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The World As It Is: Inside the Obama White House

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  864 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
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 friend
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Hardcover, 480 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Bodley Head
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Malia
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Progress doesn’t move in a straight line.”
― Ben Rhodes, The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House

Fellow fans of Pod Save America will recognize Ben Rhodes from his many visits to the podcast, others will know his name as that of Obama's Deputy Security Advisor and confidante. This book is sold as Rhodes memoir, but it is really more the story of the way his life wrapped around the eight years he worked in the White House. This book is very well written and though long, engaging fro
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Mehrsa
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Man this book was frustrating--on a few levels: 1. Because I so badly miss the obama administration's unassailable good faith and their desire to actually not do stupid shit. 2. Because they did do so much stupid shit because they misunderstood the "other side." Either Assad in Syria, the Republicans, Trump, Bibi, etc. Obama was way too chill to fight. 3. The entire focus seemed to be on foreign policy and that's too bad because there was so much to be fixed on the domestic front. 4. How naive t ...more
Owlseyes
Really, in what emotional stage is he now?
He said "he" would never win the election, rather "she" would win. It turns out "he" won on the 8th of November 2016. So, he lost, so did "she".
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/05/30...
Pedro Pinheiro
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and fluid read. The book covers the entire Obama's candidature and terms in office, dwelling especially on foreign policy. The narrative is coloured with personal stories and the author evolution on the job.
Highly recommended for people that might be critical of Obama's foreign interventions (or lack thereof). As they say, everything is more complicated than it seems and this book shows that with excellent writing and storytelling.
Mal Warwick
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I rarely read political memoirs, because so often they're one-sidedly partisan and self-serving. They tend to lack any sense of balance. For example, though I didn't read Hillary Clinton's book about the 2016 election, I saw enough reviews to know that its primary purpose was to deflect blame for her defeat entirely onto other people, when in fact she herself contributed to the loss in several ways. Similarly, I have little hope for most of the dozens of tell-all books that former Obama aides ar ...more
Jen
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rhodes was primarily a communications professional in the Obama White House, so it's not surprising at all that he's a great writer. He made some really complicated foreign policy situations very accessible and as a career bureaucrat myself, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the White House runs kind of like any other agency that I've ever worked for, only on a much larger scale, must faster, with much higher stakes.

Two things that really stood out for me reading Rhodes' memoir. The first
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Susan
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, politics
As I was finishing Ben Rhodes memoir of his years with President Obama's first campaign and eight years in the White House, tears came to my eyes for what we have lost. Rhodes was hired by the campaign for his foreign policy experience since he had worked for former Democratic Representative Lee Hamilton at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a DC think tank. He takes us through the arc of his service from the very first time he helped with debate prep during the campaign to th ...more
Mike
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this memoir by Ben Rhodes who was a speechwriter a national security advisor to President Obama for eight years. This book is basically a history of the foreign policy and international relations of the Obama administration. There is very little time spent looking at domestic issues outside of how international issues impact the administration politically.

Rhodes writes very well (he has an MFA so that makes sense) and does a great job of mixing his personal story with the story
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Harris N. Miller
Where’s the Beef?

Ben Rhodes, by all accounts, including his own, is a good guy. A true patriot who had the opportunity to spend eight years on Obama’s staff as both a speechwriter and a foreign policy advisor and operative. So I began this memoir with high expectations that I would obtain some new insights into Obama, including why he failed to trumpet his successes until it was too late for the American people to have time to process. But my hopes were dashed. The book is boring. Rhodes is so b
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Summer Sharp
This was an interesting listen. Not as fascinating as others political books I've listened to. It was easy to walk away. That's usually a sign I'm not fascinated or entertained by a book. It was more into the weeds of foreign policy and events and thoughts going on whenajor policy changes were under way. I'm glad I listened to it though. I feel like I understand more of the subtle undercurrents involved in some of our key international relationships and have a greater appreciation for the months ...more
Stephanie
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Obama-bestuur beschreven als een man alleen in de arena wijst naar een stier uit het zicht met uit de lucht beschuldigingen dat het boek nauwkeurig beschrijft met verschillende educatieve intuïties, dipolaticly en van politieke neutraliteit. wanneer het in contexten wordt geplaatst, is het een em-ingenieursmodel van domino's in gang gezet met de administratie en nauwelijks geëffectueerd met de machtsverschuiving in het huis. Buitenlandse communicatie werd overgelaten aan de kunstenaars en het bo ...more
Geoffrey Clapp
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding. Not a simple "here's what we did and why I was right" memoir we see so often as administrations turn over, but a unique view of the administration through the changing eyes of the author through success and failure. As one of the only members of the Obama administration who was there on the first and last days, Ben Rhodes provides a unique insight to the changes of the staff, changes in our politics, and changes in Obama that very few people could provide.

