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(See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/06). Ann Kim Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Ilinois's Democratic senator illuminates the constraints of mainstream politics all too well in this sonorous manifesto. Obama (Dreams from My Father) castigates divisive partisanship (especially the Republican brand) and calls for a centrist politics based on broad American values. His own cautious liberalism is a model: he's skeptical of big government and of Republican tax cuts for the rich and Social Security privatization; he's prochoice, but respectful of prolifers; supportive of religion, but not of imposing it. The policy result is a tepid Clintonism, featuring tax credits for the poor, a host of small-bore programs to address everything from worker retraining to teen pregnancy, and a health-care program that resembles Clinton's Hillary-care proposals. On Iraq, he floats a phased but open-ended troop withdrawal. His triangulated positions can seem conflicted: he supports free trade, while deploring its effects on American workers (he opposed the Central American Free Trade Agreement), in the end hoping halfheartedly that more support for education, science and renewable energy will see the economy through the dilemmas of globalization. Obama writes insightfully, with vivid firsthand observations, about politics and the compromises forced on politicians by fund-raising, interest groups, the media and legislative horse-trading. Alas, his muddled, uninspiring proposals bear the stamp of those compromises. (Oct. 17) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
'Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois and the Democratic Party's new rock star, is that rare politician who can actually write-and write movingly and genuinely about himself.' New York Times 'A book that...will give believers in the potential of America much heart, much hope.' Age 'He is one of the best writers to enter modern politics.' Newsweek 'Obama writes convincingly about race as well as the lofty place the Constitution holds in American life...He writes tenderly about family and knowingly about faith. Readers, no matter what their party affiliation, may experience the oddly uplifting sensation of comparing the everyday contemptuous view of politics that circulates so widely in our civic conversations with the practical idealism set down by this slender, smiling, 45-year-old former state legislator who is included on virtually every credible list of future presidential contenders.' Los Angeles Times 'The first term Democratic senator from Illinois has created a voice that reaches out from the page and draws you in, just as he does in person.' Australian Literary Review