Tuesday, April 13, 2010

'The Bridge': Good Reading on Bridges, Roads, Highways, and Cul de Sacs

Early in our relationsip, my wife Ann and I, now married thirty-five years, made several important discoveries:

1. She likes to drive. I can take or leave driving.

2. I can read in the car. She can't do that without getting car sick.

Folks, for two people who love to read and go places together, that's perfect complementarity.

So, for years, we've had the same M.O. whenever we take trips, be they vacations or short jaunts: Ann slips in behind the wheel and I pop open a book to read to her. I couldn't even begin to calculate how many books we've read together this way through the years. But we've had lots of interesting conversations while learning together.

Just last week, we started out latest "car" book, one I picked up just last week at Costco: David Remnick's fascinating account of the life and rise to the presidency of Barack Obama, The Bridge. Remnick has done his homework, first tracing the life stories of the 44th president's parents: the cosmopolitan girl from Kansas and the promising scholar from Kenya who met and married while both were students at the University of Hawaii. We've read about the birth and the early, somewhat tempestuous years that Barack Obama, Jr. endured in Hawaii, Indonesia, and back in Hawaii again. We've read about the fall of Barack Obama, Sr. after his devastatingly disappointing return to Kenya.

Remnick's basic thesis is that Barack Obama audaciously claimed himself to be the generational heir and political expression of the hopes of the Civil Rights generation, one whose position was so secured by Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, Andrew Young, and others, that he didn't need to be a black politician, but a politician who happens to be black. Obama claimed in a speech in Selma shortly after he announced his candidacy that he was a member of the Joshua generation, following the Moses generation of King, Lewis, Jackson, Young, and others into full citizenship in the United States.

Remembering his own courageous and bloody experience on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where he was beaten for peacefully demonstrating on behalf of voting rights for all Americans, John Lewis has said that Barack Obama is what you get on the other side of the bridge. That's where the title comes from.

Remnick is an excellent and perceptive writer. I highly recommend this one!

[Click on 1 below, to find this book.]

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