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For acclaimed historian William Jelani Cobb, the historic election of Barack Obama to the presidency is not the most remarkable development of the 2008 election; even more so is the fact that Obama won some 90 percent of the black vote in the primaries across America despite the fact that the established black leadership since the civil rights era-men like Jesse Jackson, J For acclaimed historian William Jelani Cobb, the historic election of Barack Obama to the presidency is not the most remarkable development of the 2008 election; even more so is the fact that Obama won some 90 percent of the black vote in the primaries across America despite the fact that the established black leadership since the civil rights era-men like Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, Andrew Young, who paved the way for his candidacy-all openly supported Hillary Clinton. Clearly a sea change has occurred among black voters, ironically pushing the architects of the civil rights movement toward the periphery at the moment when their political dreams were most fully realized.How this has happened, and the powerful implications it holds for America's politics and social landscape, is the focus of "The Substance of Hope," a deeply insightful, paradigm-shifting examination of a new generation of voters that has not been shaped by the raw memory of Jim Crow and has a different range of imperatives. Cobb sees Obama's ascendancy as "a reality that has been taking shape in tiny increments for the past four decades," and examines thorny issues such as the paradox and contradictions embodied in race and patriotism, identity and citizenship; how the civil rights leadership became a political machine; why the term "postracial" is as iniquitous as it is inaccurate; and whether our society has really changed with Obama's election.Elegantly written and powerfully argued, "The Substance of Hope "challenges conventional wisdom as it offers original insight into America's future.


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For acclaimed historian William Jelani Cobb, the historic election of Barack Obama to the presidency is not the most remarkable development of the 2008 election; even more so is the fact that Obama won some 90 percent of the black vote in the primaries across America despite the fact that the established black leadership since the civil rights era-men like Jesse Jackson, J For acclaimed historian William Jelani Cobb, the historic election of Barack Obama to the presidency is not the most remarkable development of the 2008 election; even more so is the fact that Obama won some 90 percent of the black vote in the primaries across America despite the fact that the established black leadership since the civil rights era-men like Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, Andrew Young, who paved the way for his candidacy-all openly supported Hillary Clinton. Clearly a sea change has occurred among black voters, ironically pushing the architects of the civil rights movement toward the periphery at the moment when their political dreams were most fully realized.How this has happened, and the powerful implications it holds for America's politics and social landscape, is the focus of "The Substance of Hope," a deeply insightful, paradigm-shifting examination of a new generation of voters that has not been shaped by the raw memory of Jim Crow and has a different range of imperatives. Cobb sees Obama's ascendancy as "a reality that has been taking shape in tiny increments for the past four decades," and examines thorny issues such as the paradox and contradictions embodied in race and patriotism, identity and citizenship; how the civil rights leadership became a political machine; why the term "postracial" is as iniquitous as it is inaccurate; and whether our society has really changed with Obama's election.Elegantly written and powerfully argued, "The Substance of Hope "challenges conventional wisdom as it offers original insight into America's future.

30 review for The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I love Jelani Cobb and I had no idea he'd written this book. It is a really really good account of Obama's relationship with the Black establishment, the Black church and the Black community. It's such a complex and thoughtful explorations of the tensions of his presidency and lives up to Cobb's reputation for superb prose that gets to the heart of the thing. I love Jelani Cobb and I had no idea he'd written this book. It is a really really good account of Obama's relationship with the Black establishment, the Black church and the Black community. It's such a complex and thoughtful explorations of the tensions of his presidency and lives up to Cobb's reputation for superb prose that gets to the heart of the thing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Raymond

    Don't let this book fool you, it may be small but its packed with so much history and political commentary that you forget it is less than 200 pages. I hope Cobb writes a sequel to this book after Obama's tenure in the White House. I highly recommend this book. Don't let this book fool you, it may be small but its packed with so much history and political commentary that you forget it is less than 200 pages. I hope Cobb writes a sequel to this book after Obama's tenure in the White House. I highly recommend this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eddie

    Pleasantly Surprised The Substance of Hope is an enlightening book on Barack Obama's campaign and election as it relates to race and politics. Through interviews and his experiences on the Obama campaign trail, William Jelani Cobb offers a candid assessment of, among other things: the events surrounding the Reverend Jeremiah Wright situation, the role of Reverend Jesse Jackson plus various black clergy and civil rights leaders, and the comparisons between Obama and FDR and Lincoln. Cobb deftly tac Pleasantly Surprised The Substance of Hope is an enlightening book on Barack Obama's campaign and election as it relates to race and politics. Through interviews and his experiences on the Obama campaign trail, William Jelani Cobb offers a candid assessment of, among other things: the events surrounding the Reverend Jeremiah Wright situation, the role of Reverend Jesse Jackson plus various black clergy and civil rights leaders, and the comparisons between Obama and FDR and Lincoln. Cobb deftly tackles the notion that the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President signifies the end of racism and that we now live in a post-racial society. "He is a president, not an antidote." (p.174). Indeed, it is a paradox of progress. [paperback edition]

