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

Written by:
Susan Glasser , Peter Baker
Narrated by:
Michael Quinlan

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
September 2020
26 hours 35 minutes
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.

Jacket photograph: James Addison Baker, III by Michael Arthur Worden Evans, c. 1984. Gelatin silver print. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Portrait Project, Inc.
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Donald W.

It goes without saying that for biographers the success of their work is critically dependent on their choice of subject. These authors have made no mistake in that regard. As their book underscores, their subject is among the most important and influential figures of the 20th Century, both as a diplomat and a politician, and surely the most significant unelected figure of our time. But a good story can be badly told. This one is not. The authors offer a crisp and superbly researched examination of the extraordinary events that characterized an extraordinary life, events that taken together offer both a panorama of 50 years of the American experience and a keen understanding of this complex and accomplished man.

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Mark B.

Excellent book and excellent narrator! I loved every chapter.

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Terrific book: Well researched; balanced; a mix of Baker's personal. professional and political lives; fascinating insights into recent history and its players. The narration fit the subject matter ann Baker himself perfectly.

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