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Barack Obama's America: How New Conceptions of Race, Family, and Religion Ended the Reagan Era (Contemporary Political And Social Issues) First Edition (US) First Printing Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0472033911
ISBN-10: 0472033913
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

White, an author and D.C.-based professor of politics, documents the shifting demographic sands that led to President Obama's election, and the "politics of discomfort" that have arisen (on the right and the left) in America's transformation from a predominately white country, content to reminisce about conservative 1950s values, into a multicultural body politic with elastic cultural and social mores. With a sensibility that recalls Robert Putnam's seminal Bowling Alone, White uses polls, census data, popular media and political anecdotes to describe a "new" society, in which interracial marriage, divorce, single motherhood and cohabitation are no longer taboo, in which gay rights gain ground (as long as marriage isn't put to a vote) and people attend church more for entertainment and community than for religion. Changes in attitudes in any one of these areas-race, family, gay rights, religion-would be "good enough to transform politics as previously understood"; together, they constitute "four revolutions" that show "no signs of abating." Though he's generally a careful, dispassionate observer, White (The New Politics of Old Values) occasionally betrays a hint of wistfulness for the social and political frameworks of a bygone time. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

John Kenneth White is a Professor of Politics at the Catholic University of America and is the author of several books on American politics including THE FRACTURED ELECTORATE: POLITICAL PARTIES AND SOCIAL CHANGE IN SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND (1983); THE NEW POLITICS OF OLD VALUES (1988, 1990, AND 2000); STILL SEEING RED: HOW THE COLD WAR SHAPES THE NEW AMERICAN POLITICS (1998); AND THE VALUES DIVIDE: AMERICAN POLITICS AND CULTURE IN TRANSITION (2002). He has appeared on numerous television programs including THIS WEEK WITH DAVID BRINKLEY and his analysis of contemporary politics have appeared in the WASHINGTON POST, BOSTON GLOBE, BBC, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR RADIO, U.S.I.A. television programs, wire services, and various other national newspapers.
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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary Political And Social Issues
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (August 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472033913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472033911
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 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: #1,766,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Boldly composed and brilliantly written, the author of The Values Divide (Congressional Quarterly, 2002) returns with an in-depth look at the events leading up to the election of the first African American President, Barack Obama. In true Machiavellian form, White's meticulously referenced chronicle offers valuable insight into key factors that contributed to the end of the Reagan era, while explaining how the "have-not" generation of the 1930's became their "have-more" counterparts in 2008 and coalesced to formulate the Obama victory.

Barack Obama's America is a must read for political scholars, junkies and John or Jane Q public, thirsting for unique trend data in remarkable form.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a useful summary of some of the key ways U.S. society has changed over the past 50 years. The author examines the country's increasing ethnic diversity, the decline of the traditional family, advances in gay rights and what he sees as the decline of traditional religion. As such, it breaks little new ground but it's well-written and relatively succinct.
The main problem with this book is that it relies almost entirely on secondary sources, most notably newspaper articles. The author does not seem to have strayed out of his classroom to actually talk to people himself. He also fails to delve very much into primary sources such as government reports from the Census Bureau and the many other official and academic publications he could have referenced.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with quoting other people's reporting but total reliance can produce distortions since journalists naturally tend to write about the extraordinary and neglect the ordinary.
One example: in his chapter "Twenty First Century Faces," the author cites three articles by Washington Post reporter Anne Hull 13 times in quick succession.
In that same chapter, he repeatedly quotes books and articles by Samuel Huntington, a controversial writer who argued that Hispanic immigration threatened U.S. cultural identity.
Huntington is cited as the source for the assertion on page 63 that "Jose has replaced Michael as the most popular name for baby boys."
It took me only a few seconds to ascertain from the website of the Social Security Administration that in 2004, the year that Huntington's claim was published, the most popular boy's name was Jacob; Michael was number 2 and Jose was number 28! In 2008, Jose had fallen to 41st place.
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Format: Paperback
Another winner by a talented author, Barack Obama's America: How New Conceptions of Race, Family and Religion Ended the Reagan Era, is carefully researched and well written. John Kenneth White offers his readers the evolving demographic and social trends behind Obama's victory in compelling, real terms. It is the most interesting book about Obama on the market today, a must read.

by Annie Laurie
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