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Book cover of 'Work Hard, Study...and Keep Out of Politics!': Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life

'Work Hard, Study...and Keep Out of Politics!': Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life

by James A. Baker

Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Pages: 496
Paperback
ISBN: 9780810124899






Available to Buy

Overview of 'Work Hard, Study...and Keep Out of Politics!': Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life

White House chief of staff twice over, former secretary of state, past secretary of the treasury, and campaign leader for three different candidates in five successful campaigns—few people have lived and breathed politics as deeply or for as long as James Baker. Now, with candor, down-home Texas storytelling, and more than a few surprises, Baker opens up about his thirty-five years behind the scenes.

            Beginning in 1975 with the Ford administration, in a job procured for him by friend and tennis partner George H. W. Bush, Baker was in the thick of American politics. He recounts the inside story of Ford’s rejection of Reagan as a running mate in 1976 with the same insight he has into Reagan’s rejection of Ford four years later. When the White House was plunged into turmoil after the Reagan assassination attempt, he was there, and his stories take readers deeper into those chaotic days. Baker was on hand for the George H. W. Bush campaign’s battle over running mate Dan Quayle and, more recently, he was again on the front row as George W. Bush fought it out in Florida. Spellbinding and frank, his stories are the ones between the lines of our history books.

In this new edition, Baker also responds for the first time in print to the George W. Bush administration’s reaction to the Iraq Study Group Report, written with his input.  Baker is very qualified to comment on the political operation of the current administration, and his new writing for this paperback brings the full weight of his experience to bear.

Synopsis of 'Work Hard, Study...and Keep Out of Politics!': Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life

White House chief of staff twice over, former secretary of state, past secretary of the treasury, and campaign leader for three different candidates in five successful campaigns—few people have lived and breathed politics as deeply or for as long as James Baker. Now, with candor, down-home Texas storytelling, and more than a few surprises, Baker opens up about his thirty-five years behind the scenes.

            Beginning in 1975 with the Ford administration, in a job procured for him by friend and tennis partner George H. W. Bush, Baker was in the thick of American politics. He recounts the inside story of Ford’s rejection of Reagan as a running mate in 1976 with the same insight he has into Reagan’s rejection of Ford four years later. When the White House was plunged into turmoil after the Reagan assassination attempt, he was there, and his stories take readers deeper into those chaotic days. Baker was on hand for the George H. W. Bush campaign’s battle over running mate Dan Quayle and, more recently, he was again on the front row as George W. Bush fought it out in Florida. Spellbinding and frank, his stories are the ones between the lines of our history books.

In this new edition, Baker also responds for the first time in print to the George W. Bush administration’s reaction to the Iraq Study Group Report, written with his input.  Baker is very qualified to comment on the political operation of the current administration, and his new writing for this paperback brings the full weight of his experience to bear.

The New York Times - Jacob Heilbrunn

Anyone looking for yet another Republican apostate to denounce Bush should look elsewhere. But there's no need to worry: the stiletto once wielded so deftly by Baker in Washington has not gone dull. Baker, who has already discussed the end of the cold war in an earlier book called The Politics of Diplomacy, here offers a more personal account that implicitly contrasts the past with the present, and is the more telling for its restraint. He focuses on his years as a political operative and official in the Ford, Reagan and Bush 1 administrations to draw lessons about the importance of planning ahead in running political campaigns and governments. Though his memoir may at some points envelop the Reagan years in a nostalgic haze, it provides an extraordinarily illuminating account of the decades-old Republican feud between old-money power brokers and true believers. Ultimately, it shows how he successfully kept the right in check—and what happens when someone doesn't.

About the Author, James A. Baker

James A. Baker, III served as secretary of state and chief of staff to George H. W. Bush, chief of staff and secretary of the treasury to Ronald Reagan, and under-secretary of commerce to Gerald Ford. Since March 2006, he has cochaired the Iraq Study Group.  Baker is also the author of The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War and Peace, 1898–1992 and a 1991 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He lives in Houston, Texas.

 

Steve Fiffer is the author, coauthor, or editor of fourteen books, including Tyrannosaurus Sue. In 2001, he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in Evanston, IL.

 

 

Reviews of 'Work Hard, Study...and Keep Out of Politics!': Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life

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Editorials

From the Publisher

"The stiletto once wielded so deftly by Baker in Washington has not gone dull.  Baker . . .  here offers a more personal account that implicitly contrasts the past with the present, and is the more telling for its restraint."--Jacob Heilbrunn, The New York Times

Jacob Heilbrunn

Anyone looking for yet another Republican apostate to denounce Bush should look elsewhere. But there's no need to worry: the stiletto once wielded so deftly by Baker in Washington has not gone dull. Baker, who has already discussed the end of the cold war in an earlier book called The Politics of Diplomacy, here offers a more personal account that implicitly contrasts the past with the present, and is the more telling for its restraint. He focuses on his years as a political operative and official in the Ford, Reagan and Bush 1 administrations to draw lessons about the importance of planning ahead in running political campaigns and governments. Though his memoir may at some points envelop the Reagan years in a nostalgic haze, it provides an extraordinarily illuminating account of the decades-old Republican feud between old-money power brokers and true believers. Ultimately, it shows how he successfully kept the right in check—and what happens when someone doesn't.
—The New York Times

Publishers Weekly

Baker's grandfather, a prominent Houston lawyer, told his grandson to avoid becoming a politician hence the title of this memoir. Baker intended to follow that advice, but, at age 40, he switched course after his wife died of cancer, leaving behind four sons. George Herbert Walker Bush persuaded the widower to change parties and work on Bush's Republican Party senatorial campaign to take his mind off his grief. Eventually, Baker played political and policymaking roles in the presidential administrations of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, with nearly four years as Bush's secretary of state, including during the first Gulf war. More sweeping and less formal than Baker's 1995 memoir of his international adventures, The Politics of Diplomacy, this is also haphazardly organized despite its chronological approach. Baker seems to idolize all three presidents he served directly, though he alludes to character flaws and questionable decisions. His defense of the status quo is likely to please loyal Republicans, annoy loyal Democrats and make independents wonder. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal

Baker, an alumnus of three Republican presidential administrations (Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush) and advisor to five consecutive presidential campaigns, has written a readable personal and political memoir. While he offers insights into his childhood, his early life as a lawyer, and the death of his first wife from cancer in 1970, the heart of his book, titled after advice from his grandfather, is made up of insider observations gleaned from the many political figures with whom he worked. Delving into such events as the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981 and presidential campaigns and debates, Baker almost seems to be from a bygone era: political foes could still be friends outside of politics. While disagreeing with Jimmy Carter, who defeated Ford in the 1976 presidential election, Baker later cochaired the Commission on Federal Election Reform with him in 2005. Baker touches on his post-White House work, including helping George W. Bush with the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida. While definitely written from a Republican loyalist point of view and with more than a few comments about God and faith, Baker's book will interest political junkies on both sides of the aisle and remind them that party politics do not require disrespect between opponents. Suitable for public and academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/06.] Leigh Mihlrad, Albert Einstein Coll. of Medicine of Yeshiva Univ., Bronx, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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