Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years

David Litt. Ecco, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-256845-8
In this entertaining memoir, Litt recounts becoming, in 2011, one of eight speechwriters for President Obama. Two years later, he held the title “special assistant to the president” and was Obama’s go-to guy for funny lines, with an ever-larger role in the president’s remarks for the annual Correspondents’ Dinner. His career culminated in 2015 with the famous Correspondents’ Dinner featuring “Obama’s Anger Translator,” Keegan-Michael Key’s sketch-comedy character. Litt’s tale shares a starry-eyed sensibility and gratification in personal good fortune—in his case, landing a dream job soon after graduating from Yale—with other accounts published by former Obama staffers. However, he manages to come off as not (too) privileged or self-important, candidly recollecting some of his biggest gaffes as a White House speechwriter (for instance, gravely offending the government and people of Kenya with a single, thoughtlessly written line.) He also does an excellent job describing the genesis and performance of several of Obama’s most powerful speeches, including one made following the Charleston church shootings in 2015: “Then, without warning, he paused, looked down, and shook his head.... Then, softly, the most powerful person on earth began to sing.” Veering between tragedy and comedy, between self-doubt and hubris, Litt vividly recreates a period during which he saw his words sometimes become the words of a nation. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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