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The Audacity of Hoop
Basketball and the Age of Obama
Alexander Wolff
Temple University Press, 2015

While basketball didn’t take up residence in the White House in January 2009, the game nonetheless played an outsized role in forming the man who did. In The Audacity of Hoop, celebrated sportswriter Alexander Wolff examines Barack Obama, the person and president, by the light of basketball. This game helped Obama explore his identity, keep a cool head, impress his future wife, and define himself as a candidate. 

Wolff chronicles Obama’s love of the game from age 10, on the campaign trail—where it eventually took on talismanic meaning—and throughout his two terms in office. More than 125 photographs illustrate Obama dribbling, shooting free throws, playing pickup games, cooling off with George Clooney, challenging his special assistant Reggie Love for a rebound, and taking basketball to political meetings. There is also an assessment of Obama’s influence on the NBA, including a dawning political consciousness in the league’s locker rooms. 

Sidebars reveal the evolution of the president’s playing style, “Baracketology”—a not-entirely-scientific art of filling out the commander in chief’s NCAA tournament bracket—and a timeline charts Obama’s personal and professional highlights.

Equal parts biographical sketch, political narrative, and cultural history, The Audacity of Hoop shows how the game became a touchstone in Obama’s exercise of the power of the presidency.  

 
[more]

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Barack Obama and African Diasporas
Dialogues and Dissensions
Paul Tiyambe Zeleza
Ohio University Press, 2009

An active blogger on The Zeleza Post, from which these essays are drawn, Paul Tiyambe Zeleza provides a genuinely critical engagement with Africa’s multiple worlds. With a blend of erudition and lively style, Zeleza writes about the role ofAfrica and Africans in the world and the interaction of the world with Africa.

In the title essay, Zeleza analyzes the significance of the election of a member of the African diaspora to the presidency of the United States. He also addresses Africa’s urgent political concerns: China’s role in Africa, South Africa's difficulties in making the transition to a postapartheid society, the agony of Zimbabwe, and a discussion of Pan-Africanism, its history and contemporary challenges. Other posts introduce the reader to the rhythms of daily life, including football and other leisure activities, in capturing the different aspects of Africa.

An original and respected voice, Zeleza engages the reader in a series of passionate public conversations on issues and events of utmost importance to the globalized world. He deserves a wide readership.

[more]

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Barack Obama's America
How New Conceptions of Race, Family, and Religion Ended the Reagan Era
John Kenneth White
University of Michigan Press, 2009

"White's Barack Obama's America eloquently captures both the important nuances of the current political scene and its long-term consequences."
---Richard Wirthlin, former pollster for Ronald Reagan

"This delightfully written and accessible book is the best available account of the changes in culture, society, and politics that have given us Barack Obama's America."
---Stan Greenberg, pollster for Bill Clinton and Chairman and CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research

"From one of the nation's foremost experts on how values shape our politics, a clear and compelling account of the dramatic shifts in social attitudes that are transforming American political culture. White's masterful blend of narrative and data illuminates the arc of electoral history from Reagan to Obama, making a powerful case for why we are entering a new progressive political era."
---Matthew R. Kerbel, Professor of Political Science, Villanova University, and author of Netroots

"John Kenneth White is bold. He asks the big questions . . . Who are we? What do we claim to believe? How do we actually live? What are our politics? John Kenneth White writes compellingly about religion and the role it played in making Barack Obama president. White's keen insight into America's many faiths clarifies why Barack Obama succeeded against all odds. It is a fascinating description of religion and politics in twenty-first-century America---a must-read."
---Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and author of Failing America's Faithful

"In Barack Obama's America, John Kenneth White has written the political equivalent of Baedeker or Michelin, the definitive guide to and through the new, uncharted political landscape of our world. White captures and explains what America means---and what it means to be an American---in the twenty-first century."
---Mark Shields, nationally syndicated columnist and political commentator for PBS NewsHour

"John White has always caught important trends in American politics that others missed. With his shrewd analysis of why Barack Obama won, he's done it again."
---E. J. Dionne, Jr., Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, and University Professor in the Foundations of Democracy and Culture at Georgetown University

The election of Barack Obama to the presidency marks a conclusive end to the Reagan era, writes John Kenneth White in Barack Obama's America. Reagan symbolized a 1950s and 1960s America, largely white and suburban, with married couples and kids at home, who attended church more often than not.

