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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Barack Obama - in his own words

The American people have spent the last year debating the pros and cons of Barack Obama, the senator who overthrew Hillary Clinton, initially the odds-on favorite to be the presidential candidate for the Democrat party in the US. However, as the history shows, she was dethroned by Barack Obama, and between now and November 2008 you can expect a flurry of activity on the Bookazine bookshelves with Obama books, as everyone wants to cash in on the tide of hysteria.
One such book is Barack Obama - in his own words (ISBN 978-0-78672-057-6, edited by Lisa Rogak, and published by Carroll and Graf, 2007). The front cover promises that the candidate speaks on everything from abortion to the Middle East, while the back cover suggested that this book would “allow those who aren’t as familiar with his politics to learn quickly where he stands on a range of issues.”
Undoubtedly this book does give the reader a very quick primer on the Obama policies and thoughts, but one should never forget that quotes taken out of context may give a different shade to the meaning. Lisa Rogak who has edited the quotes has done what appears to be a fairly workmanlike approach and does not show any apparent bias. He is even quoted as saying, “I can’t really spend a lot of time worrying about how my words are interpreted. All I can do is to make those words as true as possible.” It appears that an honest politician isn’t an oxymoron after all!
So to some of the topics and his words. On his politics: “My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington.” (Oprah Winfrey Show October 18, 2006.) Unfortunately, this smacks of a speech writer’s attempts at reinventing the JFK “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” speech.
On his popularity: “Andy Warhol said we all get our fifteen minutes of fame. I’ve already had an hour and a half. I’m so overexposed, I’m making Paris Hilton look like a recluse.” (Sunday Times magazine November 5, 2006.)
On George W Bush: “We all remember that George Bush said in the 2000 campaign that he was against nation-building. We just didn’t know he was talking about this one.” (Speech June 14 2006.) I can imagine this humorous line brought the house down.
On the oil problem(s): “Saying that America is addicted to oil without following a real plan for energy independence is like admitting alcoholism and then skipping the 12-step program.” (Chicago Tribune April 3 2006.)
At B. 450 this is hefty for a slim volume at only 166 pages; however, it does as it promised and does work well as a primer for the non-Americans amongst us. Of course, there is the problem that people such as Obama will employ a small army of speech writers, and it is difficult to know if the inherent humor is Obama’s or his writer’s. This book will not show you that. I am not sure, however, that I would actually buy it.