Monday, April 19, 2010

Renegade: The Making of a President

Book Club... And Then Some!

 Renegade: The Making of a President
by Richard Wolffe

Book Review by
Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

Whether you followed the 2008 election campaign or not, whether you were a Barack Obama supporter or not, this an outstanding narrative worth reading. If you enjoy politics and, especially, if you find “behind the scenes” stories and revelations both interesting and entertaining, this book will hold your attention. Wolffe, a writer for Newsweek and a political analyst for MSNBC, is a lively, well-informed, clear, and concise writer. The insights into the political campaign, the twists and turns that Obama’s team negotiated, and the way his public and private obsession with Hillary Clinton wove in and out during all aspects of the campaign, make for fascinating—even compelling—reading. If you are a political junkie, or if you’ve enjoyed such writing as Theodore White’s The Making of a President, you will hold Wolffe’s book in high regard.

It is fortunate for readers that Wolffe adds his own asides and insights throughout the book, just as he does in his commentaries on MSNBC, and the additional bits of humor, along with the indented quotations, direct dialogue quoted from members of the Obama campaign staff (in addition to dialogue by Obama himself), and the expressions of feelings and emotions all add to the clear characterizations you acquire of the primary characters of his campaign: Michelle Obama, David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs, Valerie Jarrett, Marty Nesbitt, David Plouffe, Pete Rouse, and Eric Whitaker.

What is amazing about this book is first, how he was encouraged to write it by Barack Obama himself. Second, how much access he had to the future president. Wolffe was “one of a small handful of reporters to have a front-row seat from the very beginning: from his announcement in Springfield, to a summer and winter in Iowa, through the white-knuckle ride of the primates and the heavyweight contest of the general” (p. 329).

Wolffe “spent the best part of a year inside campaign planes, buses, and hotels” (p. 335). Insights, observations, and author’s conclusions were based on enormous amounts of time within the campaign itself. Wolffe writes in the acknowledgments, “...Barack Obama gave his time expansively, shared his thoughts freely, and planted the seeds of this book” (p. 335). There would be no way this book could come into existence without this.

If you do not know or haven’t known who Barack Obama is, why he thinks or acts like he does, or what his plans are for the future (clearly expressed and repeatedly highlighted throughout the campaign), there is no point in guessing. Read this book. Yes, it is about the 2008 presidential campaign, but it just as surely about the man himself. It is a terrific book!

Get the book now at  Renegade: The Making of a President

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