Inside the Obama White House
A revelatory, behind-the-scenes account of the Obama presidency from perhaps his closest collaborator, and a political memoir about the power of words to change our world.
*THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*
'Intelligent, amiable, compelling and principled ... a classic coming-of-age story, about the journey from idealism to realism, told with candor and immediacy'
NEW YORK TIMES
This is a book about two people making the most important decisions in the world. One is Barack Obama. The other is Ben Rhodes.
The World As It Is tells the full story of what it means to work alongside a radical leader; of how idealism can confront reality and survive; of how the White House really functions; and of what it is to have a partnership, and ultimately a friendship, with a historic president.
A young writer and Washington outsider, Ben Rhodes was plucked from obscurity aged 29. Chosen for his original perspective and gift with language, his role was to help shape the nation’s hopes and sense of itself. For nearly ten years, Rhodes was at the centre of the Obama Administration – first as a speechwriter, then a policymaker, and finally a multi-purpose aide and close collaborator.
Rhodes puts us in the room at the most tense and poignant moments in recent history: starting every morning with Obama in the Daily Briefing; waiting out the bin Laden raid in the Situation Room; reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran; leading secret negotiations with the Cuban government; confronting the resurgence of nationalism that led to the election of Donald Trump.
This is the most vivid portrayal yet of Obama’s presidency. It is an essential record of the last decade. But it also shows us what it means to hold the pen, and to write the words that change our world.
“Ben’s one of the few who’ve been with me since that first presidential campaign. His memoir is one of the most compelling stories I’ve seen about what it’s actually like to serve the American people for eight years in the White House”
“Ben Rhodes … has written a book that reflects the president he served — intelligent, amiable, compelling and principled … a classic coming-of-age story, about the journey from idealism to realism, told with candor and immediacy … There are anecdotes galore, but they illuminate rather than scandalize … Ben Rhodes is a charming and humble guide through an unprecedented presidency … As a result, his achievement is rare for a political memoir: He has written a humane and honorable book”
New York Times
“Vivid, lucid, enjoyable ... A compelling account of life in the Obama White House”
Justin Webb, The Times
Peter Conrad, Observer
“A page-turning, unfiltered, altogether human look at Barack Obama’s presidency. Ben Rhodes — one of Obama’s closest and most important advisers — opens up the defining issues of the presidency: from the role of race and the rise of conspiracy theories to the hunt for bin Laden, the Syria “red line” debate, and the secret negotiations Ben himself led to normalize ties with Cuba. Insightful, funny, and moving, this is a beautifully observed, essential record of what it was like to be there.”
Samantha Power, Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations
“This stylish, beautifully writtenpolitical memoir reminds us that the local and the universal are intimately braided. Ben Rhodes steps into the river of history and charts a course through some of the most significant and alarming landscapes of our times. In this meditation on story-telling and power, Rhodes helps make sense of the bewildering times we currently inhabit. Alongside President Obama, he shakes us out of the ruts of ordinary perception and manages to find hope in the face of most available evidence.”
Colum McCann, author of Let The Great World Spin
“Ben Rhodes is one of the most brilliant minds and powerful storytellers I’ve ever known. In The World As It Is, he doesn’t just bring you inside the room for the key moments of Obama’s presidency, he captivates you with the journey of an idealistic young staffer who becomes the President’s close friend and advisor – a journey that both cynics and believers will find riveting and hopeful.”
Jon Favreau, former Director of Speechwriting for President Obama
“More than any other White House memoirist, Rhodes is a creature of the man he served”
George Packer, New Yorker
“This is that rare beast, an engaging and wonderfully written book on foreign policy”
Steve Bloomfield, Prospect
“[Ben Rhodes’s] achievement is rare for a political memoir: he has written a humane and honourable book”
Joe Klein, Scotland on Sunday
“Part of the charm of Rhode’s story is that he doesn’t try to hide the extent to which this was largely about his own crisis of identity. The book is engagingly honest in its self-centredness… Rhodes understands the anomalousness of his own situation”
David Runciman, London Review of Books
“Rhodes explores some of the darker elements of speechwriting… [and shows] communications is often a battle between a two-dimensional and a three-dimensional view-point”
David Pitofsky, Times Literary Supplement