As the first authoritative history of the Obama presidency in its entirety, The Black President: Hope and Fury in the Age of Obama situates the former president in his dynamic, inspirational, yet contentious political context. It captures the America that made Barack Obama’s White House years possible, while at the same time rendering the America that resolutely resisted the idea of a black chief executive thus making conceivable the ascent of the most unlikely of his successors. In elucidating the Obama moment in American politics and culture, The Black President is also, at its core, a sweeping exploration of the Obama presidency’s historical environment, impact, and meaning vis-à-vis African Americans—the tens of millions of people from every walk of life who collectively comprised his staunchest group of supporters, but who most starkly experienced the euphoric triumphs and dispiriting shortcomings of his years in office. In Obama’s own words, his White House years were “the best of times and worst of times” for Black America. This book is vitally concerned with the veracity of this claim, along with how Obama engaged the aspirations, trials, and disappointments of African Americans and how representative segments of Black America experienced and interpreted his historic presidency.
Conversation at Flyleaf Bookstore (cosponsored by Carolina Public Humanities, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Praise for The Black President: Hope and Fury in the Age of Obama
"The book overall is a gracefully written, scrupulously balanced and quite satisfying account of what Obama meant for Black Americans."
The New York Times Book Review
"The Black President: Hope and Fury in the Age of Obama by Claude A. Clegg III is an impressive attempt to gauge how well the former president performed in that impossible job.... This thoughtful, even-handed, highly useful book looks at the entire span of the forty-fourth US presidency...."
The Times Literary Supplement
"Claude A. Clegg III's book The Black President: Hope and Fury in the Age of Obama accomplishes various things. Foremost among them, ... Clegg punctures many of the myths about Obama's administration...."
"The Black President is a comprehensive and even-handed account of Barack Obama's tenure as Commander in Chief in the The White House from 2009 to 2017."
"Clegg is a compelling writer with an understated wit. His account is comprehensive and judicious."
"[A] splendid and wide-ranging 'interpretive history' of how Obama's White House years 'were witnessed, experienced, and interpreted by African Americans.'"
David J. Garrow, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
"Claude Clegg's detailed history of President Obama's two terms situates his tenure in the context of America's troubled race relations, portraying a presidency buffeted by the crosswinds of white expectations, black aspirations, and the growing force of white nationalism. This account is essential reading for those seeking to understand how we arrived at our current political moment."
Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and co-author of The Southernization of America: A Story of Democracy in the Balance
"The Black President is an authoritative account of how America lurched from a president who led with love to an administration forged by fear. Told in vivid detail, Clegg's analysis is as insightful as it is accessible––pulling back the curtain on the forces that frustrated Barack Obama's vision and carried Trumpism from the margins to the mainstream. This volume is more than a history of the Obama presidency; it is a summary of the era's most searing lessons on race and identity, a prism through which to understand our nation's fractured present, and a roadmap for building a more just society."
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles
"This is the best book I have read about the Obama presidency. Clegg offers a compelling portrait of the president, his policies, and his reception by the African American community. Beautifully connecting the personal with the political, Clegg offers an astute assessment of Barack Obama's many difficult choices as a candidate, leader, and public figure. The book is thorough, fair-minded, deeply researched, and fluidly written."
Jeremi Suri, University of Texas at Austin, author of The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America's Highest Office
"For Black Americans, the Obama years brought dizzying heights of racial progress and frustrating lows of racial animus and inequality. In this engrossing new history of African Americans and the Obama presidency Claude Clegg explains why, placing the nation's first black president in the grossly unequal and politically polarized context of early 21st century America."
George Derek Musgrove, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, co-author of Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation's Capital
"Professor Clegg brings the style and substance of our first Black president back to center stage, revealing new perspectives and insights about a man and an administration we didn't know as well as we thought. When as a society we finally have begun to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter, Clegg shows us how and why Barack Obama mattered enormously."
Larry J. Sabato, Director, Center for Politics, University of Virginia
"Clegg's prodigiously researched, authoritative study chronicles the first Black presidency and its complex, fraught relationship to African Americans, from its exhilarating start to its final, foreboding days. This lively, judicious, unsparing account of Obama's equanimity in the face of lofty Black expectations and the weaponized anti-Black racism of his opponents is a must-read for future researchers of his administration."
Kevin K. Gaines, University of Virginia, author of American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights Era