Book Review: The Black Presidency, by Michael Eric Dyson

This review originally ran in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

The Black Presidency offers a nuanced analysis of the politics of race in the U.S. in the context of Barack Obama's presidency.

In The Black Presidency, Michael Eric Dyson offers a nuanced analysis of the politics of race in the U.S., particularly how they have shaped and been shaped by the two terms of Barack Obama. As Dyson writes in the introduction, the book is intended to explore "our racial limits and possibilities, our tortured past and our complicated present, our moral conflicts and aspirations, our cherished national myths, and our contradictory political behavior."

Using Obama's own words--from campaign speeches, press conferences and an interview granted specifically for this book--as well as many writings, comments and records from politicians, journalists and civil rights leaders, Dyson places Obama's presidency squarely in the context of history. He sheds light not only on what it takes to become the first black president of the United States, but also what it takes to be a black president in the United States, touching on everything from Obama's rhetoric to his "scolding" of black America to his relationship to the generations of black leaders that came before him.

Dyson, author of Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster and a political analyst for MSNBC, endorsed Obama in 2007, but The Black Presidency is by no means a one-sided look at the president's two terms in office. Instead, the book doles out support as readily as it doles out criticisms, resulting in an insightful and interesting study of race and politics, and the very public convergence of the two during Barack Obama's stay in the White House.


Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy of this title for review.

The Black Presidency | Michael Eric Dyson | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | February 2016 | Hardcover | Buy from an independent bookstore near you

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