Barack Obama in his Own Words


Edited by Lisa Rogak

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 16, 2008. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Since delivering his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama has been hailed as the clear savior of not only the Democratic party, but of the integrity of American politics. Despite the fact that he burst onto the national scene seemingly overnight, his name recognition has grown by leaps and bounds ever since.

Barack Obama in His Own Words, a book of quotes from the Illinois Senator, allows those who aren’t as familiar with his politics to learn quickly where he stands on abortion, religion, AIDS, his critics, foreign policy, Iraq, the War on Terror, unemployment, gay marriage, and a host of other important issues facing America and the world.


SOME BELIEVE THE EYES are a mirror to the soul, but others firmly believe it's a person's words that prove to be a more worthy indication of what his or her true intentions are.
When the first edition of Barack Obama in his Own Words was published in the spring of 2007, little was known about the first-term senator from Illinois, aside from an electrifying speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention—where he overshadowed the main attraction, presidential candidate John Kerry. The quotes in that first edition were meant to serve as an introduction for people curious to learn where he stood on the issues of the day.
Fast forward to 2008, and oh, what a difference little more than a year can make. When the primary competition began in earnest, we didn't know how important Obama's use of language and words would be to his campaign. Most candidates attract the attention of potential voters with promises, but Obama drew their notice not only with his words but also with his delivery style. I saw him speak for the first time a few months after the first edition of this book was published, when he was the keynote speaker at an annual meeting of New Hampshire trial lawyers. It was like he was speaking with the audience, not at them, and he spoke off the cuff, only occasionally referring to a single sheet of paper. His tone was self-deprecating and he peppered his speech with references to the life of a lawyer, which were met with knowing chuckles. True, it was one lawyer addressing an audience of other lawyers, but as I looked around the room, the faces of the people were spellbound. And yes, you could hear the proverbial pin drop.
People quickly realized that his sound bites were more thoughtful and, well, more intelligent than the other candidates' in a race where canned replies were the standard. As a result, he was quickly thrust into the spotlight. The others scrambled to keep up by altering their words and speeches, but it was glaringly obvious that they lacked Obama's gift for turning a phrase.
He not only excels at the spoken word, but the written as well. By the age of forty-six, he'd produced two well-written memoirs that he penned without the help of a ghostwriter. Though they lack the audible inflection and infectious energy of a Sunday preacher, the words are not much different from his spoken words: they still jump off the page.
While words have cast Obama into the limelight, they have also earned him increased scrutiny, especially when uttered by others—most notably the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. But in every case, Obama continued to surprise us with his words. For example, in response to Wright's rhetoric, the senator faced the situation head-on by talking about what many people would feel uncomfortable saying out loud in his landmark "A More Perfect Union" speech on race.
"I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother—a woman who helped raise me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe," he said.
Americans have rarely experienced a presidential candidate whose rhetorical style was so crucial to his political platform. And they have reacted enthusiastically. Some compared it to Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech; Robert Creamer of the Huffington Post said that with that one speech, "Obama showed America that he is the guy you want answering the red phone at 3 a.m." Perhaps more than anything else, and unlike many other politicians, Obama doesn't talk down to his audiences. Rather, he addresses adults as grownups, not as three-year-olds.
In this expanded and updated version of Barack Obama in his Own Words, I've added more of the senator's quotes as well as excerpts from several of his best-known speeches, including the famous speech on race he gave in the spring of 2008. The resulting book acts both as a guide to where he stands on the issues and a compendium of his most famous words and phrases from the 2008 campaign.
Though a flurry of books have been published about the president-elect since he first gained widespread attention during primary season, this second edition of Barack Obama in his Own Words was expanded and revised after Obama won the nation's highest office.

Barack Obama in Brief
BARACK OBAMA WAS born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961, to Barack Obama, Sr., an economics student and devout Muslim from Kenya, and Ann Dunham, a white woman from Kansas. His parents separated when Barack was two years old and ultimately divorced. After the divorce his father attended Harvard University to pursue a doctorate before eventually returning to Kenya. His mother remarried and moved to Indonesia when Barack was six. The family lived in Jakarta for four years, and Barack returned to Hawaii by himself to live with his grandparents until he graduated from high school in 1979. He attended Occidental College in California for two years before he transferred to Columbia University.
In 1982, he received word that his father had died in a car accident in Kenya, and it threw him for a loop despite the fact that he had only seen his father once since his parents' divorce, when Barack was ten. He graduated from Columbia with a bachelor's in political science in 1983. After spending a year in a corporate job, he moved to Chicago where he chose to work in community projects, joining a nonprofit organization involved in job training. In 1988, he enrolled at Harvard Law School, where he would first gain national recognition for serving as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991, Obama returned to Chicago to continue his work with community nonprofits as a civil rights lawyer and taught at the University of Chicago law school with a specialty in constitutional law. He met Michelle Robinson, another lawyer, in the summer of 1989 while they were working at a corporate law firm, and they married in 1992.
As a result of his visibility at Harvard, Random House asked him to write an autobiography, and Dreams from My Father was published in 1995. His mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer a few months earlier, died shortly after the book was published. He and Michelle have two daughters: Malia, born in 1999, and Sasha, born in 2001.
His first run at public office resulted in success when Barack won the election to represent the South Side of Chicago in the Illinois State Senate in 1996. He served until 2004, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate with 70 percent of the vote, becoming the fifth African-American in U.S. history to serve in the august chamber.
In the wake of his increasing national popularity, Barack recorded the audio version of his autobiography, Dreams from My Father, which won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album in 2006. He formed an exploratory committee to decide whether to run for president in 2008, and announced that he would formalize his plans in February 2007.

