Trish's Reviews > The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama

The Bridge by David Remnick
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's review
May 31, 10

really liked it
bookshelves: biography, nonfiction, politics
Read from April 08 to May 31, 2010

This dense and detailed look at a moment in history when Obama began his run for the White House in the end gives the reader the sense of a blind man running his hands over an elephant, or Galileo gazing at the stars. The detail just makes one jealous to know those things we are not reading about--what was he thinking, not just what he was saying. One wants the man himself, not just the story of him.

In the end, every book about this period is bound to be a disappointment in itself. It cannot capture the utter impossibility of the moment--the day by day disbelief of hearing Obama is still in the race and gaining, rather than losing adherents. Of Obama facing challenges (Reverend Wright) greater than those that had brought down more conventional candidates (Kerry's Swift boat controversy), and emerging even larger than before. It does not tell us, in the end, how this happened.

But among books of the period, this will rank among the best. Remick's calm amidst the forest of details, and clear, thoughtful delivery make him a companionable guide. He is not so casual as to make one doubt his sources, but he does not flaunt his erudition or access. This must be one of the most readable tomes on a time when Americans suprised everyone--even Americans.
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Reading Progress

04/14/2010 page 125
18.6% "This is a dense, but ultimately enlightening uncovering of details of Obama's life. Less like the collective "us" than we may think."
04/19/2010 page 186
27.68% "Whe Obama was in Chicago organizing, watchers imagined he might one day be mayor, if he touched all the bases--state legislature, etc."
04/23/2010 page 213
31.7% "Endlessly fascinating."
04/30/2010 page 313
46.58% "Want to imagine a political life? Here it is...in detail."
05/25/2010 page 526
78.27% "I must admit I am still astonished America pulled out this rout."

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason I'm a fiscal/monetary conservative and a social liberal; it's a tough balance. I've never been overly excited by any Presidential candidate in 22 yrs of voting. I'm a history major and a politics buff. I have a sneaking suspicion that, if Obama only has 1 term, he will be recorded poorly by Presidential historians. So much (self-declared) hope and change, and so, SO average like every other President.


message 2: by Bram (last edited Jun 02, 2010 09:14AM) (new)

Bram Nah, he'll have two terms. No way the Reps will get someone viable out there by 2012. Plus, it's always tough to gauge history in the moment. Having the first major piece of legislation passed in 4 decades is still going to look pretty impressive after much else has been forgotten. And as long as our economy starts moving in a consistently positive direction at some point in the next few years, Obama will get the credit for undoing some of the damage done by W.'s and Clinton's administrations (and same deal if foreign wars scale down/end). I have a hard time believing there's anything that anyone could have done over the last 1.5 years to mitigate the great Recession.


message 3: by Jason (new)

Jason You forget the predictions of the Mayan calendar, my friend. 2012 is the end of the world. Biblical famine, locust, unemployment, high energy costs, another 40% loss in the S&P.

I didn't think anybody could have beaten Hillary, but all of a sudden...

That major piece of legislation will prove to be the entitlement program that breaks our fiscal back. You're about to enter that industry, Bram; I think you're on the short side of the majority medical opinion.

But the hell if I'm going to talk politics. It's all 'sound and fury, signifying nothing.'


message 4: by Bram (last edited Jun 02, 2010 10:40AM) (new)

Bram Haha, great use of Macbeth. Only time will tell re: health care, but there was always going to be a broken back with or without reform. Hopefully the spinal rehab will go better with this bill (which, for the record, I think is pretty weak but maybe/probably better than nothing), but again, hard to say at this point.


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