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Obama: From Promise to Power Paperback
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The Amazon Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
"What the public has yet to see clearly is his hidden side: his imperious, mercurial, self-righteous and sometimes prickly nature, each quality exacerbated by the enormous career pressures he has inflicted upon himself. He can be cold and short with reporters who he believes have given him unfair coverage. He is an extraordinarily ambitious, competitive man with ... a career reach that seems to have no bounds. He is, in fact, a many of raw ambition so powerful that even his is still coming to terms with its full force."
Beyond Mendell's observations about Obama itself, are his observations about Obama's luck, for the most part, in two ways: his political timing (except for challenging Bobby Rush) and his political handlers, above all David Axelrod.
Beyond that, here's some specific takes from Mendell:
First, Obama's sometime lack of specificity on policy issues is nothing new.
Second, Obama's attendance at a Chicago antiwar rally, according to Mendell, while it had a degree of idealism behind it, also had a degree of political calculation involved.
Third, Obama did pass some bills in his last term in the Illinois Senate to bolster his U.S. Senate campaign. Specifically, despite his strong stance on gun controls, he sponsored a bill to let retired cops have concealed carry. Why? To get the endorsement of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, which he did.
Add it all up, and I see a Barack Obama of dichotomy.Read more ›
It is no criticism of Obama's own accounts of his life to say that they suffer from the limitations that all memoirs do: When the subject of a book is also its author, most matters are written about in a way that is inevitably favorable to the subject-author's own interests. In a memoir, even the admission of mistakes and the confession of failings is inevitably shaped in line with the need for favorable self-portraiture, toward, say, a wish to appear honest and candid.
For the reader, the danger of a memoir written by a sophisticated professional politician like Barack Obama is that you never know when you're being spun and when you aren't. His candidacy is running into the same trap--on the stump he professes to be an outsider, innocent of Washington's games, a position that was taken to task today by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times.
Dowd: You may recall her column about Obama that included a memorably cheap shot at his physical appearance. Predictably, this provoked Obama's ire and showed a prickliness that at the time seemed out of place, but which Mendell convincingly portrays in this book as part of his makeup. He really does chafe when someone goes after him, even unfairly. He seems prima-donnaish, thin-skinned. (As two recent reviewers carrying hatchets against Mendel seem not to understand, there are much worse flaws to have.Read more ›
Eventually, the book by Mendell picks up with another view on Obama's ups and downs, including Obama's failed bid to oust Bobby Rush from his congressional seat in 2000. (Ironically, Rush is now backing Obama for President in 2008)
The book also has good insights into the specific results that Obama has delivered for African-American constituents in Illinois.
The strategies and tactics of David Axelrod (Obama's consultant) made for compelling reading, and were a big part of Obama's overwhelming victory in the 2004 race for the Illinois seat in the U.S. Senate.
Overall, the book is a nice complement to "The Audacity of Hope" by Obama himself. I would just read "The Audacity of Hope" first, then Mendell's book.
A WEALTH OF FAMILY: An Adopted Son's International Quest for Heritage, Reunion, and Enrichment
Four hours later, it was 3 a.m., and I'd read more than 200 pages. I finished it up the next day.
In "Obama: From Promise to Power," David Mendell delivers thorough, thoughtful and insightful reporting; detailed, engaging, sometimes-humorous, front-line storytelling; vivid exposition of characters; and a coherent organization that allowed for intermittent interweaving of various individuals and their roles in Obama's life.
Throughout, Mendell effectively captures and conveys the myriad facets of this fascinating public figure.
As a citizen trying to decide whom to support in the coming election, I found this to be illuminating and most helpful in understanding the dynamics of Obama, his supporters and handlers, and the race overall as it progresses.
My high regard for Mendell's work comes largely because I know just how tough his job has been in covering Obama the past five years.
I am a longtime newspaper reporter who has also covered (significantly less notable) public figures, and (much more local) political races. Much of my work has been as a freelance writer for the Chicago Tribune, for which Mendell writes and the basis for his interactions with Obama. I should note that I do not personally know Mendell.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There have been countless books written about Barack Obama over the past 12 years, some have been blistering critiques of our nation's 44th (and first African-American) President. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Glen Chern
A very insightful inside view of Barak Obama by the reporter and author David Mendell from the early days of his political life up to his election in 1980. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Terry E. Simms
this book appears to be a realistic and accurate accounting of Barack Obama's rise from relative obscurity to just before he runs for president. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Kay Nichols
The book is very enlightening. From the book we know President Obama. I appreciate his love and caring for all people.He earned his position in life.Published 14 months ago by liz
I actually hate this 'occupier of the oval office' but wanted the book as a record of what this criminal has done to our Country. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Judy A. Bielamowicz
Pre-presidential story of B Obama rising to political prominence.Published 16 months ago by Tony Scalzo
Well written and thoroughly worth reading. Provides great background information.Published 16 months ago by Rachael Selby
An amazing story of a man who rose to be president against all odds and in spite of the dificulties that have been placed in his path. Well written and very enlightening.Published 16 months ago by Carol A.