Obama's election marks a new era, the author writes. Whites will be a minority by 2042. Marriage is at an all-time low. Cohabitation has increased from a half-million couples in 1960 to more than 5 million in 2000 to even more this year. Gay marriages and civil unions are redefining what it means to be a family. And organized religions are suffering, even as Americans continue to think of themselves as a religious people. Obama's inauguration was a defining moment in the political destiny of this country, based largely on demographic shifts, as described in Barack Obama's America.

John Kenneth White is Professor of Politics at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Cover image: "Out of many, we are one: Dare to Hope: Faces from 2008 Obama Rallies" by Anne C. Savage, view and buy full image at http://revolutionaryviews.com/obama_poster.html.

[more]

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Campaign Inc.
How Leadership and Organization Propelled Barack Obama to the White House
Henry F. De Sio., Jr.
University of Iowa Press, 2014
It takes more than an excellent candidate to win elections; it takes an outstanding campaign organization, too. Campaign Inc. is the story of how leadership and organization propelled Barack Obama to the White House. As the chief operating officer of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Henry F. De Sio, Jr., was positioned to view this historic campaign as few others could. In this fascinating behind-the-scenes account, he whisks readers into Obama’s national election headquarters in Chicago to glimpse the decision-making processes and myriad details critical to running a successful and innovative presidential campaign. From the campaign’s early chaos to the jubilation and drama of winning the Iowa caucus, to the drawn-out Democratic nomination process, to Obama’s eventual election as president of the United States, De Sio guides readers through the challenges faced by the Obama for America campaign in its brief twenty-one-month lifespan.

De Sio shows readers that Obama himself was direct about his vision for the campaign when he instructed his staff to “run it like a business.” Thus, this is less the story of Barack Obama, candidate, and more the story of Barack Obama, CEO. Because campaigns are launched from scratch during every election cycle, they are the ultimate entrepreneurial experience. In the course of the election, the Obama campaign scaled up from a scrappy start-up to a nearly $1 billion operation, becoming a hothouse environment on which the glare of the media spotlight was permanently trained.

Campaign Inc. allows readers to peek behind the curtain at the underdog organization that brought down the Clinton campaign and later went on to defeat the Republican machine, while offering lessons in leadership and organization to innovators, executives, and entrepreneurs.
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Community Organizing and Community Building for Health and Social Equity, 4th edition
Meredith Minkler and Patricia Wakimoto
Rutgers University Press, 2022
The fourth edition of Community Organizing and Community Building for Health and Social Equity provides both classic and recent contributions to the field, with a special accent on how these approaches can contribute to health and social equity. The 23 chapters offer conceptual frameworks, skill- building and case studies in areas like coalition building, organizing by and with women of color, community assessment, and the power of the arts, the Internet, social media, and policy and media advocacy in such work. The use of participatory evaluation and strategies and tips on fundraising for community organizing also are presented, as are the ethical challenges that can arise in this work, and helpful tools for anticipating and addressing them. Also included are study questions for use in the classroom. 
 
Many of the book’s contributors are leaders in their academic fields, from public health and social work, to community psychology and urban and regional planning, and to social and political science. One author was the 44th president of the United States, himself a former community organizer in Chicago, who reflects on his earlier vocation and its importance. Other contributors are inspiring community leaders whose work on-the-ground and in partnership with us “outsiders” highlights both the power of collaboration, and the cultural humility and other skills required to do it well. 

