In this stirring memoir, Sirleaf shares the inside story of her rise to power, including her early childhood; her experiences with abuse, imprisonment, and exile; and her fight for democracy and social justice. This compelling tale of survival reveals Sirleaf's determination to succeed in multiple worlds: from her studies in the United States to her work as an international bank executive to her election campaigning in some of Liberia's most desperate and war-torn villages and neighborhoods. It is also the story of an outspoken political and social reformer who, despite danger, fought the oppression of dictators and championed change. By sharing her story, Sirleaf encourages women everywhere to pursue leadership roles at the highest levels of power, and gives us all hope that, with perseverance, we can change the world. In January 2006, after the Republic of Liberia had been racked by fourteen years of brutal civil conflict, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Africa's "Iron Lady" was sworn in as president, an event that marked a tremendous turning point in the history of the West African nation.
Rating:6 out of 10
Source: Checked out a copy from the Natick library and then picked up another copy from the Alexandria public library.
I first picked up This Child Will be Great:Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President written by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the World Party Reading Challenge. In the original format, the country for the month of June was Liberia. I began reading in June, but I did not complete the book until last night. Part of my slow reading progress is the density of the book and the other is that I had other reading commitments. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It is both President Sirleaf's personal story and the history of Liberia. I learned a lot about the history of the country. A few highlights are mentioned below.
I was struck by the positive light in which President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush were portrayed. Because of the work I do and my political standpoint, I am very often critical of the former president. I enjoyed reading an outsider's perspective on how the former president handled foreign relations. It was also interesting to read about Persident Sirleaf's interactions with former president Jimmy Carter. Those sections of the book illustrated how much of a difference there can be in international perception and domestic perception of presidents. I imagine that there is also a difference in how US leaders are perceived from region to region.
Another part of the book I really enjoyed was President Sirleaf's experience running for office. I have some interest in running for public office myself, so I enjoyed hearing her accounts of how she tried to run for office in a way that would allow her to build a coalition with her opponents. The ways in which she utilized knowledge and expertise from the international community was also insightful. The thought of campaigning in the United States is daunting enough for me. I could not imagine trying to campaign in a country where where the weather determines accessibility of many areas.
Finally, I also enjoyed President Sirleaf's reflection on how being a woman impacted her experience. I was especially intrigued by how President Sirleaf believed marriage and parenthood influenced her journey. She got married very young and has been unmarried for the duration of her professional career. One thing I noticed in the memoir is how few stories there were of her interactions with her children. In her inauguration speech, I found myself nodding vigorously at her promise to invest in the education of young woman.
I am counting the book for the following challenges:
- Orbis Terrarum: The author was born in Liberia.
- Global Reading Challenge: A lot of the book takes place in Liberia which is on the continent of Africa.
- What's in a Name Three: It will fulfill the category of title as the word President is in the name of the book.
- Women Unbound: The subtitle of the book describes very well why the book qualifies for the challenge