The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2021
88 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Life After Foggy Bottom Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st-Century Memoir Madeleine Albright, Harper, 2020, $29.99/hardcover, e-book available, 384 pages. Review by Joseph L. Novak In her vibrant new memoir, Hell and Other Destinations , Madeleine Albright offers an inside account of how she has reconstructed her life and career after serving as the 64th Secretary of State (1997-2001). Albright begins the book in an intro- spective manner. She relates that she loved serving as Secretary and was sorry to depart the State Department on Jan. 20, 2001, when she turned the position over to Colin Powell. With no plans to retire, she had to prepare herself for the challenge of finding a new role post–Foggy Bottom. The straightforward question she put to herself at the time was, What is there for a former Secretary of State to do? To America’s benefit, she quickly found a new role as a distinguished stateswoman. As detailed in the book, she has kept busy with a constellation of worthy projects. She gives speeches worldwide. She is a professor at George- town University and the chair of the National Democratic Institute. She runs her own consulting firm, the Albright Stonebridge Group. She has even found time to write no fewer than seven books. These include the tome-like Madam Secretary: A Memoir (2003) and the visual treat Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box (2009). She is also an active member of the Aspen Ministers Forum, a group of former foreign ministers that peri- odically issues policy statements. Albright adds that the group is informally and fondly known as “Madeleine and Her Exes.” While reviewing her impressive work schedule, Albright also uses the book to explore some serious issues. She is on target in worrying about the recrudescence of right-wing populism, a subject she wrote about in depth in her book Fascism: A Warning (2018). In a chapter evocatively titled “Unhinged,” she laments deepening divisions in Western societies over glo- balization and immigration, comment- ing: “The lessons learned during World War II about the benefits of multilateral cooperation and the dangers of unbri- dled jingoism are no longer fresh.” Further, she expresses concern about President Vladimir Putin and “the renewed growling of the Russian bear.” Albright is a convinced Atlanticist who advocates strong support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, stating: “If NATO is taken for granted, or if its members drift further apart, the alliance will surely go in precisely the direction that Putin hopes.” Albright also discusses the “Respon- sibility to Protect” (R2P) concept. She underscores that the international community must take coordinated action and should even envisage intervening militarily on the basis of R2P to stop grave human rights violations. She is certainly correct to highlight R2P, which is an important addition to the international human rights law lexicon. She could have spent more time, however, delving into whether the American people will ever come to accept R2P as a core rationale for possible future U.S. military action. It does not bode well that the public’s support for military action abroad has eroded due to long-running conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the cascading chaos in Libya in the aftermath of the U.S.-led intervention there. A gifted raconteur, Albright makes sure to introduce anecdotes so the text does not get bogged down. She recounts how, without a Diplomatic Security Ser- vice detail post-2001, she suddenly had to acclimate to shopping and walking down the street solo. She describes a lighthearted Twitter brawl with comedian Conan O’Brien and admits to having a crush on actor and director Robert Redford. She guest stars in television shows, including BOOKS To America’s benefit, Albright quickly found a new role as a distinguished stateswoman. As detailed in the book, she has kept busy with a constellation of worthy projects.