Upon her departure from her position as the first female Secretary of State of the United States in 2001, Madeleine Albright was interviewed and asked about her legacy. She responded, “I don’t want to be remembered.” As of right now, I plan to stick around and get a lot more done. I want each new phase of my life to be more thrilling than the last, no matter how challenging that may be.
Hell And Other Destinations
She could write, teach, travel, give lectures, create a business, fight for democracy, help empower women, advocate for preferred political candidates, and spend more time with her grandchildren—these were all options that the former Secretary pondered during that period of transition. She did everything instead of picking and choosing.
For nearly two decades, Albright was a nomad, juggling half a dozen careers, butting heads with presidents and prime ministers, and expanding her knowledge base with each new experience. She left her position at the State Department to pave her own way, speaking for the millions of people who, regardless of their gender, race, or age, just want to be treated with dignity.
The astonishing persona that emerges in Hell and Other Destinations is one that is unabashed, hilarious, personal, and deadly. This is a story for our day, with timeless truths at its core, told by a remarkable lady with boundless enthusiasm for living.
Madeleine Albright, one of the world’s most admired and devoted public workers, reflects on the difficulty of maintaining a successful career well past the typical retirement age in her illuminating, humorous, and inspiring book.
The Subject of “What is There For a Former Secretary of State to do?”
is addressed by Madeleine Albright in her most recent memoir, Hell and Other Destinations.
Don’t be fooled by the title. There is no exotic, war-torn, disease-ridden country representing Hell in this story. (Although they do show up.) It’s not the stress of starting a business or the letdown of going from being a major player on the international stage—complete with a private jet and a security detail—to being singled out for a bag check at airport security. It has nothing to do with the chaotic parts of existence.
Saying “hell yes” to the future is the theme here. To this day, Albright continues to do just that in her self-proclaimed afterlife. “I was set on making the next chapter of my life even more exciting than the last,” she writes. Albright may no longer be in the lead role of Secretary of State, but she is still very much present.
The lecture circuit was slightly less satisfying, as was “the endurance test known as a book tour,” but postgame diplomatic analysis turns out to be her thing, always from the perspective of one who understands that diplomacy is the art of convincing “each side to settle for part of what it wants rather than prolong a squabble by demanding all.” Is he, in fact, a fascist? Albright concludes that, “he has the greatest antidemocratic inclinations of any president in modern American history,” even if that doesn’t fit the dictionary’s definition.