Throughout this book, and particularly in the case studies and examples shared, the role of context is critical, and never far from view. Included here most recently are the horrific and continuing toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a long overdue, yet still greatly circumscribed, “national reckoning with systemic racism,” in the aftermath of the brutal police killing of yet another unarmed Black person, and then another and another, seemingly without  end. In many chapters, the authors highlight different facets of the Black Lives Matter movement that  took on new life across the country and the world in response to these atrocities.  In other chapters, the existential threat of climate change and grave threats to democracy also are underscored.

View the Table of Contents and introductory text for the supplementary instructor resources. (https://d3tto5i5w9ogdd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/04143046/9781978832176_optimized_sampler.pdf)

Supplementary instructor resources are available on request: https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/communityorganizing
[more]

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Fire on the Prairie
Harold Washington, Chicago Politics, and the Roots of the Obama Presidency
Gary Rivlin
Temple University Press, 2012

Harold Washington’s historic and improbable victory over the vaunted Chicago political machine shook up American politics. The election of the enigmatic yet engaging Washington led to his serving five tumultuous years as the city’s first black mayor. He fashioned an uneasy but potent multiracial coalition that today still stands as a model for political change.

In this revised edition of Fire on the Prairie, acclaimed reporter Gary Rivlin chronicles Washington’s legacy—a tale rich in character and intrigue. He reveals the cronyism of Daley’s government and Washington’s rivalry with Jesse Jackson. Rivlin also shows how Washington’s success inspired a young community organizer named Barack Obama to turn to the electoral arena as a vehicle for change. While the story of a single city, , this political biography is anything but parochial.

[more]

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God Talk
Experimenting With the Religious Causes of Public Opinion
Paul Djupe
Temple University Press, 2013
Religion’s influence on public opinion, politics, and candidates has been widely discussed in political science for a generation. God Talk isthe first volume that uses experimental methodology to establish whether and how that influence works.
 
Paul Djupe and Brian Calfano provide an unprecedented look at how religious cues, values, and identity-driven appeals impact candidate selection, trust, interest group support, and U.S. public opinion about tolerance, the environment, foreign policy, and related issues.
 
By situating their disparate, randomly assigned interventions within the broader framework of elite-based influence, the authors apply their new methodology to three questions: How do clergy affect congregation members? How are religious elites and groups and their public arguments evaluated? With what effect do political elites use religion? The results of their research provide a compelling framework for understanding the links between religion and politics.

In the series The Social Logic of Politics, edited by Scott McClurg
[more]

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I Heart Obama
Erin Aubry Kaplan
University Press of New England, 2016
In his nearly two terms as president, Barack Obama has solidified his status as something black people haven’t had for fifty years: a folk hero. The 1960s delivered Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, forever twinned as larger-than-life outsiders and truth tellers who took on racism and died in the process. Obama is different: Not an outsider but president, head of the most powerful state in the world; a centrist Democrat, not the face of a movement. Yet he is every bit a folk hero, doing battle with the beast of a system created to keep people like him on the margins. He is unique among presidents and entirely unique among black people, who never expected to have a president so soon. In I Heart Obama, journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan offers an unapologetic appreciation of our highest-ranking “First” and what he means to black Americans. In the process, she explores the critiques of those in the black community who charge that he has not done enough, been present enough, been black enough to motivate real change in America. Racial antipathy cloaked as political antipathy has been the major conflict in Obama’s presidency. His impossible task as an individual and as a president is nothing less than this: to reform the entire racist culture of the country he leads. Black people know he can’t do it, but will support his effort anyway, as they have supported the efforts of many others. Obama’s is a noble and singular story we will tell for generations. I Heart Obama looks at the story so far.
[more]

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Knowing Him by Heart
African Americans on Abraham Lincoln
Edited by Frederick Hord and Matthew D. Norman
University of Illinois Press, 2023

An unprecedented collection of African American writings on Lincoln

Though not blind to Abraham Lincoln's imperfections, Black Americans long ago laid a heartfelt claim to his legacy. At the same time, they have consciously reshaped the sixteenth president's image for their own social and political ends. Frederick Hord and Matthew D. Norman's anthology explores the complex nature of views on Lincoln through the writings and thought of Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, Thurgood Marshall, Malcolm X, Gwendolyn Brooks, Barbara Jeanne Fields, Barack Obama, and dozens of others. The selections move from speeches to letters to book excerpts, mapping the changing contours of the bond--emotional and intellectual--between Lincoln and Black Americans over the span of one hundred and fifty years.

