Gramercy Book Club’s April selection, The Education of an Idealist, is an intimate, powerful, and galvanizing memoir by Pulitzer Prize winner, human rights advocate, and former UN Ambassador Samantha Power. Former President Barack Obama called it “a must-read for anyone who cares about our role in a changing world.” The discussion will be facilitated by Suzanne Marilley, an associate professor of political science at Capital University.
In her memoir, Power offers an urgent response to the question "What can one person do?" and a call for a clearer eye, a kinder heart, and a more open and civil hand in our politics and daily lives. The Education of an Idealist traces Power’s distinctly American journey from immigrant to war correspondent to presidential Cabinet official. In 2005, her critiques of US foreign policy caught the eye of newly elected senator Barack Obama, who invited her to work with him on Capitol Hill and then on his presidential campaign. After Obama was elected president, Power went from being an activist outsider to a government insider, navigating the halls of power while trying to put her ideals into practice. She served for four years as Obama’s human rights adviser, and in 2013, he named her US Ambassador to the United Nations, the youngest American to assume the role.
Power transports us from her childhood in Dublin to the streets of war-torn Bosnia to the White House Situation Room and the world of high-stakes diplomacy. Humorous and deeply honest, The Education of an Idealist lays bare the searing battles and defining moments of her life and shows how she juggled the demands of a 24/7 national security job with the challenge of raising two young children. Along the way, she illuminates the intricacies of politics and geopolitics, reminding us how the United States can lead in the world, and why we each have the opportunity to advance the cause of human dignity. Power’s memoir is an unforgettable account of the power of idealism and of one person’s fierce determination to make a difference.
Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the William D. Zabel Professor of Practice in Human Rights at Harvard Law School. From 2013 to 2017, Power served in the Cabinet of President Barack Obama and as US Ambassador to the United Nations. From 2009 to 2013, Power worked on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights. Power’s book “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. She is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Sergio: One Man’s Fight to Save the World. Power began her career as a journalist reporting from countries including Bosnia, East Timor, Rwanda, and Sudan, and she has been named by TIME as one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People and by Forbes as one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She immigrated to the United States from Ireland as a child, and lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Cass Sunstein, and their two children.
At Capital University, Suzanne Marilley teaches courses such as gender politics, the American Presidency, and parties and elections. She is the author of Woman Suffrage and the Origins of Liberal Feminism,1820-1920.