Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race

Thomas J. Sugrue, Author . Princeton Univ. $24.95 (178p) ISBN 978-0-691-13730-8

Distinguished civil rights historian and sociologist Sugrue (Sweet Land of Liberty ) follows Barack Obama's intellectual journey and political education from his student years in the late 1970s through his first years as president, offering an insightful and fresh glimpse of Obama through three lenses—as intellectual, politician, and policy maker—and with three essays. While David Remnick's comprehensive The Bridge bears thematic similarities, Sugrue offers a pithy and readable survey of some of the same terrain—the path that “rooted the rootless Hawaiian in the history of the Southern freedom struggle” and the formation of his politics that favored “reconciliation over confrontation.” Sugrue addresses Obama's Chicago years and the evolution of his thinking on class. And the final essay assesses Obama as candidate and president. Particularly noteworthy is Sugrue's attention to Obama's post–Jeremiah Wright controversy speech in 2008 (“the most learned disquisition on race from a major political figure ever”) and a splendid illumination of the roles played by books (particularly the work of William Julius Wilson), by mentors (political and clerical), and by family (especially Michelle Obama's) in Obama's ascent. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/19/2010
Release date: 05/01/2010
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