The Mighty and the Almighty, by Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright has quite a resume.  A former Secretary of State and once the US Ambassador to the United Nations, this diplomat has a depth of understanding about the world that few of us can attain.  I don’t always agree with her assessments of the world, but I always find her insights reasoned and insightful.

A few years ago she wrote The Mighty and the Almighty. It’s a fascinating book that explores how faith influences world politics. That isn’t particularly news to anybody, of course. But Albright brings out nuances and insights that show how culture is strongly influenced by religion. And how those cultural differences drives international relations around the world.

The book was written in the era of George Bush, so it has several references to that time. She dismisses the idea that global conflicts are a matter of “good versus evil” and points us instead to a better understanding of how religious perspectives shape geopolitics. While sharing her own Catholic background and how it has influenced her views, she also challenges foreign diplomats and other workers to think carefully about the unique religious/cultural situation that they find themselves in.

Despite the author’s allegiance to the Democratic party, the book is not filled with criticism of the Bush administration. There is plenty of that, both directly and subtly, but Albright spreads some blame around. After reading this book I can’t imagine how she must feel about our State Department pushing for Gay rights in places like Pakistan; it almost certainly makes her roll her eyes.

A good book, well written, well researched. If the topic interests you, you’ll enjoy it.