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The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress Hardcover – Bargain Price

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company; 1 edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080271739X
  • ASIN: B005DI9HEO
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,702,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Barack Obama was heralded as the next Lincoln before he was even elected. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize without actually having achieved peace anywhere (even in places such as Afghanistan, where peace would be arguably under his control). Cobb has written a lyrical ode to Obama's symbolism: the first black president; the "hip" biracial outsider; the logical successor to Martin Luther King, Jr. Ironically, the book and the President both lack results. Cobb writes beautifully, but he often gets lost in the Obama myth. He's at his most compelling when he leaves the poetry for the pulpit and lets the professor in him take charge (noting, for instance, Obama's astute political calculations, like cutting ties with Jeremiah Wright). Yet his analysis is anything but erudite; Cobb often references pop culture. "In 2002," he recalls, "reporters asked Denzel Washington what it meant for three African Americans to be in contention for the Academy Award. He replied, 'It means that three African Americans are in contention for the Academy Award.' I am tempted to answer the question about the meaning of the black presidency with the same terms." While more hope than substance, Cobb's book is still an eloquent meditation on the meaning of the Obama presidency, all 18 months of it.
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Clear, concise writing, a conversational tone, and cogent arguments make this a compelling read, particularly for those with an interest in Obama's presidential campaign and election, but also for students of politics, history, and the Civil Rights Movement." --Library Journal

"Cobb is especially good on the contrast between Obama and Jesse Jackson, whose celebrated work had opened many doors for Obama, but who now failed to inspire most young African-Americans. Obama embodies the face--multiracial and cosmopolitan--of the next generation, and his 'ultimate significance may be less as a president than as a harbinger of what comes after his presidency.' A rich, provocative meditation on the importance of Obama's election." --Kirkus Reviews

"William Jelani Cobb has written a smart and observant reminder of the candidacy and election of President Barack Obama....This little book is packed with common sense observations that are given weight and meaning through Professor Cobb's academic and historical insight."--Melissa Harris-Lacewell, associate professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University

"Barack Obama's presidential campaign shone an incisive light on the nation's attitudes about race and on the roots of black political empowerment. William Jelani Cobb provides a wealth of historical background and an eloquent appraisal of the present, as he narrates how a grassroots movement and a cadre of young people (the Joshua generation) successfully fought the established political machine for the hearts and ballots of the black community. An insightful and thought-provoking book." --Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP

"William Jelani Cobb's The Substance of Hope is a deft analysis of many vectors brought to bear on the unexpected rise of Barack Obama. With a specific eye towards the overlap between race and age, Cobb deconstructs the politics of the civil rights generation in the Obama age with nuance and honesty. A provocative book, from a provocative mind."--Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of The Beautiful Struggle

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lasana O. Hotep on June 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Jelani Cobb has written a timely and provocative account of the myriad of reactions surrounding the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. In his clever style using wit and metaphor, Cobb places many of the debates, dilemmas and controversies into historical and social context. The book provides details and subtext behind such sensationalized stories as the events surrounding the sermons of Jeremiah Wright, the threatening statements made by Jesse Jackson and rise of the "Joshua Generation" to transform the headlines from the Barack Obama reality show to into signs of the sift from the civil rights era to the current generation.

I highly recommend this book for several reasons.

- Cobb's is a great storyteller (even though this is non-fiction)
- It contextualizes many of the old and current debates raging about the first Black president in US History
- It challenges the reader to reexamine her/his position on many contemporary issues and come face to face with the realities of the 21st Century

In short, Substance of Hope is a key piece to approaching puzzling election of the 44th president of the United States of America.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Anson Asaka on July 8, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an excellent, thought provoking and insightful book. The book provides a thorough historical analysis comparing Barack Obama to Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jackie Robinson and others. William Jelani Cobb discusses some civil rights leaders' paradoxical failure to support Barack Obama's candidacy. Cobb reflects on the meaning of the election of the first African American president and provides a sobering reminder that America is not a post-racial or post-partisan society. The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Substance of Hope is an enlightening book on Barack Obama's campaign and election as it relates to race and politics. Through interviews and his experiences on the Obama campaign trail, William Jelani Cobb offers a candid assessment of, among other things: the events surrounding the Reverend Jeremiah Wright situation, the role of Reverend Jesse Jackson plus various black clergy and civil rights leaders, and the comparisons between Obama and FDR and Lincoln.

Cobb deftly tackles the notion that the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President signifies the end of racism and that we now live in a post-racial society. "He is a president, not an antidote." (p.174). Indeed, it is a paradox of progress.
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