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President Obama | Social Science Reviews, February 15, 2017

Chait, Jonathan. Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail. HarperCollins. Jan. 2017. 272p. index. ISBN audacity. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062426994. POL SCI
New York magazine writer Chait (The Big Con) is clear about his agenda for this book. Rather than a history of Barack Obama’s presidency (2009–17) or another biography, this book presents an argument: while Obama had setbacks and made mistakes, he was successful in long-term American policy that he intended to enact when he took office. Chait’s evidence comes from information available to the public. From these sources, the author shares Obama’s successes in preventing further economic depression during the 2009 crisis. He also implemented the Clean Power Plan and got China on board with more environmentally friendly policies through negotiation. Last but not least, Obama got the Affordable Care Act passed. Chait not only focuses on the positive, he also acknowledges the president’s blunders, such as his failure to enforce his “red line” in Syria. ­VERDICT Overall, this strong account is accessible to general readers. [See Prepub Alert, 5/16/16.]—Jennifer M. Schlau, Elgin ­Community Coll., IL

D’Antonio, Michael. A Consequential President: The Legacy of Barack Obama. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Jan. 2017. 320p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250081391. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466893276. POL SCI
president obamaAs an answer to critics on both the left and right, journalist D’Antonio (The Truth About Trump) shows that despite determined opposition from Republicans in Congress while facing national and international financial and military crises, Barack Obama managed to be the transformative U.S. president that many hoped for when he took office in 2009. There is extensive coverage of the legislative struggle to obtain passage of the Affordable Care Act with examples of the misleading campaigns opponents in Congress and the media devised to attempt to defeat the legislation. D’Antonio explains how Obama’s foreign policy breakthroughs in the Iran nuclear treaty and restoring relations with Cuba raised America’s standing in the world, and he includes education reform and energy and environmental policy advancement as important accomplishments of the Obama administration. The author acknowledges that the president did not deliver on several promises, including closing the Guantanamo Bay prison and creating meaningful legislation limiting access to firearms. VERDICT Readers who enjoy learning about government and politics and want to know how Obama and his advisers addressed the challenges they faced will appreciate D’Antonio’s thorough coverage. [See Prepub Alert, 7/11/16.]— Jill Ortner, SUNY Buffalo Libs.

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