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Yes We Can: Barack Obama's History-Making Presidential Campaign Hardcover – December 8, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. The cover graphics imply a brash book, but the contents have nuance and subtle grace. The book bills Tufankjian only as the photographer—and her photographs are wonderful. With as many character shots of spectators as of the man himself, with framing and depth of field choices that are eloquent without being pretentious, she captures mood and atmosphere with seeming ease. But it is her brief autobiographical text at the start of each chronological section that additionally sets the book apart, allowing the reader to feel in the midst of the press corps as it followed Obama around the country. A tribute not only to Obama, with some pull quotes from his speeches, but to Tufankjian's skills with her Nikon.—MH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Author

I still can't believe it. It hasn't sunk in that Barack Obama is now the President-Elect of the United States. I can't believe that the long-shot candidate I started following almost two years ago actually won. I can't believe the American people elected a man named Barack Obama. I can't believe that the guy who spent two years making faces into my camera is going to be the leader of the free world.

And to think, the first time I photographed Barack Obama, I didn't want to go. I was interested in him, but I had plans that weekend that did not involve driving five hours to New Hampshire to photograph what I assumed would be a deadly dull event.

I had been right about a few things. The event was in a building that was dark, cavernous, and impossible to find. I showed up late and in a panic. Looking around at the space, I wondered why I had even bothered.

But when Obama walked into the room, my concerns became irrelevant. The crowd was transfixed. Hell, some of the other news photographers were transfixed. And this was New Hampshire! New Hampshire photographers are not impressed by politicians. Ever. Immediately after the event ended, even before filing my pictures, I called Kelly and told her that I was going to cover the Obama presidential campaign. I did not offer her a choice. The fact that he wasn't technically running yet was immaterial. I knew that this was going to be important, and I wanted to be there.

For the next twenty-three months, I followed Obama from event to event, only heading home for quick breaks to meet with editors and remind my boyfriend what I looked like. I followed Obama into coffee shops and diners, auto manufacturing plants and bowling alleys. I followed him in a rental car, and I flew in his charter jet. I photographed him wooing potential voters in expensive houses and on poverty-stricken Indian reservations. I covered small events where I was the only photographer present, and I covered massive rallies with more than 75,000 people.

Even as the campaign stretched from one year to two, and as I marked my third winter As a friend said on election night, we are now living in a different world than the one we woke up in. I will be forever grateful that I had the opportunity to witness this moment in history.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: powerHouse Books (December 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576875040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576875049
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.9 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #821,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Although best known for her work documenting the Barack Obama campaigns, Armenian-American photographer Scout Tufankjian has spent the bulk of her career working in the Middle East, including four years working in the Gaza Strip and extensive time in Egypt documenting the Egyptian Revolution and its aftermath.

Her book on the 2007-2008 Obama campaign, Yes We Can: Barack Obama's History-Making Presidential Campaign was published in December of 2008 and was a New York Times and LA Times bestseller, selling out its first run of 55,000 copies a month before its release date.

In the summer of 2012, she returned to the campaign trail as a photographer for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. While working for Obama for America, an image that she took of the President and the First Lady hugging in Iowa became the most retweeted and the most liked photograph in Facebook's history.

