“I closed my eyes. Somewhere out there, in the vast expanse of darkness, was the story of the last eight years, the world as it is…. I was just one human being in this expanse—altered by experience, distorted by forces beyond my control, hurtling through the American darkness on the most iconic aircraft in the world. I would land for the first time at Andrews Air Force Base without a helicopter or collection of vans waiting to escort me back to the White House. I’d touch down, in the predawn hours, another human being whose own story, whose own life, had been changed by Barack Obama. I was a man, no longer young, who—in the zigzag of history—still believed in the truth within the stories of people around the world, a truth that compels me to see the world as it is, and to believe in the world as it ought to be.”
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.
“More than any other White House memoirist, Rhodes is a creature of the man he served.”
— The New Yorker
“A classic coming-of-age story, about the journey from idealism to realism, told with candor and immediacy... [Ben Rhodes’s] achievement is rare for a political memoir: He has written a humane and honorable book.”
— The New York Times Book Review
“Insightful, funny, and moving, this is a beautifully observed, essential record of what it was like to be there.”
— Samantha Power
Ben Rhodes is a writer, political commentator, and national security analyst. He is currently a contributor for NBC News and MSNBC; co-host of Pod Save the World; a senior advisor to former President Barack Obama; and chair of National Security Action, which he co-founded with Jake Sullivan in 2018. From 2009-2017, Ben served as a Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama. In that capacity, he participated in all of President Obama’s key decisions, and oversaw the President’s national security communications, speechwriting, and public diplomacy. He led the secret negotiations with the Cuban government that resulted in the effort to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba, and supported the negotiations to conclude the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made, and The World As It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House. His work has also been published in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Foreign Affairs. Ben serves on numerous boards, including Legacies of War, The Ploughshares Fund, and consults for The Obama Foundation. A native New Yorker, Ben has a B.A. from Rice University and an M.F.A from New York University.