Cody Keenan at Harvard Book Store


President Obama and Ten Days
in the Battle for America

in conversation with DEVAL PATRICK


October 5, 2022
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes CODY KEENAN, Barack Obama’s chief speechwriter, for a discussion of his new book, Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America. He will be joined in conversation by DEVAL PATRICK, former Governor of Massachusetts.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to be back to in-person programming. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:

  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.

About Grace

A white supremacist shooting and an astonishing act of forgiveness. A national reckoning with race and the Confederate flag. The fate of marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act. Grace is the propulsive story of ten days in June 2015, when Obama and his chief speechwriter Cody Keenan composed a series of high-stakes speeches to meet a succession of stunning developments.

Through behind-the-scenes moments—from Obama’s suggestion that Keenan pour a drink, listen to some Miles Davis, and “find the silences,” to 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 also delivers a fascinating portrait of White House insiders like Ben Rhodes, Valerie Jarrett, Jen Psaki, and the speechwriting team responsible for pulling it all off during a furious, historic stretch of the Obama presidency—including a gifted fact-checker who took Keenan’s rhetoric to task before taking his hand in marriage. 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.”

Praise for Grace

Grace is a beautifully written, gripping tale of a monumental week in the life of America. As a political memoir, it is a masterpiece, rendering the White House’s characters—including President Barack Obama—in deeply human terms, with unforgettable behind-the-scenes accounts of how history was made. But in Grace, Cody Keenan does something even deeper by opening up the chilling rise of white supremacism, delving into the horrific costs of racial injustice in America, and showing how—with courage, decency, and a rich, expansive form of patriotism—our better angels can prevail.” —Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Problem from Hell and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

"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.” —Ben Rhodes, author of The World As It Is

“Cody Keenan's Grace, like the speeches he wrote with President Obama, is a compelling force. People of faith will know the "grace" of which Cody and Obama speak; political and history buffs will appreciate the look inside these tragic, triumphant moments; and all Americans will be moved to tears of sorrow and joy through Cody’s retelling. Grace is what's needed in our country right now, and Keenan's Grace is likewise a needed, essential read." —Joshua DuBois, spiritual advisor to President Obama and author of The President’s Devotional

Cody Keenan
Cody Keenan

Cody Keenan

Born and raised in Chicago, Cody Keenan rose from a campaign intern in his hometown to become chief speechwriter at the White House and Barack Obama’s post-presidential collaborator. A sought-after expert on politics, messaging, and current affairs, he is now a partner at leading speechwriting firm Fenway Strategies and teaches a popular course on political speechwriting to undergraduates at his alma mater Northwestern University. Cody lives in New York City with his wife Kristen and their baby daughter Grace.

Deval Patrick
Deval Patrick

Deval Patrick

Deval Patrick is Co-Director of the Center for Public Leadership and a professor of practice at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is also a Senior Advisor to Bain Capital and co-chair of American Bridge 21st Century Foundation. He is the founder and, from April 2015 to December 2019, was Managing Partner of Bain Capital Double Impact. From January 2007 to January 2015, he served as Governor of Massachusetts. He has been a senior executive in two Fortune 50 companies, a partner in two Boston law firms, and by appointment of President Bill Clinton, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the United States Justice Department. He is a Rockefeller Fellow, a Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, and the author of two books.He earned his AB cum laude from Harvard College and his JD from Harvard Law School.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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