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Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

Grace: An Evening with Speechwriter Cody Keenan

The Book Stall (811 Elm Street in Winnetka) is excited to host speechwriter and author, Cody Keenan, for an in-store conversation with Josh Earnest about his new book, Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America on Tuesday, November 1 at 6:30 pm. From President Obama’s chief speechwriter comes a spellbinding account of ten days of the presidency, when a racist massacre and two impending Supreme Court decisions put the character of our country on the line, and a president’s words could bring the nation together or tear it apart. This event is free, registration is required. To register, please sign up HERE.

More About the Book: Grace is the inside story of the most exhilarating and emotional stretch of the Obama presidency, beginning on June 17, 2015, when a white supremacist murdered nine Black worshippers in a Charleston, South Carolina church. In the days that followed, America went through a profound reckoning with guns, race, and the legacy of the Confederate flag. At the same time, two consequential Supreme Court decisions loomed that would decide the fate of millions: the right to health care and the right to marriage equality.

Through it all, President Obama and his chief speechwriter guided the nation by composing a series of high-stakes speeches to meet a series of extraordinary developments. Through behind-the-scenes moments of the president’s late-night writing sessions in the First Family’s residence, Keenan takes us inside the craft of speechwriting at the highest level for the most demanding of bosses, the relentlessly poetic and perfectionist, Barack Obama. Grace is the most intimate writing that exists on the rhetorical tightrope our first Black president had to walk, culminating with an unforgettable high point: Obama stunning everybody by taking a deep breath and leading the country in a chorus of “Amazing Grace.”

Ben Rhodes, author of The World as It Is, says, “Grace is an exuberant love letter to public service and a beautifully written record of how a President and his speechwriter faced down the darkest demons of American identity to offer a better, truer story of who we can be. At a time when cynicism and apathy endanger democracy, Cody Keenan lets us all experience how it felt to be in the room and reminds us of the things that are worth fighting for.”

More About the Author: Cody Keenan has been a speechwriter for Barack Obama since 2007, rising from a campaign intern in Chicago to become chief speechwriter at the White House. He is a sought-after expert on politics and current affairs, has appeared on most major cable and broadcast networks, and has spoken at colleges and universities, journalism-related organizations, and major corporations and foundations nationwide. He teaches a wildly popular course on political speechwriting at Northwestern, was chosen by the 2020 graduating class to deliver its “Last Lecture,” and delivered the commencement address in 2018.

More About our Conversation Partner: Josh Earnest was selected by President Obama to assume the role of White House Press Secretary in 2014. He quickly distinguished himself as a tactful and charismatic White House ambassador earning the respect of Washington insiders in both parties. Whether managing a legislative setback, celebrating a diplomatic breakthrough, or reacting to a terror attack, Earnest earned a reputation for uncommon poise under an intense spotlight where there is no margin for error. Earnest first joined Obama’s team in March 2007, helping steer the President to an historic victory in the Iowa caucuses that catapulted him to the White House. His two-decade career in politics has taken him from Capitol Hill to some of the most competitive races in the country. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, he is currently Chief Communications Officer for United Airlines.



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