What is Obama Reading?

Obama112508.jpgIt starts already: the first photo of President-elect Obama clutching a book (the first such photo as far as we know) features Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer by Fred Kaplan (Harper), which was published just last month. The AP shot showed Obama leaving the Chicago home of friend Penny Pritzker after having dinner this past Saturday.Kaplan is a former professor of English at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of several biographies, including The Singular Mark Twain, Gore Vidal, Henry James: The Imagination of Genius, Charles Dickens and Thomas Carlyle. – Source: Shelf Awareness, Nov, 26, 2008.

In his 60 Minutes interview on Sunday Barack Obama mentioned he’s reading two books about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. One, about FDR’s history-shaping first 100 days, is Jonathan Alter’s The Defining Moment: F.D.R’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope. The other: Jean Edward Smith’s brilliant FDR.

Barack Obama’s election is a milestone in more than his pigmentation. The second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.

Maybe, just maybe, the result will be a step away from the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life. Smart and educated leadership is no panacea, but we’ve seen recently that the converse — a White House that scorns expertise and shrugs at nuance — doesn’t get very far either.

We can’t solve our educational challenges when, according to polls, Americans are approximately as likely to believe in flying saucers as in evolution, and when one-fifth of Americans believe that the sun orbits the Earth. Source: The New York Times: Obama and the War on Brains by Nicholas Kristoff

also: FDR Books on Obama’s Nightstand, Chicago Tribune

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