Andrew Scull praises Samantha Power’s self-congratulatory memoir ‘The Education of an Idealist’ in the TLS.

In the TLS of November 29,2019, that just arrived in the post yesterday in San Diego , California: I found the list of contributors to  ‘The Books of the Year’ a bit thin, as most of the writers I most admire were ignored, or are now dead. Except for Frederick Raphael who never disappoints , his ‘The Benefits of Doubt’ published by Carcanet is an example of his critical mind/sensibility, to follow the ‘Books of the Year’ theme.

What stood out for me was Sociologist Andrew Scull’s praise for R2P zealot and recent Kissinger acolyte Samantha Power’s book ‘The Education of an Idealist’. 


Samantha Power’s The Education of an Idealist (William Collins) is an unusually engaging political memoir. Before joining the Obama campaign and subsequently becoming the youngest ever ambassador to the United Nations, Power was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for her work on genocide. She is a much better writer than the average politician, and her life – her immigration from Ireland, her complicated upbringing, her reporting from Bosnia, and her career in Washington – is a fascinating one. Power is an excellent storyteller, with a deft touch with anecdotes and a nice sense of humour. She is, besides, unusually candid for a politician, and her behind-the-scenes reportage of Obama’s well-intentioned but not always wise foreign policy decisions is compelling, as is the contrast between the seriousness of that administration’s approach to the world and the criminality of the current one.

Books of the Year 2019


Prof. Scull almost follows the Party Line, except for this last telling sentence that veers close to dissent, but carefully engages in political self-correction. I’ve taken the liberty of rendering this sentence in bold script above.

Ms. Power is part of a coterie of women who have emerged in the area of Foreign Policy: Madeline Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Anne Marie Slaughter, Susan Rice, Victoria Nuland, and even star witness in the Impeachment Hearings Fiona Hill: this coterie suffers from the same near hysterical bellicosity equal to that of their male fellow travelers – the alliance between the ‘Liberals’ and the ‘Neo-Conservatives’ has emerged as the Political Center in Foreign Policy, and even in a thoroughly Neo-Liberalized   domestic policy.

Political Observer







About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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