  4. 5 out of 5

    Richard Subber

    Cobb tells us much (from his vantage point in 2010) that is good about Barack Obama’s presidency, and much that is still unfinished after Barack Obama’s presidency. An excerpt from Cobb’s conclusion in The Substance of Hope: “We live our lives in literal terms, not metaphorical ones…Obama…is a president, not an antidote. We are not postracial; we are not postpartisan. We are American, with all the unwieldy, contradictory implications of that identity…His election is best understood as a passing re Cobb tells us much (from his vantage point in 2010) that is good about Barack Obama’s presidency, and much that is still unfinished after Barack Obama’s presidency. An excerpt from Cobb’s conclusion in The Substance of Hope: “We live our lives in literal terms, not metaphorical ones…Obama…is a president, not an antidote. We are not postracial; we are not postpartisan. We are American, with all the unwieldy, contradictory implications of that identity…His election is best understood as a passing respite, a brief moment of rest before it falls to us to once again turn our shoulder to the wheel of history.” Read more of my book reviews and poems here: www.richardsubber.com

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shenard Robinson

    Jelani Cobb provides in-depth analysis of Barack Obama’s message of Hope during both the election cycle and his inaugural term placing into the context that helped to shape the Obama presidency as well as the aspiring administrations messaging through such examples as Obama’s public split with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Thoroughly enjoyed the read!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Thurston Hunger

    I like the way this man writes. And more so, I appreciate the way he thinks. Much respect to him, and to "First Blacks" everywhere. By the way, read this after seeing his work in the "Policing the Police" documentary. I like the way this man writes. And more so, I appreciate the way he thinks. Much respect to him, and to "First Blacks" everywhere. By the way, read this after seeing his work in the "Policing the Police" documentary.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jillian

    Excellent review of Obama's campaign for president, which includes an analysis of the role and implications of race. Particularly interesting to read following the 2016 presidential election. Excellent review of Obama's campaign for president, which includes an analysis of the role and implications of race. Particularly interesting to read following the 2016 presidential election.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Extra poignant following the latest election.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wisteria Leigh

    I have read many books this year about President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Carter, and former President Clinton. This book covered areas and conversations that were new to me. What ever happened to Jessie Jackson? I know now, and I was more than shocked. President Obama's leadership unfolds by his own design, he is a master orator. Quoted often in the book he frequently asserts that he is the president of all people, all races, all colors, a United States of America. William Jelani Cobb has writte I have read many books this year about President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Carter, and former President Clinton. This book covered areas and conversations that were new to me. What ever happened to Jessie Jackson? I know now, and I was more than shocked. President Obama's leadership unfolds by his own design, he is a master orator. Quoted often in the book he frequently asserts that he is the president of all people, all races, all colors, a United States of America. William Jelani Cobb has written a deep reflective account of Barack Obama's meteoric journey to win the 2008 election. He writes about the influence of many of the older Civil Rights activists who surrounded him yet were often in fact more of a political liability. Cobb's book presents his analysis of Barack Obama as he begins his political campaign. For example... as the first black president, how will the country change? Cobb tells how Obama believes he is the leader of all Americans, regardless of color. The President acknowledges and gives personal reference to his own life and experiences. He speaks about our history and the racial attitudes that are still in recovery, still an insinuating sickness with much work to be done. However he maintains all Americans must strive to live in republic of racial equality.. to ultimately heal deep wounds of our past. This is a day I want to see. This is a small book in size with a depth of content readers will devour.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Lavelle

    Jelani Cobb is a great public scholar, and this book is a great window into the Obama presidency at its inception. Cobb does a nice job discussing the various perspectives of the significance of Obama as the first Black President.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Theon Hill

    A good analysis of the paradox of the Obama presidency to the Black Community. Perhaps Cobb could've arrived at his central point earlier, but a good analysis nonetheless. A good analysis of the paradox of the Obama presidency to the Black Community. Perhaps Cobb could've arrived at his central point earlier, but a good analysis nonetheless.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Magnus

    Found the book fascinating and quite amusing. Regardless of your political stripes it makes for an interesting read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Craig

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Ross

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jake

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  18. 4 out of 5

    Will Hornbeck

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Chang

  21. 4 out of 5

    John Torres

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adam Schendel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  24. 4 out of 5

    Louise

  25. 5 out of 5

    Esché Jackson

  26. 4 out of 5

    Simone

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chris MacDonald-Dennis

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn Tanis

  29. 5 out of 5

    R.K. Byers

    now I'm starting to wonder if we really DID elect Barack Obama. now I'm starting to wonder if we really DID elect Barack Obama.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jamey

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