The World As It by Ben Rhodes was a very emotional read for me for a number of reasons. I’m sure part of the reason is the current period of time that we are living through. Watching the constant scandal unfold day after day makes me yearn for a past that was not that long ago. I decided to pick up this book after the 2018 midterm election.
I spent two weeks leading up to the election full of anxiety about the future of the United States and society in general. I stayed up all night on election day watching the results roll in. I felt a sense of relief after the House was securely in the opposing party’s hands. After about an hour of sleep I decided to take a break from social media, my blog and the news in general. Reading will help me rest, recover and refocus, I thought to myself. I don’t know if this book was the right one to pick if rest and recovery was my goal, but I’m so glad that I read it.
It is beautifully written. He has a way of painting vivid pictures in your mind while simultaneously evoking real emotion as you read. He takes you on his personal journey starting with his feelings about 9/11 and ending with his last ride on Air Force One. He describes the first time he meets Barack Obama, the workhorse companionship of the campaign, the elation after Presidential victory, the enormous sense of responsibility he felt in the Oval Office, the sparring with journalists, the hell he felt as he was vilified by right wing media, the complications of foreign policy and the pressure of speech writing for the most influential man on the planet.
Throughout the book he describes little conversations he had with Obama that are really endearing. He somehow captures the human side of governing which is what made it so hard to put down. He is able to capture the sadness, anxiety and disappointment that the staff felt after the results of the 2016 election. He describes his own emotions in such a compelling way that it brought me to tears as I thought about that period of time. It was such a good read.
Although the last chapter is really sad he ends on an inspirational note. He writes, “I was a man, no longer young, who – in the zigzag of history – still believe in the truth within the stories of people around the world, a truth that compels me to see the world as it is, and to believe in the world as it ought to be.” It’s worth the time if you have it.