Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

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Madame President follows Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s incredible life: from her childhood through the dark days of her violent marriage and her imprisonment by the dictator Samuel Doe to her triumphant political career.

As Liberia’s 24th president and the first elected female head of state in Africa, Sirleaf was catapulted to international stardom. Yet her election came after decades of instability and bloody civil war, and Sirleaf soon dedicated herself to the economic and social recovery of her country. Just as the people of Liberia began to see progress, a new crisis arrived — the 2015 Ebola epidemic.

Told with both depth and humor, Madame President is the well-researched portrait of a fascinating public figure and the nation she worked for decades to heal.

Trigger warnings for domestic violence and sexual assault.

“In Bong County, at a tiny clinic up on a hill some distance from the main road, Madame picked her way in the rain by foot through potholes soaked in mud, her security guards surrounding her. They climbed, slowly, up the hill, until finally arriving at a place where the nurses had wrapped plastic bags around their hands as they sought to take care of the sick. They had not been paid in months. Most of them were terrified.  But they were there anyway, treating patients in the little clinic in Bong County.  A feeling of acute despair swept through Madame. She knew this scene was replicated throughout the country, where clinic after clinic of forgotten people toiled in obscurity, facing incredible risk. She left behind a box of plastic gloves she had brought with her, feeling angry and inadequate.”

Helene Cooper is a Liberian-born journalist, memoirist, and author. Her books include Madame President and The House at Sugar Beach. In 2015, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her work covering the Ebola epidemic in West Africa for The New York Times.

Published: 2017
Length: 336 pages
Set in: Monrovia, Liberia