In This Review

No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington
No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington
By Condoleezza Rice
Crown, 2011, 784 pp

The shadow of Dean Acheson looms large in Rice’s memoir of eight years of service in the George W. Bush administration, first as national security adviser and then as secretary of state. In both form and substance, Acheson’s memoir of the Truman administration, Present at the Creation, serves as a model for Rice’s. Both Acheson and Rice served as secretary of state in administrations that were criticized for going to war as a result of policy errors (in Korea for Truman and in Iraq for Bush), and both turned the White House over to the opposing party after failures and difficulties abroad and at home. Acheson’s skillful memoir helped revise the historical verdict; today, the errors and misjudgments of the Truman years are largely forgotten, and such achievements as the Marshall Plan and the establishment of NATO dominate the historical memory. The Bush administration is unlikely to achieve so full a rehabilitation. Nevertheless, Rice’s rigorous and fair-minded accounting will likely help soften the historical verdict. Rice was one of the few principals of the Bush administration whose reputation stood higher in 2008 than in 2000; the crisp professionalism, love of country, and ability to see clearly and speak candidly on display in this memoir help explain why.