The Promise: President Obama, Year One

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9781442334458: The Promise: President Obama, Year One
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*EXCLUSIVE BONUS MATERIAL: In a rare and fascinating opportunity to hear an author – and a president – at work, the audiobook includes an exclusive recording of Jonathan Alter interviewing President Obama in the Oval Office on November 30th, 2009, a wide-ranging, half-hour conversation in which the president looks back on his first ten months in office, notes some of his accomplishments and challenges, reflects on the political environment of the day, and much more.

Alter, who writes and reports on national politics for Newsweek and NBC, comes from a politically involved Chicago family. He knows well the environment from which Obama launched his campaign for the senate and the presidency. Alter first met Obama when he visited the family as it sat shiva for one of its members.

Alter takes the listener into the inner circles of Obama’s intimates, those who were there from the start, and the gradually expanding circles, and to show for the first time the emotions, rivalries, alliances of the extremely tight-lipped and disciplined administration: Biden, whom he chose because he had the experience even though he was not an early supporter, Hillary, whom he had long wanted for Secretary of State.

There are stunning portraits of his oldest friends, including Valerie Jarrett, and his early supporters; the Kennedys, Daschle, and of the more volatile newcomers, Rahm of course, and Larry Summers, and Geitner.

Watch the president dominate his Cabinet with silences and stares (instead of shouting like Clinton or LBJ). Add to that the knowledge that leaking can lose you your job. (One advisor called Obama, “The most unsentimental man I have ever known.”)

Obama is, in this portrait, self-aware and shrewd, well organized and confident, a natural leader who doesn’t need or crave praise and is not given to spreading it around. (One intimate notes his praise is more likely to be “What’s next?” than “Good job.”) Nevertheless he is equable and attentive, and he listens. (It’s one of his techniques.) In fact, if one doesn't have anything to say at his meetings, you may not be invited back.

Alter characterizes Obama as a deductive thinker, and a fast one—eager for action. It is said that Clinton’s meetings always ran on too long and that Obama’s may be too short.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Alter is a senior editor at Newsweek, where, since 1991, he has written an acclaimed column on politics, history, media, and society at large. He is also an analyst and contributing correspondent for NBC News. Alter lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and three children.

From AudioFile:

As both a political history and an in-depth biography, this book is an important first draft in assessing the Obama presidency. Many other writings will follow this one, but they will have a hard time matching the energy and reporting quality that the author brings to this work. It would be nice to say that Jonathan Alter is as effective a narrator as he is an author, but that's not the case. Alter's scratchy, hoarse voice is more of a distraction than an attribute. He reads his own words well, but that's all he does. There's little emotion in his voice, and he doesn't do justice to the charismatic man he's written about. R.I.G. AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine

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ISBN 10:  1439101191 ISBN 13:  9781439101193
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2010

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Jonathan Alter
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio (2010)
ISBN 10: 1442334452 ISBN 13: 9781442334458
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