“The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III,” by Peter Baker (no relations to James Baker) and Susan Glassner is an extraordinary, comprehensive, well-written biography about arguably the most accomplished, successful, Secretary of State in the post World War 2 era. I know people will argue that it was Henry Kissinger (and Kissinger would have no argument with that) but when you start adding the plus and minuses that each man’s career produced I give the nod to Mr. Baker.

What is most amazing about Mr. Baker’s career in politics is that he had little to no interest in politics until his friend President George H.W. Bush sort of nudge him into the President Ford’s reelection campaign, which would forever have the ghost of Watergate and Nixon hanging over it. He was already in his forties at the time, and yet he managed to make Ford’s race against President Carter a lot closer than anyone would have imagined. 

He then went on to run President Bush’s unsuccessful campaign against President Reagan in 1980, and yet was influential in President Reagan picking Mr. Bush as Vice President. Reagan was so impressed with Baker, that he let Mr. Baker run his hugely successful Presidential campaign from the end of the convention to the election. 

President Reagan then picked Mr. Baker as his Chief of Staff, and many to this very day will say that he might have been the best Chief of Staff in the post World War 2 era. He was often referred to by outsiders as the real President, behind Reagan’s major successes.

In President Reagan’s second term, burned out as Chief of Staff, he became Reagan’s Secretary of the Treasury and was confirmed by the Senate 96-0, and was amazingly successful.

In 1988, he ran President Bush’s campaign, which was hugely successful and became President Bush’s Secretary of State and would manage the unification of Germany, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Middle East, and the uniting of world leaders against Saddam Hussian’s invasion of Kuwait in the first Iraqi War. The dexterity with which he handled all this is a an accomplishment of such beauty and patience that to me52230676 it is mind boggling.

This biography is a must read for anyone seriously interested in world affairs, politics and government. It is an unbiased look at a great but flawed diplomat, and a very sad commentary of how very low we have come from the time of James A. Baker III and President George H.W. Bush in the span of 24 years, and especially in the second decade of the 21st century.

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