After the Fall: Being American in the World We've Made
A book talk with Ben Rhodes, author & advisor to former President Barack Obama.
Tuesday, June 8, 202111:00 AM (Pacific Time)
ABOUT THE BOOK
Why is democracy so threatened in America and around the world? And what can we do about it? A former White House aide and close confidant to President Barack Obama—and the New York Times bestselling author of The World as It Is—travels the globe in a deeply personal, beautifully observed quest for answers.
In 2017, as Ben Rhodes was helping Barack Obama begin his next chapter, the legacy they had worked to build for eight years was being taken apart. To understand what was happening in America, Rhodes decided to look outward. Over the next three years, he traveled to dozens of countries, meeting with politicians, activists, and dissidents confronting the same nationalism and authoritarianism that was tearing America apart. Along the way, a Russian opposition leader he spoke with was poisoned, the Hong Kong protesters he came to know saw their movement snuffed out, and America itself reached the precipice of losing democracy before giving itself a second chance.
Part memoir and part reportage, After the Fall is a hugely ambitious and essential work of discovery. In his travels, Rhodes comes to realize how much America’s fingerprints are on a world we helped to shape, through our post–Cold War embrace of unbridled capitalism and our post-9/11 nationalism and militarism; our mania for technology and social media; and the racism that fueled the backlash to America’s first Black president. At the same time, Rhodes learns from the stories of a diverse set of characters—from Barack Obama himself to Cuban rebels to a rising generation of international leaders—that looking squarely at where America has gone wrong makes clear how essential it is to fight for what America is supposed to be, for our own country and the entire world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ben Rhodes is the author of the New York Times bestseller The World as It Is, co-host of Pod Save the World, a contributor for NBC News and MSNBC, and an advisor to former President Barack Obama. His most recent book is After the Fall: Being American in the World We've Made. From 2009-2017, Rhodes served as a deputy national security advisor to President Obama. In that capacity, he participated in nearly all of President Obama’s key decisions, and oversaw the President’s national security communications, speechwriting, public diplomacy and global engagement programming. He also led the secret negotiations with the Cuban government which resulted in the effort to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba, and supported the negotiations to conclude the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. Prior to joining the Administration, he was a senior speechwriter and foreign policy advisor to the Obama campaign. From 2002-2007, he worked for former Congressman Lee Hamilton, supporting his work on the 9/11 Commission and Iraq Study Group. A native New Yorker, Rhodes has a B.A. from Rice University and an M.F.A from New York University.
ABOUT THE MODERATOR
Kal Raustiala holds the Promise Institute Chair in Comparative and International Law at UCLA School of Law and is a Professor at the UCLA International Institute, where he teaches in the undergraduate program on Global Studies. He has served as the Director of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations since 2007.
Sponsor(s): Political Science
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