The only certainty in the Pakistan-US relationship is crisis, encapsulated in what the US State Department calls the Ruggeiro Rule, named after a veteran diplomat: If anything looks like it is going well with Pakistan, just wait forty-five minutes.

But the book is not only about Pakistan. It covers every major world event in Obama’s presidency — from Iran to Af-Pak to the Arab Spring to China and North Korea. More importantly, Sanger’s extraordinary access to key players in the Obama administration provides scintillating details about internal deliberations on foreign policy and national security that in some cases took place only months ago, giving the book an engaging contemporariness.