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Publisher's Summary

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 pause-resisting 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 39. 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 20th 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.

©2020 Peter Baker (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Enthralling, comprehensive.... The authors rightly highlight the dimensions of Baker’s illustrious career that show so much about what is broken in the current American political system." (The New York Times Book Review)

"An illuminating biographical portrait of Mr. Baker, one that describes the arc of his career and, along the way, tells us something about how executive power is wielded in the nation’s capital...often has the feel of a novel." (The Wall Street Journal)

"To capture the sweep and relevance of one of the most influential figures in American life requires two of the great reporters and observers of our time. Peter Baker and Susan Glasser have written a grand, precise, and engaging American tale that gallops from Houston Country Club to the convention floor, to the Oval Office and all over the globe, capturing James Baker’s ambition, influence, and style as well as telling the story of power and America at the end of an age.” (John Dickerson, author of The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency)

What listeners say about The Man Who Ran Washington

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We Need Baker Now More Than Ever

I finish this wonderful audiobook the day after the rioters/protesters stormed the capital in order to prevent the reading of the electoral college votes. We are living in a very hot and angry time. Baker knew how to make deals that works for everybody. We need to get back to the middle together. We need calm. Also, The narrator does a wonderful impression of Baker.

7 people found this helpful

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A great read

An underrated great biography. It should have been the best biography of the year. The narration is also first rate.

4 people found this helpful

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Great Book. Disappointing Person

Baker was all about Baker. Power was the only thing he cared about. I’m not sure he had a passion about anything. He was more interested in his legacy than the American people. It came through loud and clear in the book.

3 people found this helpful

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Great book. Terrible narration.

This is great material that is made difficult to absorb thanks to terrible narration. Not quite sure what bothered me more, the ham-fisted attempt at a Texas accent or the repeated mispronunciations; but Quinlan’s performance was just awful.

2 people found this helpful

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Fantastic

This is timely for early 2021 and is a fantastic listen. For a child of the eighties ... it makes me nostalgic for what was. It pulls no punches and by the end you will feel as though you know Secretary Baker ... as good as anyone possibly could. They don’t make them like this anymore.

You don’t have to be a Republican or a conservative to enjoy this book.

2 people found this helpful

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Where is our James A Baker?

This biography is well written as it follows the life of James Baker. Our country is in dire need of people of integrity serving in government. At my age, I remember the events in the book. I am fascinated to hear about what really went on.

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Foreign Affairs

Great history of US relations with other countries and the end of the Cold War

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Awesome story superbly written and read!

The entire book was fascinating. Never a dull moment and so much to enjoy learning about.

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Biography at it's finest

This was an excellent biography of one of the most significant political power players of the last 50 years. The writing is excellent and always interesting. I learned a lot about modern GOP.

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A Look Into Washington Republican Politics

Another round of good ol boy politics and how Washington managed, justified, and overcame as they served the American public- A job I would not want.

1 person found this helpful