Shelf Life Book news, reviews, trends, and talk

Tag: Barack Obama (11-20 of 21)

'O' author revealed to be McCain speechwriter

O-Mark-SalterImage Credit: Jeff Chiu/AP ImagesO, what a trip it’s been. Less than a month after politicos and journalists got themselves all frothed up over an Amazon.com posting for the anonymously written O: A Presidential Novel, the author has been unmasked. Mark Halperin of Time has confirmed that John McCain aide and speechwriter Mark Salter is the pen behind the work of speculative semi-fiction. Well, that was certainly quicker than with Primary Colors: Scribe Joe Klein managed to elude identification for about seven months back in 1996 when that anonymous political novel was published. Salter and Simon & Schuster head Jonathan Karp have yet to confirm this revelation.

Top-Secret Obama novel excerpts: The President loves golf, hates voters, is attracted to Sarah Palin

O: A Presidential Novel is a novel that claims to explore “some resonant truths about what President Obama is thinking” through the veil of fiction. Because the author of O has remained anonymous, comparisons abound to Primary Colors, the Joe Klein novel about a Clinton-esque politician that was published anonymously. But Simon & Schuster is aiming a little bit higher with O. “By choosing anonymity,” writes Publisher Jonathan Karp over at the book’s website, “our author is following in the tradition of Jane Austen, the Brontës, The Federalist Papers, The Story of O, and, of course, Lemony Snicket.” So, just to clear things up, the author of O is remaining anonymous because they don’t want readers to know they’re a woman, because they want to influence the ratification of the Constitution, because O is a sadomasochistic novel that savagely deconstructs French sexual mores, and also because they want O to appeal to children. Who’s excited? READ FULL STORY

Mysterious Obama-based novel gets a cover and will be set in the future

OThere has already been much hubbub over O: A Presidential Novel, the book that mysteriously appeared on Amazon earlier this month, and about which little is known other than it’s unlikely to have anything to do with this or this. On the Amazon product page, the author is listed as “Anonymous,” leading a few political prognosticators to think that it would be something akin to the 1996 Clinton-in-all-but-name novel Primary Colors, except about President Barack Obama. Now the publisher has released a cover image and a little more information: For one, the events depicted will take place in the future.

According to Simon & Schuster, it is “a novel about aspiration and delusion, set during the presidential election of 2012 and written by an anonymous author who has spent years observing politics and the fraught relationship between public image and self-regard” and the author has “has been in the room with Barack Obama and wishes to remain anonymous.” So straight off the bat it doesn’t appear that it will be as much of a straight political roman á clef as a speculative work of semi-fiction, albeit one that will center around the current president. And it will undoubtedly set pundits pondering for at least a little while as to the identity of the author. O: A Presidential Novel is set to release on January 25.

New 'Archie' comic reveals Archie is pro-Obama, arch-enemy Reggie is a Sarah Palin fan

The new Archie Comics, released on Wednesday, finds the red-headed hero and his girlfriend Veronica talking environmental issues with President Obama. Meanwhile, Archie’s long-time rival, the rich-kid Reggie Mantle III, gets his picture taken with Sarah Palin. Both political alliances are used for Archie and Reggie to further their campaigns for student-body president.

In the final panel of Archie issue #616, Obama and Palin are each depicted as holding up different front pages of the Riverdale school newspaper, each of which implies that Obama and Palin have endorsed Archie and Reggie, respectively. Obama and Palin yell angrily, in unison, “Who’s responsible for this!?” READ FULL STORY

Tea Party hero Christine O'Donnell signs book deal

Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party politician whose campaign for the U.S. Senate in the state of Delaware was overshadowed by her years-old comments about witchcraft, has signed a book deal with St. Martin’s Press, according to the Associated Press. O’Donnell, who was endorsed by Sarah Palin, was a surprise winner of the Republican primary but lost the general election to Democrat Chris Coons. The book intends to share her “frustrations” with the political process.

President Obama pens children's book

of-thee-i-singImage Credit: Janet Mayer/PR PhotosHe’s leader of the free world–and a now he’s a children’s book author, too. Random House will publish President Barack Obama’s Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters on November 16. The book, illustrated by award-winning author and illustrator Loren Long, pays homage to 13 groundbreaking Americans including George Washington, Jackie Robinson, and Georgia O’Keefe.

Random House declined to comment, but president and publisher Chip Gibson said in a press release he was honored to publish the book: “[It's] an inspiring marriage of words and images, history and story. Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans–the potential to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths.”

