book Review

“[Power] is a very good writer, which makes it more fun and truly engrossing to read a memoir about a former U.S. official….A pleasure to read.” - RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC

“Power writes movingly about everything…and she delivers one of the best-written political memoirs of recent years.” - FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN  

“Power writes with heart about her upbringing — in Ireland, Pittsburgh and Atlanta — and she is especially poignant when recounting a few traumatic episodes… Still, the book is suffused with humor, and [President Obama] furnishes the funniest anecdotes that don’t come from her charming children…The Education of an Idealist is a moving account of how to serve righteously, or at least how to try.” - The Washington Post

“Amid the flood of memoirs from Obama administration veterans, Power’s stands out as worth reading. For starters, she’s a better writer than a lot of them—she was a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author long before she got into government. She’s also done more that’s worth reading about. Like the best journalists, Power has a gift for finding the perfect anecdote to illustrate a larger idea or theme, and this is the rare political memoir where you definitely shouldn’t skim the “early years” chapters. - Slate

“Engaging….Power’s memoir is an insider’s account of foreign-policy-making, and an intensely personal one.” - The Economist

“Lively…and strikingly personal…[Power] writes vividly and lucidly here about her turn in the international spotlight.” - Vogue

"Power is a master story-teller . . . a brilliant self-portrait of an outsider turned insider, who is forced to grapple with the challenges that brings, and does so honestly."  - The Independent (Ireland)

"A uniquely personal and absorbing account of [Power's] time at the heart of US foreign policy . . . Power's book gives a riveting fly-on-the wall insight into the Obama administration's foreign-policy decision-making and the inner workings of the United Nations."  - The Irish Times 

“In this gripping and revelatory memoir, Power chronicles, with vibrant precision and stunning candor, her best and worst moments navigating the obstacle courses within the White House and the UN, daunting global crises, and personal struggles. She is utterly compelling in her eye-witness accounts of violence and political standoffs and shrewdly witty in her tales about balancing diplomacy and motherhood.” - Booklist, starred review

“[Power] stresses the necessity of caring, acting, and not giving up when seeking to change people’s lives. Power’s vibrant prose, exuberant storytelling, and deep insights into human nature make for a page-turning memoir.” - Publishers Weekly, starred review

“An illuminating and engaging account of [Power’s] journey from would-be sports journalist to award winning author, from Irish immigrant to presidential cabinet member… This engrossing memoir will appeal to informed readers and will inspire women contemplating careers in public service.” - Library Journal

“Samantha Power’s captivating memoir is a rare and intimate revelation of the inner workings of international diplomacy as well as a heartening beacon of a book for young women and men everywhere. Its stories of dignity, kindness, empathy, and inclusiveness are needed today as never before.” - DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize–winning author

“Problem solving in a complex world can challenge idealism. Samantha Power’s compelling memoir provides critically important insights we should all understand as we face some of the most vexing issues of our time.” - BRYAN STEVENSON, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy

“Samantha Power’s memoir gives a candid, self-questioning, intensely personal view of what goes on inside. It should inspire others to test their ideals against the unforgiving world.” - GEORGE PACKER, author of The Unwinding and Our Man

“A celebrated writer and an accomplished diplomat, Samantha Power is one of the most outspoken and important voices in world affairs today. Her absorbing, heartfelt, and remarkably candid memoir provides vivid new details about the difficult strategic questions that arose during her years in the Obama administration, and offers essential lessons to anyone aspiring to follow in her footsteps in shaping the world for the better.”   - Secretary of State MADELEINE ALBRIGHT

“Samantha Power’s book is honest, personal, revealing. It is about the development of a young woman’s inner strength and self-knowledge. But it is also a political book, alert to both the power of political will and its limitations. It is the journey of an idealist, whose conscience was forged in Bosnia, into the corridors of power where compromise does battle with commitment. It is the story of someone with the soul of an outsider becoming, as an insider, a passionate witness to events in the White House and the United Nations during the Obama years.” - COLM TÓIBÍN, author of Brooklyn and Nora Webster

"Refreshingly frank and self-deprecating, Power's memoir is an energizing reminder that conscience has a place in the process of shaping foreign policy." - TIME

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062820693
  • ISBN 10: 0062820699
  • Imprint: Dey Street Books
  • On Sale: 09/10/2019
  • Trimsize: 6.000 in (w) x 9.000 in (h) x 1.434 in (d)
  • Pages: 592
  • List Price: $29.99
  • BISAC3 : POLITICAL SCIENCE / American Government / General