Stuart's Reviews > Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition

Reading Obama by James T. Kloppenberg
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's review
Mar 02, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: politics, philosophy
Read from February 24 to March 01, 2011

I loved this book. I've read a lot of Presidential biographies but have avoided biographies of Presidents after Ford. A lot of contemporary political biographies seem either to be books that fawn on their subject or are hit-jobs.

Instead Kloppenberg's "Reading Obama" is an intellectual history not a biography. This book is for you if you really want to understand how our current President thinks. It draws on his influences from the civil rights era, the Founding Fathers, Progressive era, Reconstruction, etc. Also the influence of the debates at the Harvard Law School where Obama was editor of the Harvard Law Review, especially the John Rawls book "A Theory of Justice". Most importantly, the influence of the early century American school of philosophical Pragmatism of John Dewey and William James.

Those on the dogmatic Right who think Obama is a radical Socialist and on the dogmatic Left who think he's a weak minded Centrist would do well to read this book to understand Obama and philosophical pragmatism put into action. If not, there are plenty of other books out there to confirm your preconceptions.

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