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Cody Keenan

Born: Chicago, Illinois
Connection to Illinois: Keenan was born in Chicago. He attended Northwestern University in Evanston and majored in political science.

Biography: Cody Keenan rose from a campaign intern in Chicago to become chief speechwriter at the White House and Barack Obama’s post-presidential collaborator. He's been named the “Springsteen” of the Obama White House, Obama himself calls him “Hemingway,” and British GQ once named Cody one of the “35 Coolest Men under 38 (and a Half)." Cody got his start as a young aide to the legendary senator Edward M. Kennedy before earning a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. 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. He currently resides in New York City.

  • Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER; Starred Reviews - Kirkus, library Journal; Illinois READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2023

Primary Literary Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America
ISBN: 0358651891 OCLC: 1345244407

Mariner Books 2022

From Barack Obama’s chief speechwriter Cody Keenan, a spellbinding account of the ten most dramatic days of the presidency, when a hate-fueled massacre and looming 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. 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.”