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Book Review: by Lang Reid
Barack Obama -
in his own words
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.
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