From Publishers Weekly
This breezy, engaging book does not explicitly attempt biography; instead journalist Abramsky dissects the personality of Barack Obama, examining the qualities—focus, self-confidence and curiosity—that fueled his meteoric rise. The book, the fifth in this series, draws on an impressive number of interviews with Obama's friends and associates—though not one with the president himself—and includes illuminating anecdotes from every phase of the president's life. Case studies of the Iowa caucus, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy and the appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state bring the book's arguments into focus. Abramsky does little to conceal his enthusiasm for Obama, comparing him repeatedly to Lincoln and Kennedy and labeling him a potential once-in-a-generation leader. Skeptics are likely to find the author's praise off-putting (he includes dissenting views but generally dismisses them). None of the book's insights are revelatory—for example, Obama's poise and calm under pressure have been fodder for journalists and talking heads since the primaries began—but supporters are likely to enjoy the book's concision and fresh approach to familiar material. (Dec.)
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What is it about Obama that has allowed him, a relative political neophyte and a black man, to achieve the pinnacle of world power? Political journalist Abramsky attempts to answer that question in this psychological profile of a man of polyglot cultural background and great intellect, oratorical skills, and charisma. Abramsky draws on Obama’s writings and speeches, as well as interviews with friends and colleagues, to offer a portrait of an idealistic, ambitious man driven to ever higher achievements. Abramsky focuses on Obama’s role as a community organizer and its impact on him and his ability to bridge differences and reach consensus. Interview subjects recount scenes of ambition tempered by idealism, liberal ideals tempered by pragmatism. The book begins with a look at the inner workings of Obama’s mind, his methods and motivations. Later chapters examine his political persona as affected by his life experiences. Finally, Abramsky takes a broader view of what Obama’s election says, not only because of his race but also because of the contours of his personality, about the U.S. at this point in its history. --Vanessa Bush