Obama: An Oral History 2009–2017

Brian Abrams. Little A, $24.95 (503p) ISBN 978-1-503951-66-2
Abrams (And Now... An Oral History of Late Night with David Letterman, 1982–1993) interviewed more than 100 people connected to the Obama White House for this sprawling oral history, but the sheer volume of material and its haphazard organization undermine an otherwise promising project. Despite the subtitle, the book actually begins in 2004, with recollections of then-Senator Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, which elevated him to prominence. Those reminiscences are typical of the volume, providing no news or memorable insights (Obama’s body man, Reggie Love, is at one point quoted making the obvious statement that his job involved “trying to deal with problems around logistics”). The book moves on chronologically to Obama’s presidential campaign and through the major turning points in the Obama presidency—the struggle to get Obamacare passed, the killing of Osama bin Laden, and, eventually, the election of President Trump—shifting frequently and jarringly among topics without transitions. Abrams offers a nice mix of recognizable names (David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, Leon Panetta) and lower-level aides and officials, and while most of the entries are positive, he also includes comments by those disappointed by the Obama White House, such as Illinois congressman Luis Gutiérrez, whose immigration reform agenda was not made a priority. But more is less here, and this is unlikely to be viewed as essential reading even for those interested in the topic. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2018
Release date: 07/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-9786-2321-7
Paperback - 978-1-5039-5165-5
MP3 CD - 978-1-9786-2322-4
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