The books that changed Obama’s life


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As expected, the first volume of the memoirs of Barack Obama, titled “A Promised Land” (Debate), has quickly become a worldwide bestseller. The book is a journey through his political career, but also an intimate self-portrait and an analysis of the drift of the world. In it he states that in times of division, literature and stories “are more important than ever.”

On the occasion of the publication of the book, Obama has given an interview to « The New York Times»In which he reviews his literary memory, the works that have marked his biography for different reasons. In it, he explains which are his favorite American authors: “Either Whitman O Emerson O Ellison O Kerouac, there is this feeling of self-invention and acceptance of the contradiction. I think it’s in our DNA, right from the beginning, because we come from everywhere and we contain crowds. And that has always been both the promise of the United States and what makes the United States sometimes such a controversial country. “

As a teenager, Obama fervently read African-American authors such as James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston O W.E.B. DuBois. In college, he said, he threw himself into reading every title he heard, and that’s how classics like Hemingway, Dostoevsky Y Cervantes, but also novels like “Under the Volcano”, by Malcolm Lowry, o «The Golden Notebook», de Doris Lessing. At that time he did not understand genres, and devoured treatises on philosophy, poetry, novels, essays, biographies, and so on.

Between his twenties and thirties, Obama combined his obsession with Bible and by Shakespeare with reading books about Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. Y Reinhold Niebuhr. With them, he said, a vision of the United States was forged as a country in constant process of change, marked by social injustices and in permanent struggle to conquer the promised land.

At the time of writing, Obama has confessed that his greatest influence is James Baldwin, although he is also VS Naipaul It has marked him a lot.

Your bedside books

In fiction, Obama’s favorite books written by Americans are: «The great Gatsby», de Francis Scott Fitzgerald; «The invisible man», de Ralph Ellison; «The grapes of wrath», de John Steinbeck; «Solomon’s song»By Toni Morrison; “Either Hemingway or Faulkner” and the novels of Philip Roth. In poetry, of course, bet on Whitman.

From nonfiction, Obama has highlighted the autobiographies of Frederick Douglass Y Malcolm X. Also the mythical «Walden“By Henry David Thoreau, and”Self-sufficiency», By Ralph Waldo Emerson. Finally, it highlights “Democracy in America“By Alexis de Tocqueville, who reminds us, as Obama has explained,” that America really was a break with the old world. It’s something we now take for granted or lose sight of, in part because much of modern culture embodies certain elements of America. “

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