Airplane (Tarmac) Reading: Barack Obama


Can you use a photograph as a book blurb? If so, Fareed Zakaria might want to find a way to get this photo (by Doug Mills of the New York Times, via Shelf Awareness) on the cover of the paperback (or, the way it's selling, on the next hardcover edition) of The Post-American World. I love the way you can tell how far Obama's gotten in the book by where his finger is holding his place (which, as all bookworms know, is also body-language code for "Okay, I'll talk to you, but what I really want to do is get back to reading this book, which I will start doing as soon as you leave me alone."). (Also note what appears to be a flag pin!) I'd ask whether this shot will have the same effect on sales of Post-American World that photos of Posh Spice reading (or at least holding) Skinny Bitch did for that one, but Post-American has already spent most of this month in our Top 10 (currently #7, as one of the few books in the 10 not written by Stephenie Meyer).

Meanwhile, let's summarize: here we have the current frontrunner (barely) to be the 44th president of the United States (the son of a Kenyan man and an American woman, named Barack Obama), reading the top-selling current events book of the season (by an immigrant from Mumbai named Fareed Zakaria) called The Post-American World. Some evidence that we may not be living in Nixonland anymore... --Tom

Leave a Comment

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this blog until approved.

Comments (17)

I dont know which is more disturbing, the book he is reading or the fact that he is apparently getting a hard on reading it!

Posted by: YIKES! | Monday November 8, 2010 at 5:35 PM

"Am I the only one who finds it both hilarious and frightening that the most obviously unqualified major party presidential (almost) nominee in living memory is reading a book predicting America's inevitable (at least relative) decline?
God help us if he regards it as an instruction manual."

Nope. I thought the same thing along with "Oh. God. No. Now he actually has a game plan."

Posted by: Bill | Monday November 8, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Interestingly enough you did not mention his middle name - Hussein - an Arab name; nor did you mention his father was both Arab and Muslim; nor did you mention that the author of the book is also a Muslim.

A Muslim, born in India, author Zakaria also writes off terrorism and suggests that Americans are more likely to drown in their bathtubs than be the victim of a terrorist attack. He adds that deaths by organized violence is in a downtrend, that Al-Qaeda in Iraq is more anti-Shiite than anti-American, that Al-Qaeda “used to do terrorism, now they make videotapes” (the latest calling for nuclear attacks on the US), and that such groups along with Iran are much less of a threat than Germany or Russia did during the 20th century.

He also uses the crutch all Muslims and Muslim apologists lean on, “But it is increasingly clear that militants and suicide bombers make up a tiny portion of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims.” Of course he offers no evidence for this fact nor does he pontificate on the hundreds of thousands of Muslims around the world, including the U.S., who regularly protest against non-Muslims, burn flags and effigies, and carry signs advocating death to non-Muslims.

Posted by: Raina | Tuesday May 27, 2008 at 5:10 PM

Fareed Zakaria has been a serious scholar who studied under Samuel P. Huntington (i.e. Clash of Civilisations). He has written two great popular books concerning global trends. That they are written for a general audience doesn't say anything against them. Since when did people like Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, John Yoo become the only deep thinkers who presidential candidates can read. Suppose Bush reads Bernard Lewis, then again, probably because his foreign policy views (unlike his scholarship) accord with Bushs own. I don't get the problem here. Zakaria thesis in Future of Freedom was so sensible and speaking myself, as a classical liberal, I thought it was obviously true. People could learn alot from reading him.

Posted by: James | Friday May 23, 2008 at 11:26 PM

Excellent point, Ollie--the same thought crossed my mind but I didn't have the time or the brain power to make it so efficiently. Although, to make things a little less efficient, I think that side of Nixon (which Perlstein does talk about in the book) isn't really what he is trying to get at with the "Nixonland" idea.

PJ: to the extent that I am surprised by such an image, it's only because it would have been unthinkable for most of American history. One key difference being between "running for office" and being the actual frontrunner for the presidency.

Posted by: Tom | Thursday May 22, 2008 at 11:24 AM

wow, there sure are a lot of folks threatened by change. you could always be like those 40 year old gang bangers and keep living your life in the past, thus influencing the young kids to become just like you.

or you could actually accept that change is a heck of a lot better.