Obama, inspired by his daughters Sasha and Malia, completed the manuscript for Of Thee I Sing before entering office in 2009. The best part of the book’s release? All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to a scholarship fund for the children of fallen and disabled soldiers serving our nation.

Will you be buying this book for your kids, Shelf Lifers? And any guesses as to who the other 10 Americans are acknowledged in the book? And anyone else now have My Country, ‘Tis of Thee now stuck in their head? Share them in the comments.


Is Nelson Mandela's memoir 'Conversations With Myself' Oprah's new book club pick?

Conversations-with-MyselfOprah Winfrey won’t officially announce her 64th book club selection until Sept. 17, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be Conversations With Myself, a memoir of Nobel winner Nelson Mandela assembled from journals, diaries, letters, and records of private conversations that he kept over the course of his storied life as an activist turned prisoner turned president of South Africa. A rep for the book had no comment, but here’s my thinking:

The subject matter seems very Oprah-friendly. The talk-show giant has a long-standing connection to Africa, where she’s built several schools for girls. And she’s selected several African-themed books for her club before, including Alan Paton’s novel Cry, the Beloved Country and Uwem Akpan’s story collection Say You’re One of Them (her 2009 selection).

It’s a memoir by an historical figure, with a presidential imprimatur to boot. We know that Oprah has a thing for memoirs by famous people recounting historical events, from Elie Weisel’s Night to Sidney Poitier’s The Measure of a Man. (Best not to mention her brief, much-regretted dalliance with a memoir by a regular joe named James Frey.) Mandela’s book already boasts a foreword by Barack Obama, which may make an Oprah endorsement seem like just so much frosting on the best-seller cake.

The timing and the price are right. Conversations is due to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on Oct. 11, just a few weeks after the book club announcement, so mass-shipping the title a week or two early wouldn’t be a logistical challenge. Plus, the book retails for $28 — and we already know from booksellers that the new pick is a $28 book from FSG parent Macmillan (which suggests that it’s a new release that’s not a title already available in paperback).

After scouring online book retailers, I turned up roughly a dozen titles from Macmillan imprints such as Henry Holt and Farrar, Straus and Giroux that retail at that price. (Another Macmillan imprint, St. Martin’s, generally doesn’t price books at even dollar amounts.) One of FSG’s $28 books, as other commentators have noted, is Jonathan Franzen’s much-ballyhooed novel Freedom. But after Winfrey’s fallout with the author over The Corrections nine years ago, the chance of her choosing Freedom seems about as likely as Nicholas Sparks winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Other $28 Macmillan titles include: Wait for Me!, a memoir by Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire; Joan Biskupic’s American Original, a biography of Antonin Scalia; Mark Wyman’s Hoboes; James Schuyler’s poetry collection Other Flowers; and Michael Caine’s memoir The Elephant of Hollywood.

I’m sticking with my guess: This fall, a lot of us will be reading a lot about the anti-apartheid movement, the prison on Robben Island, and the struggle for true democracy in South Africa.

Bob Woodward Announces Title of his Obama Book

Obamas-WarsSimon & Schuster announced today that Bob Woodward’s 16th book, Obama’s Wars, will be released on September 27. The book will concentrate not on the economy but on the president’s foreign policy. The 441-page investigative work will show Obama “making the critical decisions on the Afghanistan War, the secret war in Pakistan and the worldwide fight against terrorism,” Simon & Schuster announced. An official with knowledge of the book says that Woodward finished writing three weeks ago and that the book will include little on the war in Iraq.

Since winning a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Watergate with fellow Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, Woodward has remained an investigative force in Washington D.C., known for his access to top White House information. He wrote four best-sellers on the George W. Bush administration, focusing on foreign policy and the war on terror. As he did with those books, Woodward will draw upon internal memos, documents, and interviews with top sources–including President Obama–for this latest title.

The cover of Obama’s Wars was also unveiled in the Tuesday announcement, and prominently features a profile shot of Obama looking forward with a focused gaze, and key foreign policy players, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the bottom.

What do you think, Shelf-Lifers? Will you be reading Obama’s War?

'Game Change': The authors discuss politics as unusual

The 2008 presidential election was historic both in terms of the nature of its candidates and its near-complete level of media saturation, but political journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann somehow managed to put together a campaign book chock full of behind-the-scenes details, often juicy, that were overlooked the first go-round. That book, Game Change (click to see the EW review), quickly became a best-seller, demonstrating that over 15 months later, we as a nation are still captivated by that year-long mad rush towards the White House. The two authors spoke with EW about doing hundreds of interviews, how they deal with accusations of gossip-peddling, and their exhaustive attempts to report all the fear and loathing on the campaign trail.

Why do you think so many people are still interested in this particular election, over a year later, even though they know the ending?

John: We started out with a notion as we were covering the campaign that this was an unusual election on a lot of different levels, but it was unusual in particular in that the candidates who were front-and-center were bigger-than-life characters. You had here people who were more interesting than your average politician. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, these are all people who had celebrity stature. We often like to joke that any race where Rudy Giuliani is the seventh most interesting person is a pretty colorful race. And we thought that all the historic circumstances around the campaign in combination with these characters who had clearly riveted the country in a way that we hadn’t seen before in a presidential election, we thought that there was some chance, that if we rendered the high human drama of what it was like to go through it, and how it changed them, and how the strengths and weaknesses in their characters affected the outcome, that people would, a year later, still have some interest in it, if we did our jobs right.

In the prologue you say that it’s essentially a love story between Obama and Clinton. But parts almost feel like a Greek tragedy…

Mark: We hoped to write a book that wouldn’t be seen as a political book that only people in the beltway would read. What we thought was that these were bigger-than-life figures, many of them iconic, and there was a lot of tragedy and comedy and high drama that, if we told the story right, would reveal these famous people but in a brand-new way. READ FULL STORY

Game Change: The EW Review

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Game Change, but it wasn’t this: a rollicking, profane, funny, incredibly detailed account of the 2008 campaign. Here’s my review:

Journalists, pundits, and bloggers have all chewed over the 2008 presidential campaign so thoroughly, so relentlessly, that there would seem to be little meat left on the bone. But two veteran political reporters – New York magazine’s John Heilemann and Time’s Mark Halperin — have found plenty of fresh dish, and they’ve served it up in Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime.

What makes their book different from others, and so riveting, is the depth of their material–some of it obtained the old-fashioned way, through dogged investigative reporting, and some of it courtesy of their innumerable sources, such as Patti Solis Doyle, Hillary Clinton’s onetime campaign manager. But don’t be fooled: This is no dry history. In fact, in places it reads less like a campaign memoir than like a Jackie Collins novel, packed with seamy details about extramarital sex and screaming arguments. Its pages brim with scandalous tidbits: John Edwards refuses to take responsibility for Rielle Hunter, demanding furiously of a young aide, “Why didn’t you come to me like a  f—-ing man and tell me to stop f—ing her?” Elizabeth Edwards, furious at her husband’s infidelity, dramatically rips open her shirt in an airport, and calls a staffer in the middle of the night: “Get me out of here! I’m not campaigning for this a–hole another day!” John McCain alternately screams obscenities at his wife, Cindy, and refuses to take any interest in the nuts and bolts of his campaign: “He really just didn’t give a s—. The details made his head hurt.” Barack Obama sometimes comes off as moody and difficult, at times almost undone by his cocky self-assurance. “I’m LeBron, baby,” he once told a reporter. “I can play on this level. I got some game.” Interestingly, the one person you’d expect would fare poorly here–vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin–gets a pass. Though the authors duly report that “some in the upper echelons of McCainworld began to believe that Palin was unfit for higher office,” they say bluntly that “the McCain people did fail [her]…. They amassed polling points and dollars off her fiery charisma, and then left her to burn up in the inferno of public opinion.”

Game Change isn’t perfect. The authors obviously have sources in pretty high places (a couple of conversations between the Clintons are recounted verbatim, including a fascinating one on a beach in Anguilla), but without a bibliography, it’s hard to identify them all. (That said, there are a lot more people on the record here than in, say, a Bob Woodward book.) The tone can shift, a little disconcertingly, from elegant description to profanity-laced staccato in the space of a line or two (people are constantly going rips— or apes—. There’s a lot of s— in Game Change). And Heilemann and Halperin are guilty of some pretty mean-spirited caricature, even if it is dead-on. Clinton is “resplendent in fire engine red and wearing a rictus grin” at one event; Rudy Giuliani, when challenged, “would bare his cartoonishly big teeth.” But these are pretty minor quibbles. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the cutthroat backroom hows and whys of a presidential campaign — especially this presidential campaign, filled as it was with scene-stealing characters and bad behavior, and memorable for all kinds of reasons that had nothing to do with Obama’s skin color and everything to do with his impeccably run grassroots organization. And it doesn’t hurt that Game Change reads more bodice-ripper than Beltway. A-


Latest Videos in Books

Advertisement

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP