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‘We caught this kind of lightning in a bottle’: An Obama White House memoir

KUOW Photo/John O'Brien
Ben Rhodes at the Seattle Public Library Central Library

Ben Rhodes was a 24-year-old aspiring writer living in New York on 9/11. What happened that day made him want to be part of the response.  As you’ll hear in this talk, when his visit to an Army recruiter didn’t pan out, he looked for a way to get involved politically. 

After a long stint writing speeches for and advising former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton, Rhodes joined the fledgling 2008 Obama presidential campaign. The rest, as they say, is history.

Rhodes’ new book about that experience is “The World As It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House.” The New Yorker’s George Packer calls it “The closest view of Obama we’re likely to get until he publishes his own memoir.”

In it, Rhodes considers the most significant issues and moments of Obama’s presidency, like the roles of racism, political and cultural partisanship, the search for bin Laden, the Arab Spring, the nuclear deal with Iran and the diplomatic opening with Cuba.

At the end of his eight-year tenure with the Obama administration, Rhodes was assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting. He travelled extensively with the president and came to know him as a friend.

Rhodes spoke with Crosscut Managing Editor Florangela Davila on June 27 at the Seattle Public Library’s Central Library. The event was co-presented with The Elliott Bay Book Company.

Listen to the full version below: 

Year started with KUOW: 2006