They were the sunglasses that shook the world.

Now, whether it was a gentle shake or an upside-down one is up for personal interpretation, but millions saw the stride, the sunglasses, and the frozen-steel confidence from the woman who quickly became a meme. And in "Pelosi" by Molly Ball, you'll see where every step of that journey came from.

On the night before she was about to become speaker of the house for the second time, Nancy Pelosi couldn't sleep. Ultimately, she abandoned the effort altogether, and went back to work. That was, said author Ball, typical of Pelosi.

She was born Nancy D'Alesandro in the spring of 1940, the last child and the only girl of devout Baltimore Catholics. Her father was a longtime politician, and he'd hoped at least one of his sons might follow in his footsteps; that his daughter would do so was unthinkable. Politics weren't for "little girls." Nancy was "groomed to be a nun" instead.

But by the time she was a preteen, she was helping her father in his job by keeping a file of constituents who'd asked for help. It's there that young Nancy learned that being in office was being in service to those who put you there.

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That was a lesson she still keeps.

Later, but early in her marriage, Pelosi moved from her beloved Baltimore to San Francisco, because of her husband's new job.

In California, they raised five children; when the kids were older, Pelosi was appointed to serve on the city's library commission, where the talents she already had — organizing, collecting volunteers, using contacts to get things done — were put to good use. Through her efforts for the library, Pelosi met local and state politicians and became close friends with Rep. Phil Burton, whose wife won his House seat after he died.

And when she fell ill, she pointed to Pelosi as her successor.

From beginning to end, "Pelosi" is a jaw-dropping book — but not for the reasons you might think.

First, there's the biography, the raison d'etre of the book, the reason author Molly Ball has a story to tell: Despite early atmospheres of sexism and outrageous and outmoded expectations for women in the latter half of the past century, Nancy Pelosi was able to seize a latent second life for herself.

That sounds like the epitome of determination, but while Pelosi's admirers know about her laser beam of dedication, Ball reveals her softer sides. Those parts are not allowed to stand on their own, however; they're followed with stories of steel, which does a disservice to the overall tale by elevating its subject to superhero status, and which seems indulgent.

This, and a frequent lack of neutrality are both irksome; readers may also wonder why, in a book about a woman who broke the glass ceiling, Ball repeatedly mentions Pelosi's choice of fashion.

Still, expect delicious behind-the-scenes political stories, nail-biting insider accounts, and an insightful biography in "Pelosi." For that, you political animals and Washington watchers, this book will make you sunny.

"The Bookworm" is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on the prairie in Wisconsin with one man, two dogs and 16,000 books. Look for her at or bookwormsez on Twitter.