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The Mighty and the Almighty, by Madeleine Albright

By an everyday book reader
March 1, 2007

This fine book by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright is a thoughtful and finely reasoned reflection on the role of religion in world politics.

Writing in a plainspoken style that belies her erudition, Albright ranges over history and current events to show how America has underestimated or ignored the importance of faith in the cultures of other countries. She presents an eloquent plea for seeking out common ground, arguing that in today's world politics and religion must be partnered effectively in order to achieve justice, peace, and understanding. Infused with lively anecdotes and perceptive observations, this is one foreign policy primer we think merits particular attention.

The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs
by Madeleine Albright, Bill WoodwardBook Picture

Softcover: 350 pages
ISBN: 9780060892586, 0060892587
HarperCollins
March 2007

Does America, as George W. Bush has proclaimed, have a special mission, derived from God, to bring liberty and democracy to the world? How much influence does the Christian right have over U.S. foreign policy? And how should America deal with violent Islamist extremists?

Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state and bestselling author of Madam Secretary, offers a thoughtful and often surprising look at the role of religion in shaping America's approach to the world. In this illuminating account, she argues that, to be effective, U.S. policy makers must understand the power and place of religion in motivating others and in coloring how American actions are perceived.

Defying the conventional wisdom, Albright suggests not only that religion and politics are inseparable, but that their partnership, when properly harnessed, can be a force for justice and peace.

"In a remarkably accessible, even breezy style, she looks at these issues in light of recent history both abroad and at home, from the religious fundamentalism that led to the ouster of the shah of Iran to the invasion of Iraq and American hope that a political culture can emerge there that integrates democracy and Islam. But Albright also looks critically at President Bush, an evangelical Christian who invokes God in the name of fighting 'evil.' In this ambitious, thoughtful, and wide-ranging treatment, Albright deftly balances the pragmatic need to confront religious-based unrest and the idealistic need to temper one's own personal beliefs in the public realm. While fully acknowledging the threat al-Qaeda poses, Albright rejects the notion that a 'clash of civilizations' is in progress and wisely calls for care and nuance in how America approaches international confrontations that are tinged with religion. - Publishers Weekly

"A valuable primer on foreign-policy challenges that are sure to bedevil the United States for a long time to come." - Kirkus Reviews

"Albright brings considerable experience as a former diplomat, history professor, and child of Czech immigrants to an absorbing look at the intersection of world politics and world religion. With a sweeping view of U.S. historical involvement in the fight against communism and for human rights, as well as some of our more morally dubious pursuits, Albright critiques U.S. foreign policy and our notions of manifest destiny. From personal experiences, Albright notes the importance of religion in shaping world events, including the influence of Pope John Paul II on Poland and the world. As an admitted hybrid between realist and idealist, Albright suggests that politics and the values of faith can - and should - be joined in the interest of peace." - Library Journal

Madeleine Albright served as U.S. secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, the first woman ever to hold the position. Her distinguished career in government includes positions in the National Security Council, on Capitol Hill, and as a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

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