She got into politics in 1972, raising funds for the losing presidential campaign of Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine, a family friend, who named her his legislative aide. After Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential victory, Zbigniew Brzezinski became national security adviser and recruited his former Columbia student, Ms. Albright, as congressional liaison for Mr. Carter’s National Security Council.

In 2001, she founded what is now the Albright Stonebridge Group, an international consulting firm, and in 2005 she founded Albright Capital Management, focusing on emerging markets. For years, she lived in Georgetown and taught at Georgetown University and was a director of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Besides her 2003 memoir, Ms. Albright wrote “The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God and World Affairs” (2006), “Memo to the President-Elect: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership” (2008), “Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box” (2009) and “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948” (2012). Her last book, “Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st-Century Memoir,” written with Bill Woodward, was published in 2020.

Her book “Fascism: A Warning” (2018, also with Bill Woodward) put President Donald J. Trump among the world’s autocrats. In a review for The Times, Sheri Berman wrote, “Democracy’s problems can, Albright assures us, be overcome — but only if we recognize history’s lessons and never take democracy for granted.”

In the ’90s, Mrs. Albright began receiving letters from Europe with sketchy information about her family background. Then, in 1997, The Washington Post published a profile of the new secretary of state reporting that her parents had been Jews who converted to Catholicism and created a fictional past to protect their children from the Nazis.

She accepted the evidence as the truth and told The Times: “I think my father and mother were the bravest people alive. They dealt with the most difficult decision anyone could make. I am incredibly grateful to them, and beyond measure.”

Alex Traub contributed reporting.