{ subscribe_url:'/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/national-book-festival.php' }

Madeleine Albright: A Life of Courage and Commitment

Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State, died today in Washington.

She was 84. The cause was cancer, her family said in a statement.

Albright, who donated her papers to the Library in 2014, was a key figure in the administration of Bill Clinton, serving first as ambassador to the United Nations and then as Secretary of State during his second term. Her no-nonsense foreign policy was informed by her childhood experiences as her family fled from her native Czechoslovakia, first running from the Nazi regime of Germany and then the Communists from Russia. Her family came to the U.S. in 1948.

After her trailblazing career as a public servant, she wrote several bestselling books, including “Madam Secretary: A Memoir,” “Fascism: A Warning,” and “Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st-Century Memoir.” She was at the National Book Festival in 2020. In an interview with David Rubenstein, she mused that she was irritated, if not angered, by women who did not support one another: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other,” she said.

She was never out of touch with world events, writing an op-ed in the New York Times in late February, warning about Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s decision to mass troops on the border of Ukraine. The piece is vintage Albright, mixing her role in world affairs with her unapologetically blunt viewpoint.

“Should he invade,” she wrote, “it will be a historic error.”

She is remembered fondly at the Library, where she toured her collection in the Manuscript Division in 2020, chatting with the staff and posing for photographs.

“Madeleine Albright shined on the world stage as a symbol of peace & diplomacy,” Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, said in a statement. “As the first female Secretary of State she was a trailblazer and role model. Her memory will live on at the where we are honored to be custodians of her papers.”

2021 National Book Festival Highlights: Poetry

This week we highlight our poetry programs from the 2021 Festival, including conversations with Nikki Giovanni (“Make Me Rain”); francine j. harris (“Here Is the Sweet Hand”) and Patrick Rosal (“The Last Thing”); and Claudia Rankine (“Just Us”), Phillip B. Williams (“Mutiny”) and Kevin Young (“African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song”).

2021 National Book Festival Highlights: Fiction

This week we highlight just a few of our many standout fiction programs from the 2021 Festival, including conversations with Alice McDermott (“What About the Baby?”) and George Saunders (“A Swim in a Pond in the Rain”), P. Djèlí Clark (“A Master of Djinn”), and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (“The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois”) and Deesha Philyaw (“The Secret Lives of Church Ladies”).

2021 National Book Festival Highlights: Native Writers

This week we highlight programs from the 2021 Festival that feature Native writers, including conversations with Kelli Jo Ford (“Crooked Hallelujah”) and Toni Jensen (“Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land”), Rep. Sharice Davids (“Sharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman”) and Joy Harjo (“Poet Warrior”).

2021 National Book Festival Highlights: Kekla Magoon

This week we highlight Kekla Magoon discussing her young adult book “Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People” at the 2021 Festival. This post includes prompts for writing and thinking that teens, families and teachers can use to explore the author and the author’s work — recommended for ages 12-17.

2021 National Book Festival Highlights: Current Events, Science, and History & Biography

This week we highlight just a few of our many standout nonfiction programs from this year’s Festival, including Heather McGhee on “The Sum of Us,” Sarah Frier (“No Filter”) and Anna Wiener (“Uncanny Valley”) on their new books, and Matt Parker on “Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World.”