When Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the 2005 Liberian presidential election, she demolished a barrier few thought possible, obliterating centuries of patriarchal rule to become the first female elected head of state in Africa's history. Read more...
When Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the 2005 Liberian presidential election, she demolished a barrier few thought possible, obliterating centuries of patriarchal rule to become the first female elected head of state in Africa's history. Madame President is the inspiring, often heartbreaking story of Sirleaf's evolution from an ordinary Liberian mother of four boys to international banking executive, from a victim of domestic violence to a political icon, from a post-war president to a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Helene Cooper deftly weaves Sirleaf's personal story into the larger narrative of the coming of age of Liberian women. The highs and lows of Sirleaf's life are filled with indelible images; from imprisonment in a jail cell for standing up to Liberia's military government to addressing the United States Congress, from reeling under the onslaught of the Ebola pandemic to signing a deal with Hillary Clinton when she was still Secretary of State that enshrined American support for Liberia's future.
Sirleaf's personality shines throughout this riveting biography. Ultimately, Madame President is the story of Liberia's greatest daughter, and the universal lessons we can all learn from this -Oracle- of African women.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-01-09
- Reviewer: Staff
Cooper, a Pulitzer Prizewinning New York Times journalist, shares a riveting tale of civil war, political corruption, and personal ambition. Like her memoir, The House at Sugar Beach, this biography delves into Liberias modern-day travails. Its heroes are womennot only Sirleaf, the first democratically elected female president of Liberia (and its current president), who earned a Nobel Peace Prize and handled the 2014 Ebola crisis, but the ordinary market women who threw their influence behind her. In 1938, Sirleaf was born into a Liberia divided by ethnic rivalries. Though Sirleaf hailed from a family of indigenous Liberians, she physically resembled the elite Congo people, descendants of American migrants. This provided her the gift of camouflage and eased her movement among different groups. Hardworking and well educated, Sirleaf carved out a career in finance, her entrée into government and politics. Sirleaf narrowly survived Samuel Does 1980 military coup, and she lived in exile for most of Charles Taylors corrupt and bloody rule. She unsuccessfully challenged him for the presidency in 1997, but backed by a cross-section of women, she won in 2005. Cooper writes from the perspective of an affectionate native daughter, and though clear-eyed about Liberias problems, she offers little criticism of Sirleaf, leaving that delicate issue to future historians. Agent: Dorian Karchmar, WME. (Mar.)