Synopses & Reviews
Before the White House and Air Force One, before the TV ads and the enormous rallies, there was the real Barack Obama: a man wrestling with the momentous decision to run for the presidency, feeling torn about leaving behind a young family, and figuring out how to win the biggest prize in politics.
This book is the previously untold and epic story of how a political newcomer with no money and an alien name grew into the worlds most powerful leader. But it is also a uniquely intimate portrait of the person behind the iconic posters and the Secret Service code name Renegade.
Drawing on a dozen unplugged interviews with the candidate and president, as well as twenty-one months covering his campaign as it traveled from coast to coast, Richard Wolffe answers the simple yet enduring question about Barack Obama: Who is he?
Based on Wolffes unprecedented access to Obama, Renegade reveals the making of a president, both on the campaign trail and before he ran for high office. It explains how the politician who emerged in an extraordinary election learned the personal and political skills to succeed during his youth and early career. With cool self-discipline, calculated risk taking, and simple storytelling, Obama developed the strategies he would need to survive the onslaught of the Clintons and John McCain, and build a multimillion-dollar machine to win a historic contest.
In Renegade, Richard Wolffe shares with us his front-row seat at Obamas announcement to run for president on a frigid day in Springfield, and his victory speech on a warm night in Chicago. We fly on the candidates plane and ride in his bus on an odyssey across a country in crisis; stand next to him at a bar on the night he secures the nomination; and are backstage as he delivers his convention speech to a stadium crowd and a transfixed national audience. From a teachers office in Iowa to the Oval Office in Washington, we see and hear Barack Obama with an immediacy and honesty never witnessed before.
Renegade provides not only an account of Obamas triumphs, but also examines his many personal and political trials. We see Obama wrestling with race and politics, as well as his former pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We see him struggling with life as a presidential candidate, a campaign that falters for most of its first year, and his reaction to a surprise defeat in the New Hampshire primary. And we see him relying on his personal experience, as well as meticulous polling, to pass the presidential test in foreign and economic affairs.
Renegade is an essential guide to understanding President Barack Obama and his trusted inner circle of aides and friends. It is also a riveting and enlightening first draft of history and political psychology.
"A good book to read if you want an answer to the question, 'What happened?' That is, what happened to the idealistic Obama of the 2008 campaign who was going to shut down GuantÃ¡namo, end indefinite detention, try terrorist suspects in civilian courts, take civil liberties more seriously, and end the rabid secrecy of the Bush era? How did he turn into the guy who not only didn't do any of that stuff, but became a drone-obsessed killing machine in the process?"
—Kevin Drum, Mother Jones
"Divulge(s) the details of top-level deliberations—details that were almost certainly known only to the administration's inner circle. Likely to be the most thorough accounts of America's recent national-security efforts that we shall receive before the November election."
—The Wall Street Journal
With exclusive access to Barack Obama and his inner circle, veteran political reporter Wolffe portrays a historic candidate and his inscrutable character and campaign in stunning detail.
From one of the most respected investigative journalists in Washington, pulling from unparalleled sources, comes this revelatory look at the Obama administration's internal workings, showing the fractures, competing cliques, and, ultimately, the deepest divides within the president's own mind as he has struggled but failed to define national security policy differently than his predecessor.
Is Barack Obama an idealist or a ruthless pragmatist? He vowed to close Guantánamo, put an end to coercive interrogation and military tribunals, and restore American principles of justice, yet in his first term he has backtracked on each of these promises, ramping up the secret war of drone strikes and covert operations. Behind the scenes, wrenching debates between hawks and doves—those who would kill versus those who would capture—have repeatedly tested the very core of the president’s identity.
Top investigative reporter Dan Klaidman has spoken to dozens of sources to piece together a riveting Washington story packed with revelations. As the president’s inner circle debated secret programs, new legal frontiers, and the disjuncture between principles and down-and-dirty politics, Obama vacillated, sometimes lashed out, and spoke in lofty tones while approving a mounting toll of assassinations and kinetic-war operations. Klaidman’s fly-on-the-wall reporting reveals who has his ear, how key national security decisions are really made, and whether or not President Obama has lived up to the promise of candidate Obama. Readers making up their minds about him during the 2012 election year will turn to Kill or Capture to decide.
About the Author
RICHARD WOLFFE is an award-winning journalist and political analyst for MSNBC television, appearing frequently on MSNBCs Countdown with Keith Olbermann, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and Hardball. He covered the entire length of Barack Obamas presidential campaign for Newsweek magazine. Before Newsweek, Wolffe was a senior journalist at the Financial Times, serving as its deputy bureau chief and U.S. diplomatic correspondent. He lives with his wife and their three children in Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters ix
A Note on Sources xiii
The Promise 13
Where the Fuck Is bin Laden? 37
Torture Debates and Murder Boards 65
Escape from Gitmo 93
Kill or Capture 117
How Not to Try a Terrorist 145
The Christmas Gift 173
From Warfare to Lawfare 199
“The President Is Anguished” 225