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24th May 2024

Book review: Say More: Lessons from Work, the White House and the World by Jen Psaki

Finito World


Jen Psaki has become a Democratic sage by virtue of having served in both the Obama and the Biden administrations, the latter for 16 months. In today’s polarised America, it was never expected to be a pro-Trump memoir, and it isn’t – but it also has a certain nuance which can be missing from the typical score-settling memoir. We get some vignettes of life at the top of politics. Barack Obama proves relaxed about her taking on the role of Director of Communications and then needing to go on maternity leave. Joe Biden is surprised to hear that he doesn’t help the grieving family members as much as he hopes to when he tries to relate their loss back to the loss of his own son Beau. ‘I thought I was helping them’. At one point, John Kerry makes a gaffe and Psaki learns the importance of quick feedback: it’s often better to speak your mind on the spot, than to pause and let a matter linger. At another point she observes, “Advising someone is not the same as appeasing them.” I suppose this is true, though, like a lot of the wisdom in this book, bordering on the obvious. Nevertheless, it’s worth a look.

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