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The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power Hardcover – June 14, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
Obama chose his inner circle among a small and informal network of people with no foreign policy experience to purposely cultivate an image of Washington outsiders. His appointment of Hillary Clinton, a pragmatic decision to remove her from the Senate where she could possibly form a coalition against him, required a revamping of this image, and thus was born the "team of rivals" phrase to give a "grand historical gloss to the uneasy merger of the Obama and Clinton teams." In contrast, Bush's aides, his "Vulcans" as the author calls them, all shared a common history, namely Vietnam.
Mann has a lot to say about Vietnam. He argues that Obama is the first president not, in some way, shaped by the war. This is true, and interesting, but he takes this argument to extremes. Obama's team is young and they "tend to believe their ideas are new and original, a response to events or trends of the twenty-first century" and not, as Mann repeatedly argues, in response to Vietnam. While the Obamians came of age in a world influenced by Iraq and the 2008 financial crisis, Mann believes Vietnam plays a seemingly unconscious influence through which all of their decisions filter.Read more ›
From here the book devotes chapters to various episodes in international affairs since 2008 and how the Obama administration managed them. Some of these chapters are a bit tedious and read like a simple rehash of newspaper accounts of global events. That being said, the chapters on China (chapter 13) and the assassination of Bin Laden (chapter 21) were captivating reading because the author perfectly blended factual occurrences with strategic planning. The book shines when Mann relies on information gleaned from an impressive array of interviews with insiders to give a behind-the-scenes image of how events looked from the White House. The tone is largely neutral except for repeated praise for Obama's "elegant" speeches (which get their own chapter) and some criticism of Obama's unwillingness to keep a campaign promise to abide by the War Powers Resolution.Read more ›
This book is not pro-Obama or anti-Obama, but, rather, covers Obama's triumphs, most notably the killing of Osama bin Laden, and his failures, notably the decision not to support the Green movement in Iran and Obama's poor treatment of Richard Holbrooke.
The Bush II story may have been a little more compelling and easier to tell as the neoconservative ideology was a major driver of Bush's foreign policy decisions and the conflict between Secretary Powell and the rest of the Bush team was a bit more striking than any conflict here. Rise of the Vulcans was published before President Bush's second term led to a reassessment of many of the early foreign policy decisions. In Obama's White House, there is less of a strict ideology and when there is one, Mann finds it is often just being the opposite of Bush.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We were forced to read this book in class and I expected it to be rather boring. To my surprise I found it really interesting and easy read. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Alexandra Lantz
Read it awhile back, but remember it being very informative and interesting. Add this book to the
others I have read and Mr. Obama is an egotist. Read more
Despite its cartoon-like cover, this is a dead serious book about Obama's foreign policy. The author discusses problems and policies with various nations. Read morePublished on November 6, 2013 by JW
It was (among other problems) the innocent way he wrote about Obama's criminal war in Libya. One time very bad leader Gadhafi had been some what disarmed WMD-wise by Bush in the... Read morePublished on August 28, 2013 by Man of truth
Bring to light much previously unknown, intriguing and entangled power relationships in Obama's national security team. Interested readers will surely benefit from Mr. Read morePublished on July 27, 2013 by James Tu
I chose a "I love it" rating because it was such an AWESOME book. The author is unbiased and very good at giving an insight into behind the doors of the White House. Read morePublished on July 4, 2013 by alena klimas