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The Obamians: How a Band of Newcomers Redefined American Power

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  203 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
The definitive analysis of the events, ideas, personalities, and conflicts that have defined Obama’s foreign policy

When Barack Obama took office, he brought with him a new group of foreign policy advisers intent on carving out a new global role for America in the wake of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq. Now the acclaimed author of Rise of the Vulcans offers a definit
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Published June 14th 2012 by Blackstone Audiobooks
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Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: presidents
This was superb.

I read and enjoyed James Mann’s two previous books on Presidents and foreign policy: The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan which posited Reagan’s evolution of thought on the Soviet Union; and The Rise of the Vulcans about George W. Bush and his band of neo-conservatives. I found both books illuminating and refreshingly non-partisan. I had not heard about The Obamians and was surprised to see it shelved on the $2 everything-here-must-go shelves at Half-Priced Books. It deserved more res
Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Paula Broadwell
Anyone tempted to be critical of the Obama administration for not reaching heights of greatness thus far needs to bear in mind: before you can attempt those heights, you have to play the hand you've been dealt. Not only on the economy, where four years after 2008 we are still extracting ourselves from a profoundly deep and wide recession, massive unemployment, and a cratered housing market, but also in foreign policy. The Bush administration's two wars left America despised around the world, and ...more
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I was reading The Obamians, I found myself thinking of the old cliche about journalism being the first draft of history, with the emphasis on 'first draft.' The Obamians was released in the summer of 2012, little more than three years after Obama took office, and thus its account of Obama's foreign policy record is necessarily tentative. As I write this, there have been reports that the Iranian leadership may be interested in a nuclear deal. That deal may happen, or Israel may launch airst ...more
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid analysis of President Obama's worldview and his administration's approach to foreign policy.
Holly Morrow
James Mann wrote “The Rise of the Vulcans” during the Bush administration about the group of neocons (Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith, etc) who had a profound effect on the Bush presidency’s foreign policy – and more specifically, about their intertwined personal history over many years and the evolution of their philosophy of international affairs and national power. It was a terrific book, and essential reading for understanding the Bush 43 years. “The Obamians” is Mann’s attempt to do the ...more
Carol N
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contains an analysis of Obama’s foreign policy—with a new afterword for his second term

A new group of foreign policy advisers intent on carving out a new global role for America were appointed when Barack Obama took office. This author offers a conclusive, even-handed account of the realities faced in implementing these foreign policies. Also included in this book are the conflicts between the Democratic establishment—Robert Gates, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden—and Obama and his largely unknown
Brad VanAuken
This is a very balanced, informative and interesting exploration of how President Barak Obama built his foreign policy team and how they addressed the foreign policy issues. It provides insight into the similarities and differences between the environment in which he is operating versus that of his predecessors. It also highlights how his staff and thinking evolved over time based on external responses to his policies. One of the more fascinating aspects of this is the effect of being surrounded ...more
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
James Mann, in "The Obamians", reviews the players behind the policies, and how policies were developed, during the Obama Administration. It was interesting to hear about some of the less well known individuals in the Obama Administration. The book is similar to, but not quite as coherent and ordered as Mann's earlier book "The Vulcans" describing the neo-conservative advisers behind G.W. Bush. As a frequent audiobook listener, this is probably one book I would have preferred in the printed form ...more
Oct 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the book was helpful in deciphering the foreign policy of the Obama administration (so far). A description of other recent administrations is given in the beginning of the book so that you can understand the development of ideas and philosophies used in the Obama administration.
Overall, this is a good overview of the administration and its foreign policy. I thought it was well worth the read, and once I got into it, I finished it quickly. "Obama's Wars" by Bob Woodward has a lot of inf
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thorough review of three years of foreign policy under the Obama administration, focusing on the conflict and interplay between the young and less experienced idealists that Obama brought in and the more experienced realists with whom they had to work in order to function.

This book is not pro-Obama or anti-Obama, but, rather, covers Obama's triumphs, most notably the killing of Osama bin Laden, and his failures, notably the decision not to support the Green movement in Iran and Obama's poor tr
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smart, well-researched account of the personalities and structural constraints guiding the Obama administration during its first term. By no means a hagiography, Mann provides an excellent glimpse at how Obama and his inner circle navigated the legacy of the Bush administration as well as earlier Democratic administrations - while also dealing with the growing awareness of the limits of US power post-Iraq and post-financial crisis.
Zach Cohen
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great, in-depth, objective profile of Obama's foreign policy team. Brilliantly researched with both anecdotal detail and broad, sweeping understanding of American foreign policy make this a must-read for any IR expert (though some of it may already be obsolete in his second term). Parts can be a little slow and cumbersome, but the insight into an administration that usually spurns access to the press is very valuable.
This book isn't as coherent and focused as Rise of the Vulcans is, but that's at least as much due to the lack of coherence in the Obama foreign policy apparatus as it is to James Mann's writing. A very useful look at how our last president chose to construct his foreign policy staff, on the eve of another president doing the same.
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book describes backgrounds of Obama's key foreign policy team and addresses major issues dealt with during the first three years of his Presidency, including the assassination of Bin Laden. I don't think the book will change any minds, but it does add insight to the complexity involved in foreign policy decisions.
Oct 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid read exploring the historical roots of Obama Admin's first term foreign policy. It does not hold back from criticism or raising questions.

Probably the best framework available for understanding how this Admin has approach previous foreign policy problems, and how it has evolved that approach in the second term.
Anthony Nelson
Tries to cover too much and as a result is dissapointingly shallow. The middle east coverage is very good, European ok, and Asia focused abysmal. I don't believe Latin America was mentioned at any point.

Would have been much better if it had tried to tell the same story by exploring one specific theme- the Arab Spring coverage is excellent, and would have benefited from being expanded.
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a great Part I history of the personalities in the Obama administration. The conclusions reached in the book seem premature though. Overall, it is an excellent insider account of the conflicts and resolutions between individuals under Obama.
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
pretty good book about Obama's foreign policy. first 100 pgs are a mess but the rest of the book is pretty straight forward. pretty good crash course on what Obama has done besides domestic policy.
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A balanced looks at Obama's first term. Engaging and insightful reading. A must read for anyone who seeks to understand the mechanics of the modern presidency.
Dec 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
good report of Obama's foreign policy and factors that shape it--not a personality driven perspective
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Pretty solid read, if a tad more credulous than I'd like. I especially appreciated his very detailed footnoting, which many journalist-historians could learn from.
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a good look at this historic president and his inner circle, and of how their policies may or may not continue to shape America and the world.
Samuel Leopold

A better understanding why the Obama administration continued Bush's policies while being just as much as a failure (in my opinion).
Saul Tean
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it
Fleming Voetmann
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Jan 01, 2013
yixin wang
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Aug 28, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Oct 08, 2012
Miguel M.
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Dec 24, 2014
Steve Jones
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Jun 18, 2016
Jeff Schauer
rated it it was ok
Dec 28, 2012
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James Mann is the author of six books on American politics and national security issues, including Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet and The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power. A longtime correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, he is currently a fellow in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. ...more
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