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¡OBÁMANOS!: The Birth of a New Political Era Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 29, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A staff writer and editor at the New Yorker, Hertzberg (Politics) paints a triptych of the 2008 presidential campaign, opening with The Wreckage, mostly Bush's second term (September 10, 2004–June 29, 2007) through The Marathon of the primaries (August 10, 2007–June 5, 2008), and closing with The Sprint to the presidency (June 13, 2008–November 7, 2008). Fearlessly liberal and passionately partisan (I've followed the Obama phenomenon with the tracks of my tears), Hertzberg's book is a real-time, contemporaneous record of the last days of the Bush administration and its crimes and misdemeanors that have inflicted unprecedented disgrace on our country's moral and political standing as well as a blow-by blow of the campaign, with juicy analysis of the diversionary role played by political pundits. Readers similarly enraptured with the president's political magic will bask in the book's informative and witty discussion; those who don't share the author's Obamaphilia might find this an effusive and imbalanced rehashing of recent history. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

The New York Times Book Review - Jonathan Freedland
In book form, without the cooling effect of The New Yorker's trademark typeface or the ironic detachment provided by an adjacent line drawing or two, Hertzberg's fury is naked to the eye. And yet he is no finger-jabber leftist, hectoring his reader in the manner of so many radicals in print. The writing is too good for that. Hertzberg has a novelist's control of metaphor and a comedian's gift for the one-liner...But it is not only Hertzberg's wit that prevents him from being a left wingnut. He may stake out radical positions...but he is, more often, a spokesman for those unsung soldiers in the progressive army: the brokers of the messy compromise.

"A collection of astute articles penned as longtime New Yorker writer Hertzberg (Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966-2004, 2004, etc.) watched Barack Obama's historic presidential campaign. It was the longest, most expensive and, arguably, the most important presidential election in American history, one that "was as severe a test of stamina and character as any our fundamentally sadistic policy system has ever imposed on a set of candidates." Veteran political analyst Hertzberg, who also served as Jimmy Carter's speechwriter, reveled in every detail. His collection of short pieces, dated from September 2004 (the Democratic National Convention) to November 2008 (the election), provide a real- time synthesis of everything from the early debates to the veracity of the blogosphere-the articles included here are culled from the "Comments" section of the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town" and from Hertzberg's political blog. When parsing Republican nominees and their platforms, the author is consistently fair, though unabashedly liberal. His admiration for Obama is conveyed in eloquent, rigorous prose, and his criticism of attack advertisements and the legacy of the Bush administration are bolstered by deep knowledge of political history and verifiable facts. Hertzberg effectively demonstrates how the election was momentous not just because a Democrat was elected in a time of Republican distress, but because it forever altered the political landscape: A black man won the Democratic nomination for the first time in history; a female vice-presidential candidate challenged the paradigm of political experience; issues such as health care, the environment and the economy trumped the fear- mongering campaigns of the last several cycles; journalism as an industry and an institution was challenged by the egalitarian proliferation of live-bloggers. Without sacrificing the sublime wordplay that devoted New Yorker fans hold dear, the author presents an incisive, profound and intellectually challenging commentary on a landmark series of events in American political history. The perfect book with which to recall and appreciate the significance of Obama's journey to the White House."
--Kirkus, starred review
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (October 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594202362
  • ASIN: B003IWYHEW
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,729,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. C. Massie on October 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have devoured Hertzberg's articles on Obama in The New Yorker, and am thrilled whenever one appears. He's a superb writer, and I think his instincts are keen and wonderfully in harmony with my thinking. I had not quite understood, however, that this book is a reprise of all those writings....so I was a little bit disappointed.....but still enjoyed rereading, and this is a good book to keep.
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Format: Hardcover
Around 90% of this book can be read for free online (just search in the New Yorker website). The essays were either past blogs by Hertzberg or his contribution to the Comments section of the magazine, which I think he corners at least once every month. (Hertzberg is a New Yorker columnist, essentially). Most of them are also available as free audio podcasts, read professionally and nicely. (See the New Yorker Podcasts Channel in iTunes). Lastly, if you already subscribe to the New Yorker (as I do), ideally, you shouldn't buy this book any more.

But I recommend that you still procure one. Why?
1) The introductory essay is one of the most solid, concise, well-knit introduction that Ive seen in a collection of essays or stories in general. How Hendrik Hertzberg dispensed "I value political liberty and political rights (freedom of thought, speech)... highly than economic liberty, and econonomic rights (property rights...)... so Im a Liberal." is brilliant. It's a perfect demo how to put away the preliminaries before diving into specifics. It's also a way to draw the line between that proverbial conservative-liberal divide in a few words.

2) The chronological presentation of the essays substitutes for a very good chronicle, from the groundwork to the peak, of a historical milestone. Without waiting weekly, the essays leading to the Obama presidency is presented in succession. The first essay was about the Democratic Convention for Kerry's campaign, where Obama delivered the convention speech, and then the last two: a celebratory essay on Obama's win and a very solid New Yorker editorial entitled "The Choice." That essay is only the second time the magazine endorsed a candidate explicitly.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hendrik Hertzberg writes the way a Tiger Woods drives a golf ball, Roger Federer srikes a forehand and Dave Grohl plays the drums. Even if some readers may disagree with Hertzberg's unabashed support for Barack Obama, they will enjoy his elegant phrases and unexpected metaphors that bring his ideas and analysis into stark relief. Obamanos has the added element of a Cinderella story, from his early flagging of Obama's political genius through his victory in 2008. Hertzberg is a good guide to this unfolding drama as it happens.

I only wish more of the selected essays addressed Hertzberg's passion for political reforms like proportional representation, instant runoff voting and a national popular vote for president. Perhaps those collected writings will need to wait until, like Obama, those reforms have their shining moment of national victories that put them in the nation's media spotlight -- certainly Hertzberg will have a great archive to draw on, as he does in Obamanos about the political rise of Barack Obama.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hendrik Hertzberg is one of the reasons why I subscribe to The New Yorker magazine so I anticipated a terrific read when I purchased "¡Obámanos!". I got it. Hertzberg knows how to write a perfect essay and here he strings together four years of them, following political events from just before the 2004 election to Obama's presidential ascendancy in 2008.

As an essay collection, "¡Obámanos!" actually improves as it goes along. The earlier chapters are a bit harder to get through because it's like revisiting really old news. But when the author gets into the primary season and delivers an hysterical chapter called "Brouhaha", (on Hillary's laughing capacity) things really take off. Hertzberg is a liberal, of course, and says so up front...just in case you're wondering! Yet his ability to skewer the other side, making light of John McCain, Sarah Palin, et al. is a "smile per paragraph". His short offering on "Palinopsia" presents a humorous, surprising addition.

In the end, Hertzberg says how proud he feels when he goes to vote, letting his son pull the levers and how he let the tears roll on Election Night, 2008. I felt the same way. It's a poignant ending to a wonderful book and I highly recommend "¡Obámanos!".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent language. Tidbits of history, here & there. Writer on the liberal side who is trying his best to remain balanced.
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