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APRIL 16, 2008

If only the Middle East and bureaucracy were always this funny
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NONFICTION: Shut Up, I’m Talking


Most political memoirs are about self-justification and settling old scores. Hardly any are devoted to insisting that the memoirist had no idea what he was doing. But Gregory Levey, a former speechwriter for the Israeli Mission to the U.N., spends most of his new memoir, Shut Up, I’m Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government, confessing that he was almost constantly mystified by his job. The result is a new twist on the genre: insider political memoir as surreal black comedy.

Levey got his speechwriting gig while applying for an internship. He was soon caught up in increasingly improbable scenarios: from firearms training with Radiohead’s tour manager to working Seinfeld references into Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s speeches.

Secretly run the world? If only. Once you read about the time Levey voted on a U.N. resolution without really knowing what it was, you’ll wonder how the Israelis manage to get anything done.

BUY Shut Up, I’m Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government (Free Press; hardcover; 288 pages)

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