This book gives us the story of the new Democratic foreign policy elite, mostly obscure Washingtonians raised up by President Obama to be his loyalists, along with a few luminaries to protect him politically. The people at the inner core need to be more widely known because they will hover for decades to tutor future Democratic leaders and hound Republicans. The most trusted of them occupy key slots on the National Security Council staff, while the next tier fill top positions in the Defense and State Departments. They are centrists, not ideologues like the neoconservative Republicans who preceded them. Strikingly, however, they do not cling religiously to the middle ground come what may. Rather, they regard the center as a jumping-off point for complicated and often contradictory positions. In "The Obamians," James Mann tells us who they are, what they think and how they use power.
They could not have a better chronicler than Mann, a longtime journalist at The Los Angeles Times who has written a similar book called "Rise of the Vulcans" about the conservatives and neoconservatives who surrounded President George W. Bush. Like the best reporters, Mann lets his subjects speak for themselves, then checks their fancies against the facts. He has given us a very good first cut at history.