The Promise

President Obama


In The Reality of HopeAlter takes the reader into the inner circles of Obama's intimates, those who were there from the start, and the gradually expanding circles, to show for the first time the emotions, rivalries, alliances of the extremely tight-lipped and disciplined administration: Biden, whom he chose because he had the experience even though he was not an early supporter, Hillary, whom he had long wanted for Secretary of State. There are stunning portraits of Obama's oldest friends, including Valerie Jarrett, and his early supporters; the Kennedys, Daschle, and of the more volatile newcomers, Rahm of course, and Larry Summers, and Geitner.

Watch the president dominate his Cabinet with silences and stares (instead of shouting like Clinton or LBJ). Add to that the knowledge that leaking can lose you your job. (One advisor called Obama, 'The most unsentimental man I have ever known.')

Obama is, in this portrait, self-aware and shrewd, well organized and confident, a natural leader who doesn't need or crave praise and is not given to spreading it around. (One intimate notes his praise is more likely to be 'What's next?' than 'Good job.') Nevertheless he is equable and attentive, and he listens. (It's one of his techniques.) In fact, if one doesn't have anything to say at his meetings, you may not be invited back. Alter characterizes Obama as a deductive thinker, and a fast one -- eager for action. It is said that Clinton's meetings always ran on too long and that Obama's may be too short.

Photo Credit: Kristopher Long

Jonathan Alter is an award-winning author, political analyst, documentary filmmaker, columnist, television producer, and radio host. A former senior editor at Newsweek, he is the author of three New York Times bestsellers: The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies (2013), The Promise: President Obama, Year One (2010) and The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope (2006), also one of the Times’s “Notable Books” of the year. Since 1996, Alter has been a contributing correspondent and political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. In 2019, he coproduced and codirected the HBO documentary, “Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists.” 

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (May 18, 2010)
  • Length: 480 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781847377616

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