Grace & The West Wing and Beyond
From Barack Obama’s chief speechwriter Cody Keenan, a spellbinding account of the ten most dramatic days of the presidency, when a hate-fueled massacre and looming Supreme Court decisions put the character of our country on the line, and a president’s words could bring the nation together or tear it apart.
A white supremacist shooting and an astonishing act of forgiveness. A national reckoning with race and the Confederate flag. The fate of marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act. GRACE is the propulsive story of ten days in June 2015, when Obama and his chief speechwriter Cody Keenan composed a series of high-stakes speeches to meet a succession of stunning developments.
Through behind-the-scenes moments—from Obama’s suggestion that Keenan pour a drink, listen to some Miles Davis, and “find the silences,” to the president’s late-night writing sessions in the First Family’s residence—Keenan takes us inside the craft of speechwriting at the highest level for the most demanding of bosses, the relentlessly poetic and perfectionist Barack Obama. GRACE also delivers a fascinating portrait of White House insiders like Ben Rhodes, Valerie Jarrett, Jen Psaki, and the speechwriting team responsible for pulling it all off during a furious, historic stretch of the Obama presidency—including a gifted fact-checker who relentlessly took Keenan’s rhetoric to task before taking his hand in marriage. GRACE is the most intimate writing that exists on the rhetorical tightrope our first Black president had to walk, culminating with an unforgettable high point: Obama stunning everybody by taking a deep breath and leading the country in a chorus of “Amazing Grace.”
About The West Wing and Beyond:
Go behind the scenes of the West Wing—and into the Oval Office, the Situation Room, aboard Air Force One, and beyond—in intimate detail with #1 bestselling author and presidential photographer Pete Souza
Pete Souza has spent more time in the Oval Office than any person in history, former two-term Presidents excluded. During the Obama administration alone, Souza estimates that he was "inside the presidential bubble" for more than 25,000 hours, with a unique view on how democracy actually works.
In The West Wing and Beyond, Souza brings the inner sanctum of the American Presidency to life and goes behind the scenes to share never-before-seen photographs and stories of life in the White House and traveling with the President across the country and around the world.
Focusing on the people, processes, and traditions that define our nation's highest office, this book will put you inside the Presidency, looking out–and deliver a new view of the Secret Service, the seriousness of the Situation Room, and even the waste-paper basketball games played in rare moments of downtime outside the Oval.
Told with Pete's distinctive voice and brimming with gorgeous photography, The West Wing and Beyond offers a one-of-a-kind look into the daily intrigues and fascinating minutiae that make up the foundation of the American Presidency. It is an essential book for every American citizen.
Cody Keenan rose from a campaign intern in Chicago to become chief speechwriter at the White House and Barack Obama’s post-presidential collaborator. A sought-after expert on politics, messaging, and current affairs, he is a partner at leading speechwriting firm Fenway Strategies and teaches a popular course on political speechwriting at his alma mater Northwestern University. He lives in New York City with his wife Kristen and their daughter Gracie.
Pete Souza was the Chief Official White House Photographer for the entire tenure of the presidency of Barack Obama. He is the author of several books, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Obama: An Intimate Portrait and Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents. His next book, The West Wing and Beyond: What I Saw Inside the Presidency, will be published in September 2022. A photojournalist since the late 1970s, Souza was also an official White House photographer during the Reagan administration, a freelance photographer for Life and National Geographic, and the Washington-based national photographer for the Chicago Tribune. A documentary about his work in the White House, The Way I See It, was nominated for an Emmy, and its premiere was the highest-rated non-news, non-live program in MSNBC history. He is a professor emeritus at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication. In 2021, Souza was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame.