Seasons of Her Life

Madeleine Albright’s life, though often a privileged one, has not always been an easy one. Her father, a Czech diplomat, was forced to flee both the Nazis and the Communists and the family became refugees. Once in the United States, the young girl pursued the American dream with a vengeance. Upon graduation from college, she married a socially prominent newspaper heir and, unlike most women of wealth in the 1950’s, pursued a career. After earning her Ph.D., she eventually became a member of the National Security Council, an aide to a powerful senator, and a college professor.

Although her marriage ended in a bitter divorce, her upward momentum continued. When Bill Clinton brought his party back to power she was tapped to be Ambassador to the United Nations. And then Madeleine Albright, who had contended with the old boy network most of her life, became the first woman Secretary of State. Almost immediately, there was a controversy over the revelation that she was of Jewish origin, although raised a Catholic (and later a convert to Protestantism). Her claim that she knew nothing about her heritage was greeted with some skepticism.

The world has not been a peaceful place since Albright’s accession and this rather brief biography (with which she did not fully cooperate) is not intended to analyze her imprint on American foreign policy. Though it is well researched, with some interesting psychological insights, it is certainly not definitive. Such an analysis must undoubtedly wait until the Secretary’s tenure ends.