An adoring and unquestioning celebration of Obama’s presidency.



A concise and laudatory overview of Barack Obama’s presidency.

An alumnus of Morehouse College, Wilson (It’s Cotton Blossom Time, 2010, etc.) “always thought that if any black scholar should become President of the United States of America, it would be a Morehouse College graduate. Nobody else is qualified.” In that spirit, the centrality of Morehouse to African American experience (including a nearly 30-page overview of its distinguished graduates) is a theme in this otherwise eclectic tribute to President Barack Obama (a graduate of Columbia and Harvard Law School). At first dismissive of Obama’s swift rise to fame, Wilson soon changed his mind and in this book offers an unconventional biography of a man he loves: a basic sketch of Obama’s life and work through short essays, poetry, revealing vignettes from Obama’s time in the White House, and reproductions of his most important speeches. The book is at its best when Wilson evokes the pride African Americans nationwide felt about having a black family at their nation’s helm. In his reflections on one of Obama’s inaugural balls, for example, Wilson describes the “enchanted moment” of watching Barack and Michelle dance to Motown classics. Though accomplished first ladies had appeared at earlier balls, “nothing could replace the black beauty of Michelle.” Other musings deal with Obama’s athleticism, humor, love of food, religion, and other cultural markers that made him not just a personally beloved, but distinctly black president. In 2013, Obama received an honorary degree from Morehouse, proudly joining Wilson’s illustrious list of “Morehouse Men.” Obama’s fans, particularly those drawn to his roots in the African American experience, can revel in the author’s passionate poetry and prose that is constant in its affirmations of Obama. Some, however, may find the work too hagiographic, refusing to even acknowledge criticisms of Obama from the philosopher Cornel West (and other within African American community) for his close ties to Wall Street, his handling of immigration, and foreign policies that some see as militaristic.

An adoring and unquestioning celebration of Obama’s presidency.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982211-66-0

Page Count: 138

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2020

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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