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The Promise: President Obama, Year One Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 18, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm surprised that some of the reviewers here think that Alter's book is overly biased in favor of Obama.
It's clear that the writer thinks highly of Obama personally -- he portrays him as highly intelligent and possessed of effective leadership skills. But Alter is also very clear-eyed about where Obama has gone wrong in the first year of his presidency.
Alter gives Obama credit for actions early in the presidency (the bank and automaker bail-outs) that were unpopular, but probably saved the recession from tipping over into a depression, and for the historic health care legislation. With health care, Obama delivered on something that presidents since FDR have tried and failed to do. Nobody thinks it is a perfect plan but it is something that can be built on.
But Alter faults Obama in other crucial areas -- particularly jobs and housing. Obama, as portrayed by Alter, errs in relying too heavily on one set of economists -- Geithner, Summers, and their acolytes -- while essentially ignoring contradictory views. Everything had to be funnelled through Summers. Obama, in Alter's analysis, thereby encloses himself in the "bubble" that he had said he was going to try to avoid.
Alter also faults Obama for failing to communicate effectively with the American people about what he was trying to do. Obama's cool, unemotional personality does not serve him well, in a situation which required the warmth and empathy that an FDR or a Clinton were able to convey.Read more ›
The reader is provided with thorough background information on all of the major players in President Obama's administration. I was especially fascinated by the description of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's agonizing decision whether to take the job as Chief of Staff or remain in the House, eventually succeeding Nancy Pelosi to become the first Jewish Speaker of the House. First Jewish Speaker? I had no idea that anyone thought that way in the 21st century. I thought that we had put silly religious issues behind us. I'm old enough to remember when (Catholic) JFK was running for the presidency and voters (including my Goldwater Republican parents) were terrified that if he were elected, the Pope would be running the country. As history reminds us, JFK was elected and governed the country without the Pope.
First Lady Michelle Obama is treated respectfully. I was surprised to learn that despite her husband never having been subject to rumors of infidelity, she is described as "a tiger when it came to Barack and other women.", the example of Halle Berry's enthusiasm in campaigning for Obama prompting the future First Lady to forbid her husband to appear with her.
Mr. Alter's previous book, "The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope", dealt with FDR and the New Deal.Read more ›
What do I mean by "sympathetic"? I don't certainly mind if an author admires his subject or favors his policy choices. However, Alter seems determined to find no fault with Obama and dismiss all of his failures as the fault of others. In the introduction, Alter seems to blame Obama's first-year woes on the president's overconfidence in the - get this - the American people. Too often, voters are portrayed as dumb, Republicans as devious, and Obama's policy choices as all brilliant, if misunderstood. However, let's be honest - there are many people who have honest concerns about Obama's policies. I myself agree with some (foreign policy), but not others (healthcare). Sometimes, I got the sense Alter simply repeated spin from the administration. This sort of bias in The Promise: President Obama, Year One is simply unacceptable in real a history.
This type of "journalistic history" book is really built around a few revealing anecdotes, without much substance or depth.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Clearly articulated and balanced review of Obama's first year as president of the U.S. Both successes, near misses and failures recounted. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Chris
The author, Jonathan Alter is a brilliant journalist and TV commentator from Chicago who probably knows the man Barack Obama better than anyone out here. Read morePublished on July 1, 2014 by Nuschler
My God how fawning can one man be toward another without actually declaring his love publicly? Alter really goes over the top in this less then objective puff piece. Read morePublished on June 18, 2014 by J. C. Gorman
We get an inside look at the Obama White House. It may not be pretty but I can tell you that it is something that you won't learn about anywhere else. Enjoy this book!Published on January 17, 2014 by Foothill Ranch 14
No complaints...Used it for a research paper for school and the timelines of the delivery was more than helpful. Thanks!Published on December 21, 2013 by Peter Chlastawa
Love this book. I learned so much from it and I really enjoy the writing style of Jonathan Alter. I love President Obama and think he is a man of great character and truly loves... Read morePublished on November 23, 2013 by S. Buchanan
Most things were covered but with the wrong slant. There was nothing said about some of the mistakes made. In fact it almost seemed as if it was written by Obama.Published on August 9, 2013 by Ted Mahl