A comprehensive and valuable reader, Knowing Him by Heart examines Lincoln’s still-evolving place in Black American thought.

[more]

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The Myth of the Imperial Presidency
How Public Opinion Checks the Unilateral Executive
Dino P. Christenson and Douglas L. Kriner
University of Chicago Press, 2020
Throughout American history, presidents have shown a startling power to act independently of Congress and the courts. On their own initiative, presidents have taken the country to war, abolished slavery, shielded undocumented immigrants from deportation, declared a national emergency at the border, and more, leading many to decry the rise of an imperial presidency. But given the steep barriers that usually prevent Congress and the courts from formally checking unilateral power, what stops presidents from going it alone even more aggressively?  The answer, Dino P. Christenson and Douglas L. Kriner argue, lies in the power of public opinion.

With robust empirical data and compelling case studies, the authors reveal the extent to which domestic public opinion limits executive might. Presidents are emboldened to pursue their own agendas when they enjoy strong public support, and constrained when they don’t, since unilateral action risks inciting political pushback, jeopardizing future initiatives, and further eroding their political capital. Although few Americans instinctively recoil against unilateralism, Congress and the courts can sway the public’s view via their criticism of unilateral policies. Thus, other branches can still check the executive branch through political means. As long as presidents are concerned with public opinion, Christenson and Kriner contend that fears of an imperial presidency are overblown.
[more]

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Obama and America’s Political Future
Theda Skocpol
Harvard University Press, 2012

Barack Obama’s galvanizing victory in 2008, coming amid the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, opened the door to major reforms. But the president quickly faced skepticism from supporters and fierce opposition from Republicans, who scored sweeping wins in the 2010 midterm election. Here, noted political scientist Theda Skocpol surveys the political landscape and explores its most consequential questions: What happened to Obama’s “new New Deal”? Why have his achievements enraged opponents more than they have satisfied supporters? How has the Tea Party’s ascendance reshaped American politics?

Skocpol’s compelling account rises above conventional wisdom and overwrought rhetoric. The Obama administration’s response to the recession produced bold initiatives—health care reform, changes in college loans, financial regulation—that promise security and opportunity. But these reforms are complex and will take years to implement. Potential beneficiaries do not readily understand them, yet the reforms alarm powerful interests and political enemies, creating the volatile mix of confusion and fear from which Tea Party forces erupted. Skocpol dissects the popular and elite components of the Tea Party reaction that has boosted the Republican Party while pushing it far to the right at a critical juncture for U.S. politics and governance.

Skocpol’s analysis is accompanied by contributions from two fellow scholars and a former congressman. At this moment of economic uncertainty and extreme polarization, as voters prepare to render another verdict on Obama’s historic presidency, Skocpol and her respondents help us to understand its triumphs and setbacks and see where we might be headed next.

[more]

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Obama and Kenya
Contested Histories and the Politics of Belonging
Matthew Carotenuto
Ohio University Press, 2016

Barack Obama’s political ascendancy has focused considerable global attention on the history of Kenya generally and the history of the Luo community particularly. From politicos populating the blogosphere and bookshelves in the U.S and Kenya, to tourists traipsing through Obama’s ancestral home, a variety of groups have mobilized new readings of Kenya’s past in service of their own ends.

Through narratives placing Obama into a simplified, sweeping narrative of anticolonial barbarism and postcolonial “tribal” violence, the story of the United States president’s nuanced relationship to Kenya has been lost amid stereotypical portrayals of Africa. At the same time, Kenyan state officials have aimed to weave Obama into the contested narrative of Kenyan nationhood.

