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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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