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The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III by Peter Baker

My Rating of “The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III” by Peter Baker: 8 / 10

The Man Who Ran Washington was an unexpected book – given its release just before the 2020 Presidential election. James A Baker has both written multiple biographies and others have written about his career. Yet this one is relevant as it wraps up in a bow a holistic and open view on Baker’s life as a politician, family man, statesman and friend.

Over his years in politics, Baker has greatly impacted on the world stage. Whether hostage negotiation, geopolitical tensions, court battles or election outcomes, Baker has left his mark. I’m glad to be reading this particular book as I feel that given his age of 90, there isn’t much more to be written about his impact. This way I get to read end to end about what he has accomplished and changed in that time. For example, I didn’t realise the full extend of Baker’s impact on the 2000 election. He played a pivotal legal role in the re-count of Florida that ultimately pathed the way for George W Bush to win over Gore. That’s not to mention his impact as Secretary of State & Treasury, Chief of Staff for Regan and campaign management.

I felt this was a well written and balanced story about Baker as he traversed the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Regan, Bush administrations. The stories and background research were excellent and entertaining. Baker is certainly an accomplished man and someone not to mess with.

Three key takeaways from the book:

  1. Baker lives by the 5Ps: Prior preparation prevents poor performance. After reading this book I can see him living this mantra in everything that he does.
  2. Baker looks at work in three categories. 1. Easy, 2. Hard work but doable and 3. Impossible. He ignores the impossible, delegates the easy stuff and focuses on the hard work.
  3. After everything that he has experienced and worked for he still voted for Trump (as he did in the 2016 election). If fails to surprise me how locked in people are about their respective party affiliations.

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