Matthew Carotenuto and Katherine Luongo argue that efforts to cast Obama as a “son of the soil” of the Lake Victoria basin invite insights into the politicized uses of Kenya’s past. Ideal for classroom use and directed at a general readership interested in global affairs, Obama and Kenya offers an important counterpoint to the many popular but inaccurate texts about Kenya’s history and Obama’s place in it as well as focused, thematic analyses of contemporary debates about ethnic politics, “tribal” identities, postcolonial governance, and U.S. African relations.

[more]

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Obama, Clinton, Palin
Making History in Elections 2008
Edited by Liette Gidlow
University of Illinois Press, 2011

Election 2008 made American history, but it was also the product of American history. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin smashed through some of the most enduring barriers to high political office, but their exceptional candidacies did not come out of nowhere. In these timely and accessible essays, a distinguished group of historians explores how the candidates both challenged and reinforced historic stereotypes of race and sex while echoing familiar themes in American politics and exploiting new digital technologies.

Contributors include Kathryn Kish Sklar on Clinton’s gender masquerade; Tiffany Ruby Patterson on the politics of black anger; Mitch Kachun on Michelle Obama and stereotypes about black women’s bodies; Glenda E. Gilmore on black women’s century of effort to expand political opportunities for African Americans; Tera W. Hunter on the lost legacy of Shirley Chisholm; Susan M. Hartmann on why the U.S. has not yet followed western democracies in electing a female head of state; Melanie Gustafson on Palin and the political traditions of the American West; Ronald Formisano on the populist resurgence in 2008; Paula Baker on how digital technologies threaten the secret ballot; Catherine E. Rymph on Palin’s distinctive brand of political feminism; and Elisabeth I. Perry on the new look of American leadership.

[more]

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The Obama Effect
How the 2008 Campaign Changed White Racial Attitudes
Seth K. Goldman
Russell Sage Foundation, 2014
Barack Obama’s historic 2008 campaign exposed many white Americans more than ever before to a black individual who defied negative stereotypes. While Obama’s politics divided voters, Americans uniformly perceived Obama as highly successful, intelligent, and charismatic. What effect, if any, did the innumerable images of Obama and his family have on racial attitudes among whites? In The Obama Effect, Seth K. Goldman and Diana C. Mutz uncover persuasive evidence that white racial prejudice toward blacks significantly declined during the Obama campaign. Their innovative research rigorously examines how racial attitudes form, and whether they can be changed for the better. The Obama Effect draws from a survey of 20,000 people, whom the authors interviewed up to five times over the course of a year. This panel survey sets the volume apart from most research on racial attitudes. From the summer of 2008 through Obama’s inauguration in 2009, there was a gradual but clear trend toward lower levels of white prejudice against blacks. Goldman and Mutz argue that these changes occurred largely without people’s conscious awareness. Instead, as Obama became increasingly prominent in the media, he emerged as an “exemplar” that countered negative stereotypes in the minds of white Americans. Unfortunately, this change in attitudes did not last. By 2010, racial prejudice among whites had largely returned to pre-2008 levels. Mutz and Goldman argue that news coverage of Obama declined substantially after his election, allowing other, more negative images of African Americans to re-emerge in the media. The Obama Effect arrives at two key conclusions: Racial attitudes can change even within relatively short periods of time, and how African Americans are portrayed in the mass media affects how they change. While Obama’s election did not usher in a “post-racial America,” The Obama Effect provides hopeful evidence that racial attitudes can—and, for a time, did—improve during Obama’s campaign. Engaging and thorough, this volume offers a new understanding of the relationship between the mass media and racial attitudes in America.
[more]

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The Obama Phenomenon
Toward a Multiracial Democracy
Edited by Charles P. Henry, Robert L. Allen, and Robert Chrisman
University of Illinois Press, 2011
Barack Obama's campaign and electoral victory demonstrated the dynamic nature of American democracy. Beginning as a special issue of The Black Scholar, this probing collection illustrates the impact of "the Obama phenomenon" on the future of U.S. race relations through readings on Barack Obama's campaign as well as the idealism and pragmatism of the Obama administration. Some of the foremost scholars of African American politics and culture from an array of disciplines--including political science, theology, economics, history, journalism, sociology, cultural studies, and law--offer critical analyses of topics as diverse as Obama and the media, Obama’s connection with the hip hop community, the public's perception of first lady Michelle Obama, voter behavior, and the history of racial issues in presidential campaigns since the 1960s.
 
