Rice’s behind-the-scenes take on major foreign policy challenges are fascinating ... While she prefers not to dwell on the racism and sexism of Washington, her anger comes through loud and clear. Although Rice is frank about the toll her career took on her family, she is able to look back on her experiences with pride, gratitude, and bracing realism.
Rice is clinical in her retelling of the foreign policy decisions of the Clinton and Obama administrations. And there is no attempt to neatly sew together an overarching narrative about her approach to foreign policy challenges based on her years of experience in government. In fact, that may be the lesson of her tale of 'tough love.' Public policy, Rice argues, is pragmatic, and sometimes a little dark: 'We did fail, we will fail. Our aim must be to minimize the frequency and the price of failure' ... Rice deserves credit for unsparingly owning up to her reputation as a difficult boss.
... candid ... personal and honest ... In a clear, systematic way, like the policy veteran she is, [Rice] takes each Benghazi charge leveled against her and swats it down point by point ... However, Rice is also honest about the Obama administration's foreign policy failures ... she owns up to her decisions — the good and the bad ... In many ways, this memoir is an ode to public service.
... a warm and personal memoir from one of the most outstanding women diplomats of our time ... When you read her candid views on her experiences as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as President Obama’s National Security Advisor, recent history comes alive. Her insights about many of the great events America has had to face in the last two decades – including Benghazi, ISIS, and the role of the Central Intelligence Agency – reveal her character, maturity, stability and leadership qualities ... Rice writes with candor and humility ... t’s a treat to read about the rise of a woman of exceptional executive ability, intelligence and enormous experience with the inner workings of democracy ... Tough Love would suit all sorts of people who may be on your Christmas gift list – the reader, the history lover, the news junkie, the woke family member, the memoir fan, the feminist, or anybody at all who could use a cheering reminder in this difficult and divisive time in American politics that a single individual can make a huge positive impact on our nation.
There’s a reason Rice isn’t more forthright. In her prologue, she announces, 'Tell-all books, which sell copies at the expense of others, are tacky and not my style' ... Unfortunately, [her] good manners come at the reader’s expense ... The problem isn’t that Rice shade[s] the truth to make [herslef] look good. To the contrary, [she] is admirably frank about [her] mistakes. The problem is that by refusing to reveal what happened behind closed doors, [she] fails to help readers understand what lessons to draw from the Libya debacle...By not explaining Libya’s lessons, liberal internationalists like Rice make[s] it easier for nativist bigots like Trump to proffer a lesson of their own: that Washington should care less about people overseas, especially if they are not Christian or white ... Even more striking than what Rice say[s] about Russia is what [she] doesn't say about China.
... you have to endure chapter after chapter of platitudes and long, detailed accounts of [rice's] bureaucratic maneuvering and policy views before you get to the point ... What’s most offensive to this reviewer, however, is her decision to place these narrow self-vindications within a 500-page book full of family anecdotes and hokey adages and tedious renditions of policy views. Ms. Rice’s apologia might have worked well, shorn of banalities, as [a] 5,000- or 6,000-word essay for the New Yorker or the Atlantic. But an essay doesn’t slake the thirst for vainglory.
... extremely revealing ... will likely have an unintended yet timely and educational purpose. Reading about Rice’s daily and weekly routines, one can admire the rigorous schedule she required of herself as National Security advisor to President Obama. Both she personally and the Administration in general spent enormous hours writing, studying and reading copious reports in an attempt to make the most thoughtful decisions possible. In this description she inadvertently or intentionally shows the distinction between Obama Administration’s intense preparation behind the scenes and the seemingly 'shoot from the hip' and extemporaneous style — to put it generously — of the present administration.
[Rice] is tough but frank, clearly owning her successes and failures, sharing stories occasionally punctuated with anecdotes about her personal life and family ... While she offers a fascinating look into U.S. foreign policy, Rice’s desire to be comprehensive can be overwhelming. Recommended for readers interested in national security and Obama-era staff memoirs.
Rice delves into the major policy issues she dealt with during four years as U.N. ambassador, although her account mainly chronicles her own actions and says little about contributions from other members of the administration ... she sheds little new light on a story that was subsequently investigated and heavily covered, and about which she has since often spoken and written ... Similarly, she provides few surprises about her time as national security adviser, including the decisions she opposed, such as Obama’s refusal to take military action after a chemical weapons attack in Syria; her overall respect and affection for him; and her frustration at his often cold-blooded intellectualizing about life-and-death choices ... Interspersed among these dutiful brussels sprouts, however, are gossipy descriptions of important people, along with stories of sisterhood, occasional insecurity, raucous dance parties among bureaucrats and an uncomfortable encounter with pre-presidential Donald Trump.
... a stellar debut memoir ... Rice broke with the Clintons in 2007 to back Obama for president and enthrallingly covers her time in Obama’s administration ... Rice’s insightful memoir serves as an astute, analytical take on recent American political history.
[Rice's] book is frequently engaging though perhaps a quarter too long, and it is peppered with such critical moments as well as defenses of her stances in support of Israel and against an intransigent Russia ... Recommended reading for aspiring diplomats and foreign policy wonks.