A biography worthy of an extraordinary man...,
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This review is from: The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama (Paperback)
I very much doubt there'll be a better biography of Barack Obama, at least not within the next decade or so, because this book is truly excellent. I came away from it not just with a better understanding of Obama, but the civil rights movement and race relations in America in general.
It really clarified my image of Obama as an extraordinary man - not necessarily an extraordinary President, because history will tell on that one, and simply being the first African-American President in no way guarantees that his presidency will prove a success. But no-one less than extraordinary could have the rise Obama had, to go from an Illinois state senator to President of the United States in four years.
'The bridge' in the title refers not just to the attack on peaceful civil rights demonstrators by armed officers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, but also the way Obama perceives himself and his role in politics.
With a white mother and African father, Obama deliberately carved out a role for himself as an African-American - he wasn't born with that perception of himself and he grew up largely removed from the race context in America. And it's interesting how many people who knew Obama as a child and teenager said the same variation of 'I never thought of Barack as black'. Obama chose to position himself as an African-America, but one with a unique insight and understanding of whites as well. He saw himself as a man of two cultures, a man capable of living in and understanding both, a man who could act as a living bridge. And that perception influenced his entire political career - he consistently strove to act as a mediator between parties, a conciliator, someone who could reconcile opposing viewpoints. How successful he proves at doing that in the vicious partisan world of Washington politics is something for another book.