Contributors are Josephine A. V. Allen, Robert L. Allen, Herb Boyd, Donald R. Deskins Jr., Cheryl I. Harris, Charles P. Henry, Dwight N. Hopkins, John L. Jackson, Maulana Karenga, Robin D. G. Kelley, Martin Kilson, Clarence Lusane, Julianne Malveaux, Shaun Ossei-Owusu, Dianne M. Pinderhughes, Sherman C. Puckett, Scharn Robinson, Ula Y. Taylor, Alice Walker, Hanes Walton Jr., and Ronald Williams II.
[more]

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Obama's Race
The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America
Michael Tesler and David O. Sears
University of Chicago Press, 2010

Barack Obama’s presidential victory naturally led people to believe that the United States might finally be moving into a post-racial era. Obama’s Race—and its eye-opening account of the role played by race in the election—paints a dramatically different picture.

The authors argue that the 2008 election was more polarized by racial attitudes than any other presidential election on record—and perhaps more significantly, that there were two sides to this racialization: resentful opposition to and racially liberal support for Obama. As Obama’s campaign was given a boost in the primaries from racial liberals that extended well beyond that usually offered to ideologically similar white candidates, Hillary Clinton lost much of her longstanding support and instead became the preferred candidate of Democratic racial conservatives. Time and again, voters’ racial predispositions trumped their ideological preferences as John McCain—seldom described as conservative in matters of race—became the darling of racial conservatives from both parties. Hard-hitting and sure to be controversial, Obama’s Race will be both praised and criticized—but certainly not ignored.

[more]

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Obama's Washington
Political Leadership in a Partisan Era
Edited by Clodagh Harrington
University of London Press, 2014

This volume examines the array of challenges facing the Obama administration and the president himself. Topics range from how best to manage a ruptured economy to controlling the budget, the green agenda, foreign policy, and the recalibration of U.S. relations with Britain. It also includes sections on presidential leadership, elections, healthcare, and food poverty.

The common theme throughout is the issue of governing in a fractured, unruly political environment, and the accompanying difficulties. Contributing scholars, based at academic institutions in the United States and the UK, offer a range of informed perspectives throughout this engaging work. Packed with detail yet highly accessible, this volume will appeal to those interested in American politics, history, and the political process.

[more]

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One Today
A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration
Richard Blanco
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013
One Today is a commemorative chapbook of Richard Blanco’s inaugural poem, presented January 21, 2013 during President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony.
[more]

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Optimism at All Costs
Black Attitudes, Activism, and Advancement in Obama's America
Lessie B. Branch
University of Massachusetts Press, 2018
In the wake of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential victory, most Americans believed that race relations would improve. While many leaders rallied behind the first black president and the black community felt optimistic on the whole, statistics reveal a decline in black Americans' economic fortunes and a slower recovery from the recession in the years that followed.

Lessie B. Branch confronts the tension between black Americans' economic realities and the hope many felt for the future, looking at survey data alongside the rhetoric of leading black figures, including President Obama. This disparity has caused a dangerous resistance to social activism, as discourses of optimism privilege individual success over the need for collective action. Branch sees the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement as a constructive change in this dynamic. As Americans continue to grapple with complicated questions of race and progress in classrooms, in the media, and in legislatures, this short, provocative book will inform and enrich these important discussions.
[more]

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Out of Many, One
Obama and the Third American Political Tradition
Ruth O'Brien
University of Chicago Press, 2013
Feared by conservatives and embraced by liberals when he entered the White House, Barack Obama has since been battered by criticism from both sides. In Out of Many, One, Ruth O’Brien explains why. We are accustomed to seeing politicians supporting either a minimalist state characterized by unfettered capitalism and individual rights or a relatively strong welfare state and regulatory capitalism. Obama, O’Brien argues, represents the values of a lesser-known third tradition in American political thought that defies the usual left-right categorization.

