The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III

The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III

by Peter Baker, Susan Glasser


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From two of America's most revered political journalists comes the definitive biography of legendary White House chief of staff and secretary of state James A. Baker III: the man who ran Washington when Washington ran the world.

For a quarter-century, from the end of Watergate to the aftermath of the Cold War, no Republican won the presidency without his help or ran the White House without his advice. James Addison Baker III was the indispensable man for four presidents because he understood better than anyone how to make Washington work at a time when America was shaping events around the world. The Man Who Ran Washington is a page-turning portrait of a power broker who influenced America's destiny for generations.

A scion of Texas aristocracy who became George H. W. Bush's best friend on the tennis courts of the Houston Country Club, Baker had never even worked in Washington until a devastating family tragedy struck when he was thirty-nine. Within a few years, he was leading Gerald Ford's campaign and would go on to manage a total of five presidential races and win a sixth for George W. Bush in a Florida recount. He ran Ronald Reagan's White House and became the most consequential secretary of state since Henry Kissinger. He negotiated with Democrats at home and Soviets abroad, rewrote the tax code, assembled the coalition that won the Gulf War, brokered the reunification of Germany and helped bring a decades-long nuclear superpower standoff to an end. Ruthlessly partisan during campaign season, Baker governed as the avatar of pragmatism over purity and deal-making over division, a lost art in today's fractured nation.

His story is a case study in the acquisition, exercise, and preservation of power in late twentieth-century America and the story of Washington and the world in the modern era—how it once worked and how it has transformed into an era of gridlock and polarization. This masterly biography by two brilliant observers of the American political scene is destined to become a classic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385540551
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/29/2020
Pages: 720
Sales rank: 3,070
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

PETER BAKER is the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, a political analyst for MSNBC, and author of Days of Fire and The Breach. SUSAN GLASSER is a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of its weekly "Letter from Trump's Washington" as well as a CNN global affairs analyst. Their first assignment as a married couple was as Moscow bureau chiefs for The Washington Post, after which they wrote Kremlin Rising. Today they live in Washington, D.C., with their son.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Velvet Hammer xiii

Part 1

1 In the Magnolia City 3

2 The Warden's Son 22

3 God Came Today 37

4 A Long Dark Night 53

Part 2

5 Miracle Man 69

6 Out of the Back Room 91

7 The Asterisk Club 104

8 Troika 129

9 Shit Detector 141

10 Big Leagues 151

Part 3

11 The Witches' Brew 173

12 The Ratfuck 190

13 The Dark Side 207

14 Morning in America 222

15 Fencing Master 246

16 Black Monday 269

17 The Handler 294

Part 4

18 Jigsaw Puzzle 321

19 Fly-Fishing with Shevy 337

20 The Curtain Falls 357

21 Winners and Losers 378

22 Desert Diplomacy 393

23 Eyes of a Killer 417

24 In the Souk 430

25 A Call to Action 455

26 The Crudest Turn 479

Part 5

27 The Virus 511

28 Scorched Earth 529

29 Grave and Deteriorating 551

Epilogue: Three Funerals and an Election 575

Acknowledgments 586

Notes 590

Bibliography 657

Index 665

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