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The Stranger
Cover of The Stranger
The Stranger
Barack Obama in the White House

Chuck Todd's gripping, fly-on-the-wall account of Barack Obama's tumultuous struggle to succeed in Washington.


Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 partly because he was a Washington outsider. But if he'd come to the White House thinking he could change the political culture, he soon discovered just how difficult it was to swim against an upstream of insiders, partisans, and old guard networks allied to undermine his agenda—-including members of his own party. He would pass some of the most significant legislation in American history, but his own weaknesses torpedoed some of his greatest hopes.
In THE STRANGER, Chuck Todd draws upon his unprecedented inner-circle sources to create a gripping account of Obama's White House tenure, from the early days of drift and helplessness to a final stand against the GOP in which an Obama, at last liberated from his political future, finally triumphs.

Chuck Todd's gripping, fly-on-the-wall account of Barack Obama's tumultuous struggle to succeed in Washington.


Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 partly because he was a Washington outsider. But if he'd come to the White House thinking he could change the political culture, he soon discovered just how difficult it was to swim against an upstream of insiders, partisans, and old guard networks allied to undermine his agenda—-including members of his own party. He would pass some of the most significant legislation in American history, but his own weaknesses torpedoed some of his greatest hopes.
In THE STRANGER, Chuck Todd draws upon his unprecedented inner-circle sources to create a gripping account of Obama's White House tenure, from the early days of drift and helplessness to a final stand against the GOP in which an Obama, at last liberated from his political future, finally triumphs.

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About the Author-
  • Chuck Todd is NBC News Political Director and the moderator of Meet the Press, the flagship Sunday morning public affairs program and longest-running broadcast in television history. Prior to taking the helm of Meet the Press in September 2014, Todd served as NBC News Chief White House Correspondent (2008-2014) as well as host of MSNBC's The Daily Rundown (2010-2014).
    Todd has held the role of Political Director since March 2007, leading all aspects of the news division's political coverage and analysis across every platform. He is also the editor of First Read, NBC's must-read guide to political news and trends in and around Washington, D.C.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 15, 2014
    Todd, the newly minted Meet the Press host and former NBC chief White House correspondent, provides an even-handed, concise, and thorough account of President Obama’s first six years in the Oval Office. Todd frames his perspective with his choice of title—President Obama “came to Washington on the strength of being a stranger to the city and to the political elites, but it hasn’t always served him well.” He covers in great detail the die-hard obstructionism, exemplified in Sen. Mitch McConnell’s proclamation that his priority was to deny Obama a second term, that has characterized the Republican response to the president’s agenda. But Todd doesn’t believe that right-wing extremism lets the president off the hook, and offers example after example of times when his aloof approach to Congress hobbled his legislative initiatives. The book also compares the efficiency of Obama’s electoral campaigns to his subpar management in office. There isn’t a lot here that will be news to readers who follow politics closely—no Bob Woodward–type revelations—but the thoughtful organization of material make this as good a summation of Obama’s successes and failures, and the reasons for them, as anything else out there. Agent: Matthew Carnicelli, Carnicelli Literary Management.

  • Kirkus

    October 15, 2014
    A biography of the sitting president, who, by the author's account, would rather be anywhere but Washington, D.C.-or at least, doing anything but practicing politics as usual.Todd, newly anointed moderator of Meet the Press and a longtime NBC White House correspondent, wonders how so fortunate a campaigner as Barack Obama should "appear to be so bad at practicing the basics of politics in the back rooms of Washington, whether on Capitol Hill, on K Street, or at the Pentagon." A psychobiography may be needed to delve into the many reasons why Obama shuns confrontation, but in practical matters, Todd has it just about right: Obama is used to going it alone, doesn't mind the essential loneliness of being the leader of the free world and really means it when he decries the politics of division. All of these things make Obama, in Todd's overused formulation, a "stranger" in the clubby company town that is Washington. By Todd's reckoning, Obama may be his own worst enemy, given that in so many instances, his "struggles came from his focus on ends to the exclusion of productive means." Make nicer with John Boehner, in other words, and things might happen. Of course, as the author details, it doesn't help that the president's allies have their own agendas and that policy wonks within the White House can't agree on whether the economy is good or bad or in between. Still, the author offers a good explanation for why, positively or negatively, Obama seems so removed from both the fray and his own party, having resigned himself, at least in some measure, to the thought that "the Obama brand and the Democratic Party brand were distinct." Without much hard news that hasn't been written about elsewhere and not the equal of David Remnick's The Bridge (2010) in literary merit. Yet, both timely and pragmatic, this book is sure to attract attention.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    November 1, 2012

    Chief White House correspondent for NBC News, Todd considers Obama's first term, clarifying how he changed the political landscape and what "Obamism" really means. Of interest regardless.

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    November 1, 2014
    While he took the typical path of campaigning as a Washington outsider pledged to change the political status quo, President Obama's continued status as an outsider has cost him greatly during his presidency, asserts NBC White House correspondent Todd. From the early days of his administration, the reformer who came to Washington to change it ended up relying on the same old faces for his new administration, often showing a pragmatism that countered the image of idealism that had won him the election. But his disdain for politics and Republican determination to thwart his every effort soured Obama's relationships throughout Washington, making it harder for him to push his agenda. Todd chronicles the Obama presidency, from dealing with the financial crisis to fighting for health-care reform, from authorizing military aggression in Afghanistan to authorizing the killing of Osama bin Laden, detailing the complex of relationships between the president and his staff, Congress, and the Democratic Party. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, Todd offers an insightful look at Obama's presidency and its legacy.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

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