Posted by: mazzter | Thursday May 22, 2008 at 10:31 AM

So you are suggesting that due to the fact Obama reads best selling books he is not ready for the presidency? The other point being he lacks "maturity" and should wait his turn? Compared to Hillary's "I will do say anything, do anything including obliterate Iran" to get back to the White House and John McCain's "I am not really very good with economics or names" and Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran, Obama somehow doesn't measure up??? I would rather elect an intelligent person who can learn as opposed to an egoist and a man who clearly is out of his league in the big world.

Posted by: Workman3344 | Thursday May 22, 2008 at 9:54 AM

Just think, Nixon thought (along with Kissinger) that the end of the West was nigh and that we had to do Detente just so that the West might survive the coming clash of civilizations with the "winning" Communists.

And now you say that we are no longer in Nixonland when that is the same theme of the The Post American World book?

How nothing ever changes...

Posted by: Ollie | Thursday May 22, 2008 at 9:28 AM

People who read "Post-American World" have a place in this world.

However, it is not as PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Posted by: mbviews | Thursday May 22, 2008 at 9:02 AM

I'm surprised you feel compelled to say it twice.

Posted by: vanderleun | Thursday May 22, 2008 at 8:48 AM

So you are surprised by a mixed-race person running for office reading a book by an immigrant?

You don't get around much, do you?

Posted by: PJ | Thursday May 22, 2008 at 7:46 AM

So you are surprised by a mixed-race person running for office reading a book by an immigrant?

You don't get around much, do you?

Posted by: PJ | Thursday May 22, 2008 at 7:46 AM

At least he appears to have his flag pin on. This had to be staged - looking forward to hearing why?

Posted by: khawk | Thursday May 22, 2008 at 7:13 AM

It's too bad that "The Post-American World" isn't available on the Kindle. It sounds like an interesting read. But now that I have a Kindle, I find myself only wanting to purchase and read books that are available for it.

Posted by: Shawn | Wednesday May 21, 2008 at 1:38 PM

Am I the only one who finds it both hilarious and frightening that the most obviously unqualified major party presidential (almost) nominee in living memory is reading a book predicting America's inevitable (at least relative) decline?

God help us if he regards it as an instruction manual.

Posted by: FredTownWard | Wednesday May 21, 2008 at 12:29 PM

You can't see it but he's got a copy of Skinny Bitch in his other hand.

Posted by: Lisa Peet | Wednesday May 21, 2008 at 12:08 PM

Referred to now as “Oback Barama” the man brazenly and without merit, accepts the credit and accomplishments of the pioneer Martin Luther King, who actually did accomplish bridge building which has lasted time tested
decades. This man ‘Oback’ has no relevant experience, as yet, to run a small business, let alone Our country. Even tho we may WANT his image for our president this man is NOT the man for the job. CANDIDATES must be savvy on a global scale, in an area of leadership with hands on proven experience at commanding power responsibly and with vision, to take the reins of world leader. HE IS NOT FULLY RIPENED at all for this serious responsiblity & obligation. Watching his presence on stage in debates it is all rehearsed even the chuckles, his answers are crefted to say what he has planned whether it is an answer to a direct and specific question is immaterial. In many discussion settings his opinions; ideas and ANSWERS are unclear vague and worse, uninformed. Oback is a frightening choice for
today’s selection as Democratic candidate.

Suggestion: Come back in ten years Barack and then we may take your run to lead the free world more on a serious note.
P.S. The first lady position is not one that is “voted” for…however in this case, Michelle ‘Obama’ is NO asset in this case, whatsoever. Has the appearance of a tart astringent facial tick going when the camera is on her. Her discomfort is palpable. Neither one is ready..

Posted by: mgk | Wednesday May 21, 2008 at 11:28 AM

Lists + Reviews

Best Books Literature + Fiction Nonfiction Kids + Young Adult Mystery, Thriller + Suspense Science Fiction + Fantasy Comics + Graphic Novels Romance Eating + Drinking


Interviews Guest Essays Celebrity Picks

News + Features

News Features Awards


Omnivoracious, The Amazon Book Review

Feeds Facebook Twitter YouTube