Samantha Power’s time in President Obama’s administration, first in the National Security Council and then as her country’s representative at the United Nations in New York, overlapped almost entirely with the years I spent as administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, when I was particularly focused on international events. The topics covered in her memoir were highly familiar to me, but I found its insider’s perspectives both insightful and refreshingly frank. I couldn’t put this book down.
While Power subtitled her book “A Memoir”, in reality it is an autobiography covering the first forty-seven years of her event-filled life. Her description of her childhood in Ireland, growing up with an alcoholic father, is heart-rending. In many ways the heroine of the book is her mother, who had the courage to take Samantha and her brother to the United States to begin a new life. There Samantha excelled in academia and sports, emerging from college with a deep interest in international affairs and a strong desire to make a difference.