9780691147468

Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780691147468

  • ISBN10:

    0691147469

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-10-11
  • Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr

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Summary

Barack Obama puzzles observers. Derided by the Right as dangerous and by the Left as spineless, Obama does not fit contemporary partisan categories. Instead, his writings and speeches reflect a principled aversion to absolutes that derives from sustained engagement with American democratic thought.Reading Obamatraces the origins of his ideas and establishes him as the most penetrating political thinker elected to the presidency in the past century.James T. Kloppenberg demonstrates the influences that have shaped Obama's distinctive worldview, including Nietzsche and Niebuhr, Ellison and Rawls, and recent theorists engaged in debates about feminism, critical race theory, and cultural norms. Examining Obama's views on the Constitution, slavery and the Civil War, and the New Deal and civil rights, Kloppenberg shows Obama's sophisticated understanding of American history. Obama's interest in compromise, reasoned public debate, and the patient nurturing of civility is a sign of strength, not weakness, Kloppenberg argues. He locates its roots in Madison, Lincoln, and especially in the philosophical pragmatism of William James and John Dewey, which nourished generations of American progressives, black and white, female and male, through much of the twentieth century, albeit with mixed results.Reading Obamareveals the sources of Obama's commitment to democratic deliberation: the books he has read, the visionaries who have inspired him, the social movements and personal struggles that have shaped his thinking. Kloppenberg shows that Obama's positions on social justice, religion, race, family, and America's role in the world do not stem from a desire to please everyone but from deeply rooted--although currently unfashionable--convictions about how a democracy must deal with difference and conflict.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
The Education of Barack Obamap. 1
From Universalism to Particularismp. 85
Obama's American Historyp. 151
Conclusion: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Traditionp. 249
Essay on Sourcesp. 267
Acknowledgmentsp. 287
Indexp. 293
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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