READ MY PINS
Stories From A Diplomat’s Jewel Box
by Madeline Albright
review by Linda Guilbert
This book is a very entertaining afternoon with a worldly
lady and her jewelry box. The items displayed and the stories told have appeal
to jewelry collectors, political junkies & gossip mongers, as well.
The pins she wore and the rationale for those choices
that expressed her mood or perception of an event produced intriguing
Vladmir Putin noted to President Clinton that he often
checked what brooch she was wearing in order to determine her mood or message.
After she once boldly criticized Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi press dubbed her an
“unparalleled serpent”. Soon after this comment was published she was to
meet with Iraqi officials, and, so, she chose to wear a serpent pin. And, for a
meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jon-Il, she decided to wear the boldest
American flag...and high heels to appear taller...he also wore high heels!
Her family history and accompanying jewelry also
produces a glimpse of the woman apart from the professional. Among the beautiful
200 color photographs shown are an antique jade pin, engagement gift from her fiancée's
grandmother, a wedding gift from her parents, a garnet set, and most treasured
clay heart pin from her youngest daughter. And, toward the end of the last
chapter she recounts that in the fall of 2006, while in New Orleans after
hurricane Katrina she was presented with a gift from a young man. He explains
that the pin he was giving her had been given to his mother from his father, and
that story left her speechless, and though “I am not quick to tear up” this
gift “pushed me to the brink”.
Whether she is recounting tales of jewels and kingdom
making going back millennia, America’s early Indian jewelry, the Freedom pin
awarded to suffragettes who were imprisoned, or her choices to reflect our
foreign relations, each story leads comfortably and compellingly to the next and
each photograph showcases that narrative.