The Obamians - a conversation with best-selling author James Mann about his new book

The Obamians - a conversation with best-selling author James Mann about his new book

A conversation with James Mann, author of New York Times bestsellers "The Rise of the Vulcans" and "The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan," and Burkle Center Director Kal Raustiala about the acclaimed author's new book, "The Obamians."

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Duration: 1:10:36


In The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power, bestselling author and acclaimed reporter James Mann takes readers inside the back rooms of the White House, Pentagon, State Department and CIA to reveal the interplay of events, ideas, personalities and conflicts that drive America’s foreign policy at the highest levels. Having written the definitive book on Bush’s war cabinet (The New York Times bestseller, The Rise of the Vulcans), and a nuanced exploration of the true nature of Reagan’s role in ending the Cold War (The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan), Mann now provides the definitive book on Barack Obama’s foreign policy team.

At the heart of the foreign policy struggle are the generational conflicts between the Democratic establishment—still influenced by the legacy of Vietnam—and Obama’s inner circle of largely unknown, relatively youthful advisors who came of age after the end of the Cold War. When President Obama took office in 2009, he brought with him a fresh group of advisors intent on carving out a new global role for America in the wake of the Bush Administration’s war in Iraq and the resulting mistrust of the United States throughout the world. Mann has conducted hundreds of interviews with prominent government officials, politicians and those close to Obama.

The Obamians provides stunning new details of the Obama administration’s foreign policy efforts. Exhaustively reported and lucidly argued, The Obamians is a compelling, even-handed account of the administration’s struggle to enact a coherent and effective set of policies in a time of global turmoil.


James Mann is a Washington-based author who has written a series of award-winning books about American foreign policy and about China. He is a former newspaper reporter, foreign correspondent and columnist who wrote for more than twenty years for the Los Angeles Times.  He is now an author-in-residence at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Mann’s best-known work is Rise of the Vulcans: A History of Bush’s War Cabinet. Published in 2004, the book became a New York Times best-seller. The Wall Street Journal called it “a work of serious intellectual history and a nuanced analysis of the debates that will continue to shape American foreign policy long after the Vulcans themselves have left the stage.” The pathbreaking book served as the primary source for accounts about the careers and ideas of Vice President Cheney and his associates.  

Before become a full-time author, Mann worked for more than three decades as a newspaper reporter, foreign correspondent and columnist. In his early twenties, he was a metro reporter for the Washington Post, where he worked on some of the early Watergate stories (the Nixon campaign issued a subpoena for Mann, along with Post publisher Katherine Graham and reporters Bob Woodward, to testify about Watergate coverage). From 1978 to 2001 Mann wrote for the Los Angeles Times, where he served as Supreme Court correspondent, Beijing bureau chief, diplomatic correspondent and foreign affairs columnist. His work was awarded the Edward Weintal Prize in 1999 for distinguished career-long coverage of foreign policy, and he also was a two-time winner of the Edwin M. Hood Award for diplomatic reporting.