Her new book, There is Only the Earth: Images from the Armenian Diaspora Project, is a true labor of love and the culmination of six years spent documenting Armenian communities in over 20 different countries. It was partially funded by a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign and will be released in April of 2015. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and their dog, Noushig the Shounig. More of her work can be seen at www.scouttufankjian.com.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mnah Mnah on December 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is the best commemorative book for the election I've seen so far. The photographer has an unusual eye, and most of her images are not the sort of thing that was being regularly printed in newspapers and magazines during the campaign. Most of the photos are of press events or rallies, and there's not much from behind the scene (which is a shame). Many of the best photos are of ordinary supporters who are completely overwhelmed by meeting/seeing him. I've left this on my coffee table, and most visitors are drawn to it right away. Recommended.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. F. Schenkkan on December 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
We don't learn how she got her laundry done, but it's a wonderful ride through Scout Tufankjian's Yes We Can. Her writing moves along and is specific: "Every single event [in New Hampshire] was wildly overcrowded, and on one occasion the fire marshal wouldn't even let the traveling press in." And in Berlin, "I am young enough that it was a shock to see Europeans waving American flags." As for the photos, has anyone captured Michelle Obama's hope for her husband as well as in the picture on pages 24 and 25, in Waterloo, Iowa? This is Pulitizer stuff. Another favorite is of two little girls, one holding an Obama doll, as they sit and whisper together at an event in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. When people come into our Austin house and pick this book up, they do not put it down. Someone always grabs it away.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Rebecca Onion on December 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
At the tail end of a long presidential campaign, it's easy to become inured to the power of the image of the "ordinary voter." So it's all the more impressive that this book manages to depict the people who came to watch Barack Obama speak in ways that do honor to their commitment and their emotion. There are some dreamily intimate shots of Obama himself, including one sweet pic co-starring an ice-cream cone, but for my money, the best pictures in the book are the shots of military families, African-American schoolchildren, and Tufankjian's fellow photographers.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Harris on December 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I just received my shipment of this book and immediately began to review it. I ended up reading the book cover to cover. It has a good balance between pictures and narrative portions. It was great to see the hope, optimism, and pride captured in the faces of the people photographed at the rallies, restaurants, etc. Viewing the pictures reminded me of the events and feelings that I experienced over the past two years of the campaign. One thing --I would have liked to see a picture of the Obama family in Chicago on the stage after the victory included. This is a book to savor and to take time studying each photo. The photographs were detailed and spoke volumes. I am glad that I had the foresight to purchase (in advance)enough books to give as gifts to my children and grandchildren. I am certain that this book will "fly" off the shelves once the word gets out. It is a wonderful keepstake. Thank you Scout for your work in recording this historical time in American history. It is definitely work to be proud of.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephane Suveg on December 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A tourner les pages de "Yes we can", on entend la chanson du même nom "Yes we can ... to justice and equality ...», et on voit la campagne de Barack Obama se transformer : des petites assemblées de l'Iowa à la convention de Denver et enfin au Grant Park. Scout Tufankjian éclaire la rencontre entre un homme et une nation, le mouvement qui se cristallise autour de Barack Obama et en fait son incarnation. Un moment ou les Etats-Unis sont, pour la première fois depuis longtemps, un exemple. Et un grand travail de photojournalisme.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Casley on January 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book so very much. the pictures were amazing. it was like watching history in the making. i hope to keep this book in my family for future generations. as a black american, i was overwhelmed with emotion. i bought a copy for my 75 year old cousin too!

i recommend this book for all americans who sought "CHANGE"!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jean E. Pouliot on January 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"Yes We Can" brings back the excitement and sense of hope and history of Barack Obama's first presidential bid in 2008. Scout Tufankjian's photographs capture the joy of the nation and the cool confidence of the candidate - from the tiny crowd by the lake in Sunapee, NH to the cheering throng that greeted his election in November. Whether caught at play - holding an ice cream cone or a basketball, or mugging with the Heisman Trophy; or caught in moments of serious purpose - acknowledging a crowd at a speech, posing with a young Marine or a retired vet - Obama's sense of destiny and accessibility are caught on film time and time again.

In 2013, after suffering through his difficult first term and the slog of reigniting the economy and righting the health care systems, it's a relief to look back at a time when Obama was a beacon of hope unalloyed by partisan battles and slower-than-expected progress.

"Yes We Can" is a beautiful keepsake of a time when America became, for a few moments, bigger than itself.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sun Goddess on January 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was so excited by Scout's interview on the Charlie Rose program I immediately knew this book was going to be part of my growing Obama Historical Collection. My exctied trip to the bookstore left me very disappointed. The photographs were absolutely incredible. I was inspired all over again as I viewed the campaign from the very beginning.

However, I was so disappointed with the publishing/editing of the photos.
So many of them were poorly placed in the book by the publisher. I could not truly appreciate the wonderful work done by Scout because of the placement of the pictures. The large photos were spread between 2 pages and really couldn't be enjoyed.

I desperately wanted this book, but couldn't bring myself to buy it.
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