A few things jumped out as I read a sample chapter from Sen. Barack Obama’s new book, released Friday to hype it at the big booksellers convention taking place in Washington.
It’s titled The Audacity of Hope: Reclaiming the American Dream, and will be published in October.
Obama is still working on the final edits of the book, which follows his best-selling Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, for which he won a Grammy for best spoken word album.
The marketing plan for the book is not complete, but it is safe to say that he will be in great demand by every top-tier print, broadcast and cable outlet once it comes out.
The fall publication will come after Obama makes his first visit to Africa since becoming a senator — including a homecoming of sorts in his father’s native Kenya in late August — and before the November elections.
With this new chapter of his life, Obama’s already high visibility will spike up even higher.
A lot we have in common, he says
On Thursday morning, the editor of a glossy magazine, Men’s Vogue, and his assistant showed Obama layouts of a glamorous Sen. Hillary Clinton magazine spread. They were working on a story about Obama to be pegged to the launch of his book.
“We’ll work with you on all this,” Obama told editor Jay Fielden.
Obama’s 18-page excerpt — he’s not sure yet where in the book it will be placed — is intended to provide a flavor of what is to come when he talked this morning at Book Expo in Washington, the country’s largest convention of booksellers, sponsored by the American Booksellers Association.
He also sent the excerpt to the tens of thousands of supporters on his political e-mail list.
“The basic premise is we spend a lot of time in our politics talking about the things that divide us,” Obama told me when we talked about his book Thursday.
“But it turns out in fact that there are a lot of things that we have in common as Americans.
“So my basic premise is that on basic issues of faith or race or foreign policy or the economy, that if we start with recognizing what we have in common, then in fact we can arrive at a politics that is not as partisan and a little more productive.”
In the chapter made public, it comes through that Obama is still a little annoyed that his 2004 Senate primary and general election races in Illinois did not get the credit he thinks they deserve for being substantive, thoughtful and positive.
Obama was blessed by his rivals: Democrat Blair Hull among the primary contenders and Republican Jack Ryan in the general election. Messy divorces did them both in. Ryan was replaced by Alan Keyes, imported from Maryland, an ultraconservative demagogue who ended up alienating and embarrassing Illinois Republicans.
But Obama soon sails past this slight.
‘A different kind of politics’
“There was no point in denying my almost spooky good fortune,” he writes of his commanding victories, slipping into a narrative that combines some first-person insights about his freshman year.
He issues a call for “a different kind of politics than what we have now,” and seems frustrated as he writes that he finds it “hard to shake the feeling these days that our democracy has gone seriously awry.”
For the rest, we’ll just have to wait.
Lynn Sweet is the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.
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