As a political junkie and
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Samuel
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Necessary read to complete your Obama staffer reading set. Also, I didn’t think I could admire Obama and disdain Bibi Netanyahu more than I already do and this book proved me wrong on both (side note: what on earth are “lateral” meetings, uni, bi, or multi, got zero clue what they mean and everyone keeps using it).
Joe
An evocative portrayal of President Obama disguised as the memoir from an eight year inner circle staffer. The Obama of Ben Rhodes's story seems more human, less polished than in other accounts. Though there still is a bit of hero worship baked into his reminiscing, Rhodes shows us the Obama on display between the many drafts of speeches and statements. From telling the press pool aboard the back of Air Force One that he wants the Obama doctrine to be "Don't do stupid sh*t." to waking up a bit g ...more
Chris Casey
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A tremendously enjoyable and insightful read, which is also, too soon, sadly nostalgic for 'The America As It Was', led by a smart, thoughtful, articulate, and empathetic human being in President Obama. Thank you @brhodes for your service to him, and to all of us, and for the great job you did here sharing that experience.
Nancy
I read this book because Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama's communications director who focused on foreign policy, is a Friend of The Pod. It is a must read for all Pod Save America listeners.

But I wasn't sure I'd be enthralled since foreign policy isn't something I'm as focused on or know much about. That was an unfound fear. The writing is clear, the locations and policies are well explained (without belaboring any points), and Ben's interaction with both Obama and other staffers made this very intere
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Sondos Shapsogh
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting memoir by Ben Rhodes, with so many notable accomplishments by Obama administration where Rhodes took an active part in. However, on the flip side, a reader might feel Obama seemed to focus more on foreign policy than concentrating equally on domestic affairs of the American people. The memoir also reveals how much Obama to deal with from the Republicans, including racism and opposition to his policies. Finally, a reader might feel Obama didn’t do enough on foreign issues s ...more
Andrea
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A REALLY terrific read. Thank you to Ben Rhodes for reminding us and bringing forth a wonderful tribute to President Obama and the other wonderful people that populated that era. We knew it was a difficult to be honest, dedicated, steadfast, hardworking and smart in Washington, DC but this book brings that home to us. It's a beautiful thing.
Kate
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I loved this book - which gives you an inside look at some of the foreign policy decisions made during the Obama administration - but it also made me incredibly sad. Because the world is a wondrous place and learning about different places, trying to come together on what we can agree on, it is what we should do. I miss my world under a president who believed those ideals.
Marcia King
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The road from idealism to reality

I wasn’t a big fan of Obama when he was President. I was wrong. Ben Rhodes does an outstanding job discussing the reasons for decisions, giving context to the headlines, and describing the intelligent manner in which the White House operated. I still don’t agree with everything President Obama did. But I understand better and truly miss having a well-read, strategic, intelligent man in the White House. History will be good to President Obama.
Cesar
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The world as it is, is a disgusting and cruel place. More-so in contemporary American politics. At the same time, the world as it is, is filled with people like Ben Rhodes and Barack Obama who continue to push the moral arc of the universe towards justice.

Like the zig-zags of human progress, this book made me both incredibly jaded yet filled me with an undying hope for the future of our country. Even when face to face with the fiercest opposition, we can always push beyond the limits of what we
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Walden
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
rare window into the intricacies of foreign policy making and how the Obama makes tough decisions
Robin Case
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Ok, readable inside account of the Obama White House. Not particularly insightful. A little dull. I used the audio version.
Ken Hamner
Jun 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Mostly hero worship and a spin job on the facts. Pretty disappointing.
Tom Kammerer
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing but admiration for the author and his boss, proud of the job they did and the world as it was then; disgusted by the leadership we have now
Robin Westphal
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ben Rhodes adds details on a story line as he shares insightful moments with Obama. Incredible team Obama had working for the betterment of America
Dipanjan
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very readable

Offers a peek into the lives of people of who make the news and into decision making. Very easy read.
D.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Written for the base, a bit too much hindsight at times. Section about the NY Times interview was particularly interesting for those who are aware of the power of narratives.
Craig Amason
What I took away from this book may not be what the author intended for his readers. Rhodes is quite honest about his missteps as one of President Obama's closest advisors, which to many readers will reveal as much about the President as it does about Rhodes. As he tells his story of progressing from a volunteer campaign aid up to the position of Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Rhodes reveals how his lack of experience, and even ideological gullibility, sometimes l ...more
Jack
This book suffered from high expectations. I've seen Ben Rhodes' name pop up in various news articles through the years but he remained an undifferentiated staffer in my mind until I watched The Final Year. After this movie I read up on his background, and became enamored with the idea of the highly-competent Obama aide with a writerly background and a close connection with the president. My expectations were too inflated, I hoped for a political memoir that would be more novelesque in its eloqu ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions and Correct Title 2 16 Jun 16, 2018 03:04PM  
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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–Se ...more
More about Ben Rhodes
“had given Trump a platform to peddle racist lies, and few Republicans condemned it.” 0 likes
“People always say never again,” he said. “But they never want to do anything.” 0 likes
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