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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.
Impeachment is a double-edged sword. Though it was designed to check tyrants, Thomas Jefferson also called impeachment “the most formidable weapon for the purpose of a dominant faction that was ever contrived.” On the one hand, it nullifies the will of voters, the basic foundation of all representative democracies. On the other, its absence from the Constitution would leave the country vulnerable to despotic leadership. It is rarely used, and with good reason.
Only three times has a president’s conduct led to such political disarray as to warrant his potential removal from office, transforming a political crisis into a constitutional one. None has yet succeeded. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 for failing to kowtow to congressional leaders—and, in a large sense, for failing to be Abraham Lincoln—yet survived his Senate trial. Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974 after the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against him for lying, obstructing justice, and employing his executive power for personal and political gain. Bill Clinton had an affair with a White House intern, but in 1999 he faced trial in the Senate less for that prurient act than for lying under oath about it.
In the first book to consider these three presidents alone—and the one thing they have in common—Jeffrey A. Engel, Jon Meacham, Timothy Naftali, and Peter Baker explain that the basis and process of impeachment is more political than legal. The Constitution states that the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” leaving room for historical precedent and the temperament of the time to weigh heavily on each case. This book reveals the complicated motives behind each impeachment—never entirely limited to the question of a president’s guilt—and the risks to all sides. Each case depended on factors beyond the president’s behavior: his relationship with Congress, the polarization of the moment, and the power and resilience of the office itself. This is a realist view of impeachment that looks to history for clues about its potential use in the future.
In Days of Fire, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, takes us on a gripping and intimate journey through the eight years of the Bush and Cheney administration in a tour-de-force narrative of a dramatic and controversial presidency.
Theirs was the most captivating American political partnership since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger: a bold and untested president and his seasoned, relentless vice president. Confronted by one crisis after another, they struggled to protect the country, remake the world, and define their own relationship along the way. In Days of Fire, Peter Baker chronicles the history of the most consequential presidency in modern times through the prism of its two most compelling characters, capturing the elusive and shifting alliance of George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney as no historian has done before. He brings to life with in-the-room immediacy all the drama of an era marked by devastating terror attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and financial collapse.
The real story of Bush and Cheney is a far more fascinating tale than the familiar suspicion that Cheney was the power behind the throne. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with key players, and thousands of pages of never-released notes, memos, and other internal documents, Baker paints a riveting portrait of a partnership that evolved dramatically over time, from the early days when Bush leaned on Cheney, making him the most influential vice president in history, to their final hours, when the two had grown so far apart they were clashing in the West Wing. Together and separately, they were tested as no other president and vice president have been, first on a bright September morning, an unforgettable “day of fire” just months into the presidency, and on countless days of fire over the course of eight tumultuous years.
Days of Fire is a monumental and definitive work that will rank with the best of presidential histories. As absorbing as a thriller, it is eye-opening and essential reading.
"For all of the titillation about thongs and cigars, the story of the impeachment and trial of William Jefferson Clinton was not so much about sex as it was about power. It may have started with an unseemly rendezvous near the Oval Office, but it mushroomed into the Washington battle of a generation, ultimately dragging in all three branches of government....
"Clinton opened his second term vowing to bring the parties together, to become the 'repairer of the breach.' But the last half of the presidency demonstrated that the breach was wider than anyone had anticipated."
-- from the Prologue
With unprecedented access to all the players -- major and minor -- Washington Post reporter Peter Baker reconstructs the compelling drama that gripped the nation for six critical months: the impeachment and trial of William Jefferson Clinton. The Breach vividly depicts the mind-boggling political and legal events as they unfolded, a day-by-day and sometimes hour-by-hour account beginning August 17, 1998, the night of the president's grand-jury testimony and his disastrous speech to the nation, through the House impeachment hearings and the Senate trial, ending on February 12, 1999, the day of his acquittal. Using 350 original interviews, confidential investigation files, diaries, and tape recordings, Baker goes behind the scenes and packs the book with newsworthy revelations -- the infighting among the president's advisers, the pressure among Democrats to call for Clinton's resignation, the secret back-channel negotiations between the White House and Congress, a tour of the War Room set up by Tom DeLay to force Clinton out of office, the agonizing of various members of Congress, the anxiety of lawmakers who feared the exposure of their own sex lives, and Hillary Clinton's learning that her husband would admit his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
The Breach is contemporary history at its best -- shocking, revealing, and consequential. It is a tale of how Washington became lost in "the breach" of its own partisan impulses. All of this, and much more, makes The Breach one of the most important and illuminating volumes of history and contemporary politics of our generation.
With the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia launched itself on a fitful transition to Western-style democracy. But a decade later, Boris Yeltsin's handpicked successor, Vladimir Putin, a childhood hooligan turned KGB officer who rose from nowhere determined to restore the order of the Soviet past, resolved to bring an end to the revolution. Kremlin Rising goes behind the scenes of contemporary Russia to reveal the culmination of Project Putin, the secret plot to reconsolidate power in the Kremlin.
During their four years as Moscow bureau chiefs for The Washington Post, Peter Baker and Susan Glasser witnessed firsthand the methodical campaign to reverse the post-Soviet revolution and transform Russia back into an authoritarian state. Their gripping narrative moves from the unlikely rise of Putin through the key moments of his tenure that re-centralized power into his hands, from his decision to take over Russia's only independent television network to the Moscow theater siege of 2002 to the "managed democracy" elections of 2003 and 2004 to the horrific slaughter of Beslan's schoolchildren in 2004, recounting a four-year period that has changed the direction of modern Russia.
But the authors also go beyond the politics to draw a moving and vivid portrait of the Russian people they encountered -- both those who have prospered and those barely surviving -- and show how the political flux has shaped individual lives. Opening a window to a country on the brink, where behind the gleaming new shopping malls all things Soviet are chic again and even high school students wonder if Lenin was right after all, Kremlin Rising features the personal stories of Russians at all levels of society, including frightened army deserters, an imprisoned oil billionaire, Chechen villagers, a trendy Moscow restaurant king, a reluctant underwear salesman, and anguished AIDS patients in Siberia.
With shrewd reporting and unprecedented access to Putin's insiders, Kremlin Rising offers both unsettling new revelations about Russia's leader and a compelling inside look at life in the land that he is building. As the first major book on Russia in years, it is an extraordinary contribution to our understanding of the country and promises to shape the debate about Russia, its uncertain future, and its relationship with the United States.