Book Launch: Obama: An Oral History by Brian Abrams — In Conversation with Rob O’Donnell & Rachel Racusen
Where: powerHouse Arena
28 Adams St.
718-666-3049 Price: Free
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Obama: An Oral History is the first ever comprehensive oral history of President Obama’s White House, an immersive chronology of the politics and governing behind a landmark American presidency.
For this candid oral history of a near-decade in Washington, author Brian Abrams obtained unprecedented access to Obamaworld, including aides and advisers in the president’s administration and campaigns as well as several elected members of Congress, both Democratic and Republican. These behind-the-scenes stories illuminate the machinations of an era through more than one hundred exclusive interviews with senior staffers like Jon Favreau, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, and David Plouffe; cabinet members such as Leon Panetta, Jack Lew, and Arne Duncan, and key lawmakers which include Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Joe Lieberman, Scott Brown, and Barbara Boxer, among many others.
Abrams penetrates a vast political universe and cohesively pieces together a series of DC narratives that are now the stuff of legend. The book effectively begins in 2007, when a first-term senator from Illinois inspires a nation with promises of hope and change, and, from there, dives deep into the events that, somehow, weren’t all that long ago: the election of America’s first black president; building a new executive branch while, as aide Jim Messina put it, “watching the economy fall off the end of the table”; rescuing automakers and the nation from financial peril while spurring a budding renewables industry; the dramatic twists and turns at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, which ultimately laid the groundwork for the 2015 Paris climate accord; the inner-workings of historic legislation, ranging from healthcare fights to Dodd-Frank’s banking reform (and the Justice Department’s failed pursuit of the “too big to fail” Wall Streeters), to the partisan budget wars which culminated in a horrific 2011 debt ceiling crisis.
The oral history also takes the reader through the foreign policy agenda: the handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab Spring, the killing of Osama bin Laden, drone strikes, Syria and ISIS, the Iran nuclear deal, the State Department’s years-long strategy behind the “Asia pivot,” and not to mention the makings and responses to a slew of pressing domestic issues — e.g. the transferring of Gitmo prisoners, Deepwater Horizon, the fight for same- sex marriage, Occupy Wall Street, the massacres of Tucson and Sandy Hook, the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the NSA disclosures and Edward Snowden, the 2013 government shutdown, the Ferguson riots and police-community relations, the deep-seated racisms that resulted in the birther movement and the Charleston AME Church shooting, and much more. The book even folds in the contentious 2016 presidential election cycle dominated by Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump, and reveals the harried final days of the Obama White House, from the morning after a gut-wrenching Election Night loss and leading up to the terrifying reality of January 20, 2017.
Whether leaving you with a renewed sense of appreciation for public service, or acting as a reminder for the administration’s shortcomings, the insights packed into Obama: An Oral History ignite a fascinating debate over the most accomplished Democratic presidency since FDR and provide an account of our recent times you won’t soon forget.Buy tickets/get more info now