obama’s favorites

I’m guessing that Barack Obama’s primary reading material lately has not been the type of thing the rest of us can really relate to — I know briefings on national security and economic policy rarely find their way on to my reading list.  But it appears that, at some point, he did have time to read actual books.  A New York Times columnist wrote about the candidate’s favorite books this past fall.  It turns out he’s a fan of the classics — he lists Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, and Ralph Waldo Emerson among his favorite writers.  Pieces that are of particular significance to him include Toni Morrison’s Songs of Soloman and W.E.B. Du Bois’s Souls of Black Folk.  

I’ve read these authors, but the title he names that I can most appreciate is All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren.  This is a beautifully told story of the political rise and fall of a fictional Southern governor, based on the life of actual Louisiana governor Huey Long.   It’s an incredible novel, with detailed characters, an intricate plot, and intense imagery.  Most importantly though, it captures the evolution of a man from a well-intentioned civil servant to a corrupt, power-hungry politician.  It’s a transition that happens almost without the man’s knowledge, and it is for this reason that this book holds such a powerful message.  Although I have faith in (almost) President Obama’s ability to keep his head on straight, it’s still good to know he’s read this warning tale of what can happen to a leader who loses sight of his reason for being in office in the first place.  

 



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~ by Molly on January 19, 2009.

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