The Obamians - James Mann

His 2004 book, The Rise of the Vulcans, about the backgrounds and experiences of George W. Bush’s foreign policy team, established James Mann as an insightful and balanced chronicler of the personalities who shape foreign policy. In The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power (Viking, $26.95), Mann offers a complex portrait of the foreign policy- making apparatus around President Obama. He describes how Obama and his team in some ways have followed through on their initial pledges to break with the policies of the Bush administration, but how in other ways they have accommodated themselves to the preexisting order. Obama is portrayed as the master of his own foreign policy. But the book also highlights the influence of two main groups around the president—the older, experienced Washington hands including Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates, and Leon Panetta, and a younger, very politically attuned group closer to Obama that includes Denis McDonough, Ben Rhodes, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice.