So here’s an early review – I am not finished yet – of The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, by David Remnick.
It is an excellent book. It really takes Barack’s memoir, Dreams of My Father, and adds in what all the people around Barack were thinking, the events going on at the same time, the historic trends affecting his story playing out in other parts of the world. Just a treat. I’m halfway through, and have really only objected to 2 words in the Introduction. I’m going to go back and figure out what they were, and why I had a reaction to them.
That Introduction really sets the stage, and explains at least partially the book’s title. Congressman John Lewis, badly beaten (he suffered a fractured skull) by the police as he led a march in 1965 across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama, said on January 19, 2009, just before the Inauguration, that Barack Obama is what comes at the end of that bridge in Selma.
David is obviously a good writer, very even handed, a good story-weaver. Most of the book is from on-the-record interviews with folk close to Barack (like Michelle) and the President himself. It is a book where I keep the Oxford American Dictionary and the Oxford Essential Dictionary of Difficult Words right beside the bed. But it is not a heavy handed attempt to show us how smart the author is – rather, Barack’s complexities require that level of language.
Several friends are already lined up to read it. I am up to the part where he is running for the State Senate in Illinois in 1995. The outlines of his life are already clear, the calmness and clear-headedness, no matter what is going on around him.
It’s also a great book for understanding Hawaii, America, higher education, something about Africa, something about the Obama marriage.
I’m savoring it, instead of dashing through. My friends will have to be patient.