The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama By Gwen Ifill Doubleday; 277 pages
Gwen Ifill's book about the rising generation of African-American politicians caused a mini-tempest even before the presses rolled. Critics questioned whether the PBS journalist chosen to moderate the vice-presidential debate could do so impartially, given the book's theme. In her introduction, she dismisses charges that The Breakthrough is a "piece of pro-Obama puffery"--although it might have been better to use a photo on the back cover different from one of Ifill looking adoringly at Obama during an interview. Ifill has interviewed virtually every African-American politician of note, tracking a generational shift away from leaders like Jesse Jackson who were schooled in the civil rights movement toward Ivy Leaguers like Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. And while scoundrels like Detroit's disgraced former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick are almost absent, there's much here to justify her assertion that "the bench is deep" with rising political stars--and her role as their enthusiastic chronicler.
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