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The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House
Contributor(s): Rhodes, Ben (Author)

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ISBN: 0525509372     ISBN-13: 9780525509370
Publisher: Random House Trade
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Binding Type: Paperback - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: April 2019

Annotation: NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From one of Barack Obama’s most trusted aides comes a revelatory behind-the-scenes account of his presidency—and how idealism can confront harsh reality and still survive.

“The closest view of Obama we’re likely to get until he publishes his own memoir.”—George Packer, The New Yorker  


For nearly ten years, Ben Rhodes saw almost everything that happened at the center of the Obama administration—first as a speechwriter, then as deputy national security advisor, and finally as a multipurpose aide and close collaborator. He started every morning in the Oval Office with the President’s Daily Briefing, traveled the world with Obama, and was at the center of some of the most consequential and controversial moments of the presidency. Now he tells the full story of his partnership—and, ultimately, friendship—with a man who also happened to be a historic president of the United States.
Rhodes was not your typical presidential confidant, and this is not your typical White House memoir. Rendered in vivid, novelistic detail by someone who was a writer before he was a staffer, this is a rare look inside the most poignant, tense, and consequential moments of the Obama presidency—waiting out the bin Laden raid in the Situation Room, responding to the Arab Spring, reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran, leading secret negotiations with the Cuban government to normalize relations, and confronting the resurgence of nationalism and nativism that culminated in the election of Donald Trump.

In The World as It Is, Rhodes shows what it was like to be there—from the early days of the Obama campaign to the final hours of the presidency. It is a story populated by such characters as Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates, and—above all—Barack Obama, who comes to life on the page in moments of great urgency and disarming intimacy. This is the most vivid portrayal yet of Obama’s worldview and presidency, a chronicle of a political education by a writer of enormous talent, and an essential record of the forces that shaped the last decade.

Praise for The World as It Is

“A book that reflects the president [Rhodes] served—intelligent, amiable, compelling and principled . . . a classic coming-of-age story, about the journey from idealism to realism, told with candor and immediacy . . . His achievement is rare for a political memoir: He has written a humane and honorable book.”—Joe Klein, The New York Times Book Review
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Political Science | American Government - Executive Branch
- Biography & Autobiography | Political
- History | United States - 21st Century
Dewey: 973.932
LCCN: 2018459357
Physical Information: 1.1" H x 5.1" W x 7.9" (0.70 lbs) 480 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): From 2009 to 2017, Ben Rhodes served as deputy national security advisor to President Barack Obama, overseeing the administration’s national security communications, speechwriting, public diplomacy, and global engagement programming. Prior to joining the Obama administration, from 2007 to 2008 Rhodes was a senior speechwriter and foreign policy advisor to the Obama campaign. Before joining then–Senator Obama’s campaign, he worked for former congressman Lee Hamilton from 2002 to 2007. He was the co-author, with Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, of Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission. A native New Yorker, Rhodes has a BA from Rice University and an MFA from New York University.

Reviewed by PW Annex Reviews (Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews)

Many frustrations and a few victories emerge in this sometimes hopeful, often disillusioned memoir of foreign policy in the Obama administration. Rhodes (Without Precedent) was deputy national security adviser to Barack Obama, tasked with speech-writing, some diplomacy, and frequently giving advice to the president. His narrative is a study in the limits of American power: he advocated strong U.S. support for democratic reform after the Arab Spring uprisings, as well as military intervention in Libya and Syria, only to see U.S. initiatives flounder amid the region's intractable political dysfunctions, Republican obstructionism, and media hysteria. (His emails concerning the assault on the American consulate in Benghazi, he notes, provoked right-wing conspiracy-mongering.) Rhodes records triumphs as well, including the thawing of relations with Cuba, which he helped negotiate, and the nuclear agreement with Iran. Much of the book is an insider's perspective on Obama as he strategizes in the Situation Room, fences with Putin on the hotline, and broods on Air Force One; the president is rational, thoughtful, exasperated when the world doesn't follow suit, and grimly realistic. (The "Obama doctrine," per the president, is "Don't do stupid shit.") Rhodes's analyses of problems in foreign countries can be superficial, but his account of policy sausage-making is well-observed and riveting. Photos. (June)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly Annex.
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