The Education of an Idealist – Samantha Power

Power, S. (2019). The education of an idealist : a memoir (First edition.). Dey St., an imprint of William Morrow.

President Barack Obama describes Samantha Power as “one of our foremost thinkers on foreign policy.”

Learn more about Samantha Power on her website and through these Still Creek Reflections on her insightful book, The Education of an Idealist.


Start. Just start. Start reading others – anything; everything. Read to fact-check; read critically and actively. Then, start to develop your own views – while simultaneously trying. Don’t wait; try. Read your writing/thoughts aloud – first to family; then to someone you trust who will “eviscerate” (see below). Don’t stop. Find models (like Fred, see below). ACTIVELY ASPIRE.

  • Pages 56-57
    • “Mort (Mort Abramowitz) began asking me to fact-check his opinion pieces for the Washington Post and other publications. I slowly started developing views and tried my hand at writing editorials. At first, all I did was read the drafts to Mum and Eddie over the telephone. When I finally got up the nerve to show one to Mort, he eviscerated what I had written, decrying my :purple prose” and telling me to “tone down” the language. Crestfallen, I reflected on the rejection in my journal. “I think what Mort detests – and I can’t say I blame him – is my voice. I’m too young, too lackign knowledge and experience, to assume such airs.”
      • Mort Abramowitz – American Diplomat; retired U.S. Ambassador to Turkey; retired President of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; retired Founder – International Crisis Group.
    • Even if I didn’t yet have a knack for such writing, Mort was exposing me to a different mind-set. I now shared his impatience with commentary that detailed the contours of a problem without offering realistic, concrete ideas for how the United States and other actors might improve matters.
    • And now I understood why Mort had all the time in the world for Fred (Fred Cuny), someone who was a font of constructive ideas…
      • Fred Cuny – humanitarian; practitioner of disaster relief.