New book on Barack Obama examines race and power in America’s political history

Since he was elected President of the US in November 2008, Barack Obama has penned over thirty books about his life and politics; and around forty books have been written by a mixture of biographers, political observers and amateur writers.

There is no doubt that America’s first Black president, as he defines himself, will continue to attract polar responses ranging from hero-worship to harsh criticisms over his foreign policy and perceived lack of action on high unemployment among African Americans.

A new book by Sonia Grant, Before Barack: they said this day would never come, falls somewhere in between. Grant describes her book as “an accessible narrative” that “charts the trials and triumphs of the black presidential candidate,” a familiar theme with previous books on Obama, as are the comparisons with other Black presidential candidates.

Grant argues that America’s history of slavery, segregation, “domestic terrorism” and “race riots” paved the way for Obama’s rise to political stardom but also acknowledges that America has not become a raceless society as some would claim.

According to Grant, whilst Obama’s ascendancy to the White House was both transformative and historic: “centuries of systematic and deep-seated racism still [haunt]” the US.

She describes her book as “a lens through which the confluence of race and power is examined in the context of America’s eventful social and political history,” which is sure to be of interest both to Obama-ites and political observers.


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