After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made

Random. Jun. 2021. 384p. ISBN 9781984856050. $28. POL SCI
Rhodes (an Obama speechwriter and former White House NSC advisor), author of The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House, gives his impressions of the post-9/11 influence of the United States through its embrace of social media as well as the nation’s dive into nationalism and authoritarianism. His lucidly written book, aimed at non-specialists, has as its central theme that the United States is not the exceptional country it claims to be. Rhodes traveled extensively as an international policy adviser, and later as an NGO employee, and recounts many of his on-the-street conversations with people in Myanmar, Hungary, Russia, and China. He describes the legacy of the Trump administration as increased division, disinformation, and disorientation. As part of his background story, Rhodes details the cultural impacts of his Texan Christian father and New York Jewish mother. Readers might wish that he disclosed more details about how he rose to the heights of his public career at such a young age.
VERDICT A useful, albeit partisan, view of the U.S. political scene from one of its lesser-known participants. Similar, but not identical reflections are offered in Samantha Power’s The Education of an Idealist, Susan Rice’s Tough Love, and, conversely, Karl Rove’s Courage and Consequence.
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