Bearing traces of Baruch Spinoza, John Dewey, and Saul Alinsky, Obama’s progressivism embraces the ideas of mutual reliance and collective responsibility, and adopts an interconnected view of the individual and the state. So, while Obama might emphasize difference, he rejects identity politics, which can create permanent minorities and diminish individual agency. Analyzing Obama’s major legislative victories—financial regulation, health care, and the stimulus package—O’Brien shows how they reflect a stakeholder society that neither regulates in the manner of the New Deal nor deregulates. Instead, Obama focuses on negotiated rule making and allows executive branch agencies to fill in the details when dealing with a deadlocked Congress. Similarly, his commitment to difference and his resistance to universal mandates underlies his reluctance to advocate for human rights as much as many on the Democratic left had hoped.

By establishing Obama within the context of a much longer and broader political tradition, this book sheds critical light on both the political and philosophical underpinnings of his presidency and a fundamental shift in American political thought.
 

[more]

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Post-Racial or Most-Racial?
Race and Politics in the Obama Era
Michael Tesler
University of Chicago Press, 2016
When Barack Obama won the presidency, many posited that we were entering into a post-racial period in American politics. Regrettably, the reality hasn’t lived up to that expectation. Instead, Americans’ political beliefs have become significantly more polarized by racial considerations than they had been before Obama’s presidency—in spite of his administration’s considerable efforts to neutralize the political impact of race.
           
Michael Tesler shows how, in the years that followed the 2008 election—a presidential election more polarized by racial attitudes than any other in modern times—racial considerations have come increasingly to influence many aspects of political decision making. These range from people’s evaluations of prominent politicians and the parties to issues seemingly unrelated to race like assessments of public policy or objective economic conditions. Some people even displayed more positive feelings toward Obama’s dog, Bo, when they were told he belonged to Ted Kennedy. More broadly, Tesler argues that the rapidly intensifying influence of race in American politics is driving the polarizing partisan divide and the vitriolic atmosphere that has come to characterize American politics.

One of the most important books on American racial politics in recent years, Post-Racial or Most-Racial? is required reading for anyone wishing to understand what has happened in the United States during Obama’s presidency and how it might shape the country long after he leaves office.
[more]

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Power without Constraint
The Post-9/11 Presidency and National Security
Chris Edelson
University of Wisconsin Press, 2016
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama criticized the George W. Bush administration for its unrestrained actions in matters of national security. Yet President Obama has not fulfilled candidate Obama's promise to restore the rule of law and make a clean break with his predecessor.

In Power without Constraint Chris Edelson offers a thorough, extensive comparison of the Bush and Obama administrations' national security policies, arguing that both have asserted more executive authority than previous presidents. He examines once-secret Justice Department memos in which President Bush's officials claimed for the executive branch plenary unilateral authority to use military force in response to threats of terrorism, as well as the power to set aside laws made by Congress, even criminal laws prohibiting torture and warrantless surveillance. He acknowledges that President Obama and his officials have not claimed the authority to set aside criminal laws, relying on softer rhetoric and toned-down legal arguments to advance their policies. But, in key areas—military action, surveillance, and state secrets—they have simply found new ways to assert power without meaningful constitutional or statutory constraints.

Edelson contends that this legacy of the two immediately post-9/11 presidencies raises crucial questions for future presidents, Congress, the courts, and American citizens. Where is the political will to restore a balance of powers among branches of government and adherence to the rule of law? What are the limits of authority regarding presidential national security power? Have national security concerns created a permanent shift to unconstrained presidential power?

[more]

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Starting Today
100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days
Rachel Zucker
University of Iowa Press, 2010
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[more]

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What Happened to Notre Dame?
Charles E. Rice
St. Augustine's Press, 2009


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