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Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi's Life, Times, and Rise to Power Hardcover – April 29, 2008

3.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“All Americans should know Nancy Pelosi's remarkable story. This is a fascinating account of one of the nation's most fascinating political figures. No journalist has followed her more closely, and can tell her story better, than Marc Sandalow.” ―Willie Brown, former California Assembly Speaker and mayor of San Francisco

“An illuminating portrait of the forces that shaped Nancy Pelosi and the way she wields power as the first woman to achieve the highest post in a male-dominated institution. ” ―Eleanor Clift, contributing editor, Newsweek

“ This book is a wonderful insight into the first woman Speaker of the House. She is a modern pioneer whose life story is an inspiration to a whole new generation of women. And no one has followed her political career more closely than Marc Sandalow.” ―Leon Panetta, former White House chief of staff

About the Author

Marc Sandalow spent 21 years on the staff of the San Francisco Chronicle, the last 10 years as the paper's Washington bureau chief. He is currently a political analyst on KPIX-TV and KCBS radio in San Francisco. Sandalow is a coauthor of a book on baseball entitled Ballparks: A Panoramic History, and lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Times; First Edition edition (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594868077
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594868078
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1.2 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,023,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ryan on September 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Awesome book! The life of Nancy Pelosi is very interesting and I encourage everyone to read her story.
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Format: Hardcover
This portrait of the nation's first female Speaker of the House is built for speed; its short paragraphs and newspaper style are probably the result of Sandalow's former day job at the San Francisco Chronicle. Readers expecting a full-blown, soup-to-nuts critical biography won't find it here, and the "Times" part of the subtitle isn't quite apt. This is Pelosi's life story, told quickly and effectively, but without the benefit of much retrospection or even cooperation from the subject or her staff. (Pelosi is planning to write a memoir.) For this more replete kind of biography of a San Francisco politician, the gold standard is still John Jacobs's *Rage for Justice*, which features Phil Burton, one of Pelosi's mentors.

Still, I enjoyed *Madam Speaker* and learned a lot from it. In fact, one of the things I learned is that Pelosi wasn't Burton's creature, though Burton's widow Sala essentially bequeathed her House seat to Pelosi on her death bed. Pelosi is quoted as saying that Phil Burton might not have supported that move. Interesting.

The other thing I learned is how much political savvy Pelosi picked up from her family in Baltimore. Her father was elected both to the House and as mayor, and he did retail politics the old-fashioned way--right in the neighborhood. In fact, he did a lot of it in the family home, which was frequently full of constituents seeking favors and whatnot. Pelosi's father also provides a good deal of the book's color. Her messaging is very disciplined; he was more willing to open up his game, and Sandalow records some of his zingers, at least two of which are laugh-out-loud funny.

The picture that emerges from Sandalow's biography is that of an organized, hardworking, business-like leader.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book Review: Madame Speaker

This review is on the third book I have bought on or about her.

Two review sources have been used to help in this review: Amazon (AZN) and Barnes & Noble (B&N). An interesting sequence of Customer reviews was noted as follows:

Thirteen reviews were recorded on AZN by Peter Richardson. He was responsible for 13 out of 21
reviews. Now 21 reviews is a small number by what one would expect to see on Amazon, but
large in this sampling. His third review covered this book. Richardson notes that "Readers
expecting a full blown, soup to nuts critical biography won't find it here." He reports that the
picture that emerges from this book "is that of an organized, hardworking, business like
leader." He goes on to report that he enjoyed this book. He closed, by calling it "Very
worthwhile."
However this accolade was followed by:
"(Full disclosure: I edit Pelosi's daughter, Christine.)." This addition, while one can appreciate
The motive behind it, is surely one that would not give one much confidence in this review.

One review was recorded on AZN by C. Williams. This seven line review starts out declaring that the author "has done a superb job pulling together a coherent and well told story of the rise of Nancy Pelosi." He concludes with the observation that this "would make an excellent book group choice for women seeking inspiration." However, in my reviews on two other books on Ms Pelosi, I have noted that she may be suffering from a royalty fixation. This would not be a good fit for women "seeking inspiration."

One review was recorded on AZN by Joseph A. Hennessey. This review was substantially larger at 17 lines, primarily used for inputs from two historians: Edward H.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Edward Hallet Carr, in his seminal account of the study of history, What Is History?, writes, "History cannot be written unless the historian can achieve some kind of contact with the mind of those about whom he is writing." Yet, there exists a fine balance between a writer achieving disinterested contact with mind of those about whom one writes, and serving as an instrument in advancing or undermining the power of those about whom one writes. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. writings on the Kennedy years illustrate the danger of the later. Marc Sandalow's book Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi's Life, Times, and Rise to Power demonstrates the insight that can be achieved by the former. Sandalow's unauthorized biography draws upon years of critical reporting on Nancy Pelosi during his tenure at the San Francisco Chronicle. Years as a professional (and some times adversarial) questioner of Pelosi has yielded a narrative account of her rise to power that spares few punches yet unapologetically recognizes Speaker Pelosi's achievements where such recognition is due. E.H. Carr also wrote, "History is progress through the transmission of acquired skills from one generation to another." Speaker Pelosi has certainly acquired skills. Marc Sandalow's book is a reliable, objective, disinterested conduit through which those skills will be transmitted to a new generation of political leaders. This is a must read for those seeking to understand today's political environment, how a woman politician gathered and consolidated power, and where the Democratic Party will be heading in its recently-achieved post Clinton era.

Joseph A. Hennessey
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