I knew vaguely of Liberia before reading This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President--I had a distant memory of reading that it was established as a home for resettled slaves, and then I remembered reading of its violent civil war and its government's horrible support for the devastating war in Sierra Leone. Other than that, as with most of the African continent, I was woefully ignorant. I definitely would have had trouble identifying it on a map or naming its current leader. Well, now I am much better informed, courtesy of the Nobel Peace Prize winning president herself.
I have read reviews of the book that critique it for heavy use of acronyms and clunky writing. I frankly wasn't bothered by either factor. I don't expect non-fiction in general to read like literature, so I am not disappointed when it fails to do so. On the rare occasions when it does, I am just pleasantly surprised. There were acronyms for political parties and international organizations when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf discussed them, but I didn't find them to be a distraction. I had no trouble staying fully engaged in the tale of Sirleaf's life and of Liberia's history, which are both fascinating. I came away with a sense of just how much one courageous person can accomplish, if she or he is bright and able to access education. Sirleaf is a truly remarkable character, not perfect, but willing to own up to her flaws. I will follow the history of this nation moving forward in a way that I had never been interested in doing to this point. I hope that Sirleaf's dreams and plans of moving her country forward through education, sound planning and management, and a commitment to democratic and ethical governance will come to fruition and move her country into a position of greater significance and leadership in Africa and the world as a whole. The world could use more women like her in positions of power and influence!