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A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 4, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
As opposed to an earlier reviewer who described the book as a "hit piece" against Obama's candidacy, the book is much more than that. It is an examination of the state of racial thought in this country and why - sadly - it is still perceived as necessary for both whites and blacks to assume "masks" to shield public perception of their true character. It examines the masquarade that we all attend in daily lives with our costumes and facades because we are too fearful and timid to expose the true nature of our beliefs - right or wrong, PC or not - for fear of repercussions.
He is correct in categorizing Oprah Winfrey (and Michael Jordan and, to some degree, Tiger Woods) as "bargainers" just as he is correct in calling Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Spike Lee as "challengers." It is clear to anyone who takes the time to examine the behaviors and the successes involved. The tragedy is not that Steele categorizes people of color with these artificial terms; the tragedy is that one behaves in these ways in order to achieve recognition and success. The abandonment of self and one's ideals is an immense price to pay for the chance at success.
The author turns a beautiful phrase when he writes:
"[Obama's candidacy]...asks the American democracy to complete itself, to achieve that almost perfect transparency in which color is, indeed, no veil over character - where a black, like a white, can put himself forward as the individual he truly is."
When we can reach this cultural chimera, we will be truly a nation of one people.
Obama's biracial heritage also brands him as unique compared to prior black candidates running for president. His mother who raised him is a white woman from Kansas so Obama is intimately familiar and comfortable in the world of whites. Raised by his Midwestern mother, grandmother and grandfather - all white - he was essentially raised exclusively in a white family first in Hawaii and later in Indonesia. On the other hand, his black Kenyan father who separated from his mother when Obama was two (they later divorced) left Barack Obama with a feeling of disconnection that has motivated a life-long quest to come to terms with his black roots. Steele insists that Obama's choice to work in community agencies in East St. Louis out of college as well as his decision to do civil rights law on the south side of Chicago after graduating from Harvard Law School are both examples of his efforts to come to terms with his black past and black identity.
Steele also makes the point that Obama is not someone who has gotten where he is through Affirmative Action and other entitlement programs.Read more ›
The problem with this book is that the author never judges Obama on any grounds other than how he plays the racial game--unless you count a few offhand references to Obama being intelligent, talented, etc. So ironically, the "bound man" of the title turns out to be--as one reviewer here has already asserted--the author himself.
Steele does make a strong case for why Obama is walking such a fine line politically, as a black man who is trying to win over both blacks and whites in large enough numbers to win the presidency. He also provides some insight into why Obama chose Reverend Wright as his pastor, which is impressive considering that this book was written months before Reverend Wright was front page news. Steele's categorization of prominent black Americans as either "bargainers" or "challengers" also makes sense, and he is credible in spelling out the advantages and potential pitfalls of each of these approaches.
But unfortunately, the book is so limited in scope that it distorts Obama as well as those who support him. Has Steele even considered that some people may support Obama because he appears to be the most intelligent and the most level-headed of all the candidates?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
... No one listened to Steele and look what we have now. Hell in a hand-basket.Published 6 months ago by Kenny Kemp
Excellent account into Obama's and the black American psyche. Perhaps Mr. Steele should change the secod part of the subtitle, "... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Daniel Suarez
I debated with myself about whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars. So, first, let me start with the reasons I had for giving it three, and then reasons why I gave it four instead. Read morePublished on August 24, 2014 by Kevin Currie-Knight
In this fascinating book, African-American columnist and thinker Shelby Steele looks at presidential candidate Barack Obama. Analyzing Obama’s family life and life experiences, Dr. Read morePublished on April 21, 2014 by The Reviewer Formerly Known as Kurt Johnson
I bought and read this book when it came out, and hoped Steele had it right. Now that Obama has won twice, it's obvious Steele had him pegged completely wrong. Read morePublished on October 20, 2013 by Bill Bradshaw
People need to stop listening to these "experts" and believing things they see and watch on the media. Read morePublished on February 4, 2013 by BLWS
Sadly, this book's general premise -- not its specific argument -- is more relevant in 2011 than it was during the campaign of '08. Read morePublished on August 7, 2011 by Large Pro
So how'd that "He Can't Win" prediction go for ya, Steele? LOL
President Obama's approval is currently between 15 and 25 points higher than Reagan's was at this point in... Read more
Shelby Steele is a talented writer so it is kind of sad that he now has this lifetime ALBATROSS of a book and title hanging around his neck. Read morePublished on March 31, 2010 by Kevin Orth