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THE SITUATION ROOM by George Stephanopoulos


The Inside Story of Presidents in Crisis

by George Stephanopoulos with Lisa Dickey

Pub Date: May 14th, 2024
ISBN: 9781538740767
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

A behind-the-scenes look inside the White House Situation Room.

Stephanopoulos, co-host of Good Morning America and author of All Too Human, served as Bill Clinton’s senior adviser for policy and strategy. His position and history as a Washington, D.C., insider allows him to examine a series of crises through the story of the Situation Room, located in the subterranean bowels of the White House complex. The author explains that the room was set up in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, which John F. Kennedy blamed on poor advice. The idea was to centralize information collection and give the president a dedicated space for decision-making, with a permanent staff of geopolitical experts. Stephanopoulos tracks events ranging from the defeat in Vietnam, to the collapse of the Soviet Union, to 9/11, examining the management styles of the presidents and other key figures and punctuating the story with interviews wherever possible. A peculiar element is that, despite its importance, for a long time, the place itself was unimpressive, much like a dull corporate meeting room. New communication equipment and technology were gradually added, and by the time of the operation to eliminate Osama bin Laden, the president could watch events unfold in real time. In fact, the problems of the current era are information overload and the temptation to micromanage. In early 2023, the room was remodeled into “a digitally advanced, ergonomically designed, smartly configured complex,” and it is now known as the WHSR (pronounced “whizzer”). This transformation was inevitable and necessary, although the author clearly feels a twinge of nostalgia. Recounting a history that might have been lost, Stephanopoulos presents an interesting package for political aficionados as well as general readers.

An effective blend of political analysis and personal stories, tied together at the epicenter of crisis management.