The Quotes


I think the Democrats historically have made a mistake just trying to avoid the issue or pretend that there's not a moral component to it. There is. I am pro-choice, but I also think that it's important—even as I indicate that I'm pro-choice—to say this is not a trivial issue. And we have to listen to the profound concerns that other people have.
Face the Nation, March 12, 2006
No one is pro-abortion.
Speech at Benedictine University, October 5, 2004
I don't know anybody who is pro-abortion. I think it's very important to start with that premise. I think people recognize what a wrenching, difficult issue it is. Our goal should be to make abortion less common; that we should be discouraging unwanted pregnancies, that we should encourage adoption wherever possible.
Christianity Today, January 2008


Lincoln was not a perfect man, nor a perfect president. By modern standards, his condemnation of slavery might be considered tentative.
Chicago Tribune, June 26, 2005
I'm fascinated by Lyndon Johnson; there's a piece of him in me. That kind of hunger—desperate to win, please, succeed, dominate—I don't know any politician who doesn't have some of that reptilian side to him. But that's not the dominant part of me. On the other hand, I don't know that it was the dominant part of Lincoln. The guy was pretty reflective.
Men's Vogue, Fall 2006
I cannot swallow whole the view of Lincoln as the Great Emancipator.
Time Magazine, June 26, 2005


I have always thought that we did the right thing in Afghanistan. My only concern with respect to Afghanistan was that we diverted our attention from Afghanistan in terms of moving into Iraq, and I think would could have done a better job of stabilizing that country than we have in providing assistance to the Afghani people. All of us should be rooting for the Afghani people and making sure that we are providing them the support to make things happen.
Illinois Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network, October 12, 2004


Africans are going to have to be responsible for their own salvation. We have to be partners with them in that process. The African-American community here has to be attentive to their issues. On the flip side, African leaders have to create a rule of law that is not corrupt, that is transparent.
Essence, October 2006
Black Americans have always had an ambiguous relationship with Africa. Nowadays, we wear kente cloth, celebrate Kwanza and put up posters of Nelson Mandela on our walls. And when we travel to Africa and discover it's not all sweetness and light, we can end up deeply disappointed.
Crisis, October 1995


I don't think the Democratic Party takes the African-American voters for granted. I want Republicans to compete for the African-American vote. They're not getting the African-American vote not because African-Americans aren't open-minded, but because Democrats have consistently championed those issues—civil rights, voting rights, concern for working families—that are of greatest concern to African-American voters.
Meet the Press, July 25, 2004
In the African-American community in particular, I think sometimes we have a tendency for our leadership to be very protective of their turf and not invite young people in until it's way too late. The earlier we're grooming young people and giving them leadership opportunities, and pushing them up front, the better.
Black Collegian, October 2006
I firmly believe the overwhelming majority of African-Americans are just as hardworking, just as intent to go about their business. What is true, though, is sometimes we get into the mode of it's easier to blame white folks for things than us taking the responsibility.
Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man? Charles Barkley, page 35
We have a certain script in our politics, and one of the scripts for black politicians is that for them to be authentically black they have to somehow offend white people. And then if he puts a multiracial coalition together, he must somehow be compromising the efforts of the African-American community. To use a street term, we flipped the script.
Chicago Tribune, June 26, 2005
I think that it is the best of times and the worst of times for the African-American community. And one of the things that I want to make certain is that the voices of young men standing on a street corner without hope and vision for the future. Voices are heard in the U.S. Senate, that we feel a certain sense of urgency about a generation that we're losing.
All Things Considered, July 27, 2004
Any black person in America who's successful has to be able to speak several different forms of the same language. You take on different personas as you need to, when you have to. There's nothing wrong with it. You're going to speak differently on the golf course with your golf buddies than you are with your buddies around the kitchen table.
Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man? Charles Barkley, page 25
I know if I'm in an all-black audience that there's going to be a certain rhythm coming back at me from the audience. They're not just going to be sitting there. That creates a different rhythm in your speaking.
Chicago Tribune, June 26, 2005


We are all sick because of AIDS—and we are all tested by this crisis. Neither philanthropist nor scientist; neither government nor church, can solve this problem on their own—AIDS must be an all-hands-on-deck effort.
World AIDS Day Speech, December 1, 2006
I don't think we can deny that there is a moral and spiritual component to prevention. Again and again I heard stories of men and women contracting HIV because sex was no longer part of a sacred covenant, but a mechanical physical act. Having said that, I also believe that we cannot ignore that abstinence and fidelity may too often be the ideal and not the reality. If condoms and potentially microbicides can prevent millions of deaths, they should be made more widely available.


On Sale
Dec 16, 2008
Page Count
208 pages