Madeleine Albright

Quick, name a beloved female Secretary of State. No, not Hillary—think back to the '90s, when her husband hired Madeleine Albright for the job (the first time a woman held the post). An internationalist with close family ties to Europe, Albright recalls her very eventful youth in Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 (Harper, $30). Her quick-thinking diplomat father got the family to London ahead of Hitler, but in Albright's version of events, he never told until decades later that the family was Jewish. Returning safely to Prague after the war, the Körbel family was again forced into exile—this time for good, in the United States—when the Communists took power. As a result, the multilingual Albright was well suited to study foreign affairs—not foreign to her—and to make diplomacy her career. When the Balkan wars broke out in the '90s, she advised President Bill Clinton to take a hard line against the Serbs. By that time, of course, her old homeland had been split in two—another familial/political irony she can discuss today. BRIAN MILLER

Sat., Feb. 23, 2 p.m., 2013

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