On the Shelf
Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power
By Susan Page
Twelve: 448 pages, $33
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It’s difficult to write a fresh-sounding biography of a woman who has been in Washington longer than some members of Congress have been alive.
But even longtime watchers of House Speaker Nancy Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) will learn something new about the most powerful woman in the country — and how she got that way — from USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page’s new biography, “Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power,” out this week.
Page notes the potential pitfalls in exploring such a known quantity, noting Pelosi’s tendency to recite the same quotes by Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, even Ronald Reagan; her ability to stay relentlessly on message; and her unwillingness to dish to reporters. Some well-trod anecdotes make their way into the book, but Page’s unprecedented access to the two-time speaker — 10 conversations over two years and interviews with 150 of Pelosi’s family members, friends and confidants — opens windows into Pelosi’s working style and relationship with colleagues that few other profiles or biographies can match.
Page uncovered details from Pelosi’s life that even surprised the speaker, such as the patent her…