The first woman president of Ireland and a lifelong activist in human rights, Robinson fashions a stately, forthright autobiography with an emphasis on her constitutional law work and teaching. Born in 1944 to two doctors with a thriving practice in Ballina, in north County Mayo, Ireland, the only daughter in a lineup of five children, Robinson nee Mary Bourke was inculcated early on by her deeply Catholic mother with the notion that the Bourkes had aristocratic roots and were somehow more "special" than the humbler families in town, an assumption of status the author deeply rejected. Brainy, athletic, determined to do something worthwhile with her life, Robinson excelled at school, ending up studying law at Trinity College, Dublin, then at Harvard, a rare woman in her classes and determined to use the law for social change in what she saw as an unenlightened Ireland. From barrister to professor to senator (winning her first seat at age 25) she championed issues for women and families such as contraceptive use and divorce, and pushed for Ireland's inclusion into the European Union. Married to the political cartoonist (and Protestant) Nick Robinson and tapped for the presidency in 1990, Robinson changed the role of president from figurehead to booster and activist who traveled widely over her seven-year term; subsequently she served as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and as one of Nelson Mandela's Elders. She details her work at hot spots across the globe, and writes engagingly and warmly of her current foundation addressing issues of climate change and world poverty. (Mar.)
As an activist lawyer, she won landmark cases advancing the causes of women and marginalized people against the prejudices of the day, and in her twenty years in the Irish Senate she promoted progressive legislation, including the legalizing of contraception. In l990, she shocked the political system by becoming Ireland's first woman president, redefining the role and putting Ireland firmly on the international stage. In her role as UN High Commissioner for human rights, beginning in 1997, she won acclaim for bringing attention to victims worldwide but was often frustrated both by the bureaucracy and by the willingness to compromise on principle. Now back in Ireland and heading her Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, she has found the independence she needs to work effectively on behalf of the millions of poor around the world most affected by climate change.
Told with the same calm conviction and modest pride that has guided her life, Everybody Matters will instill anyone who reads it with the belief that each of us can, in our own way, help to change the world for the better.
Robinson fashions a stately, forthright autobiography.... She details her work at hot spots across the globe, and writes engagingly and warmly of her current foundation addressing issues of climate change and world poverty.” Publishers Weekly
“[This] autobiography from one of the world's leading political figures provides a special insight into ongoing civil and human rights questions.... A worthy addition to the growing list of memoirs from world-class servants of the public. ” Kirkus Reviews
“This book will appeal to many kinds of readers, from memoir buffs generally to those interested in engagement with human rights issues, recent Irish history, or eloquent stateswomen of the world.” Library Journal
Robinson has a powerful curriculum vitae; she was elected to the Irish Senate at age 25, became the first female president of Ireland in 1990, has been the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, and now runs the Mary Robinson Foundation—Climate Justice, which seeks to help those most affected by global climate change. Yet she describes growing up in a small town in west Ireland as the “only girl wedged between four brothers.” Her autobiography is written in humble fashion, sometimes intimate and occasionally peppered with wit. In three parts, she straightforwardly covers the span of her life: prepresidency (including time in the United States at Harvard Law School), during the presidency, and—the longest portion—her subsequent work on human rights issues worldwide. This is a book that looks optimistically at the world, aimed at giving readers the inspiration to find their own voices and to act bravely for human rights.
Verdict This book will appeal to many kinds of readers, from memoir buffs generally to those interested in engagement with human rights issues, recent Irish history, or eloquent stateswomen of the world.—Catherine McMullen, Canby P.L., OR
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
An autobiography from one of the world's leading political figures provides a special insight into ongoing civil and human rights questions. Oxfam International honorary president Robinson explores the events that shaped her qualifications for the role she played on the global stage. An early advocate of church/state separation and a career of legal advocacy led her first to the Irish Senate, then to the country's presidency, then to a position as the U.N.'s high commissioner for human rights. Educated in Paris during the Algerian War, Robinson writes about how her views of human rights were shaped philosophically and legally: "I went back to reading about Gandhi…I read more of Martin Luther King." This foundation stayed with her as she qualified for law degrees on both sides of the Atlantic and began to work in areas where conflict between personal morality and criminal codes became a source of unjust individual suffering. Ireland's European treaty commitments on human rights provided a lever to secure advances within her own country, which both benefited the cause of individual Irish men and women as well as people throughout Europe. Robinson describes winning Josie Airey the right to separate from an abusive husband "as the type of case [she] loved." Successful political advocacy helped her become Ireland's first female president, and Robinson recounts how she transformed the office. Later controversies arising during the Iraq War have not undermined her international stature. She bases her view of human rights on FDR's "Four Freedoms, and she emphasizes the importance of the universal right to "decent work." A worthy addition to the growing list of memoirs from world-class servants of the public.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)|