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Publishers WeeklyBarack Obama was heralded as the next Lincoln before he was even elected. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize without actually having achieved peace anywhere (even in places such as Afghanistan, where peace would be arguably under his control). Cobb has written a lyrical ode to Obama's symbolism: the first black president; the "hip" biracial outsider; the logical successor to Martin Luther King, Jr. Ironically, the book and the President both lack results. Cobb writes beautifully, but he often gets lost in the Obama myth. He's at his most compelling when he leaves the poetry for the pulpit and lets the professor in him take charge (noting, for instance, Obama's astute political calculations, like cutting ties with Jeremiah Wright). Yet his analysis is anything but erudite; Cobb often references pop culture. "In 2002," he recalls, "reporters asked Denzel Washington what it meant for three African Americans to be in contention for the Academy Award. He replied, 'It means that three African Americans are in contention for the Academy Award.' I am tempted to answer the question about the meaning of the black presidency with the same terms." While more hope than substance, Cobb's book is still an eloquent meditation on the meaning of the Obama presidency, all 18 months of it.
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