Two of my favorite book-spy pastimes--reading the spines on bookshelves in the background of photos and keeping an eye on what Obama is reading--have intersected with President-elect Obama's weekly YouTube video addresses. The view out the window keeps changing, but the two things on the table behind him remain the same: the photo of--I assume--his daughters, Malia and Sasha, and a set of three volumes in a wooden case:
What are the books? The titles are too fuzzy for me to make out. What do you think? Some possible three-volume candidates: The Presidential Recordings: Lyndon B. Johnson, Volumes 1-3 (one of the best things that's ever arrived in my office mail!)? Shelby Foote's Civil War? The Oxford English Dictionary Additions (he's not that much of a book geek)? The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz? The Handbook of Finance (might come in handy these days: "Volume I: Financial Markets and Instruments skillfully covers the general characteristics of different asset classes, derivative instruments, the markets in which financial instruments trade, and the players in those markets.... Volume III Valuation, Financial Modeling, and Quantitative Tools contains the most comprehensive coverage of the analytical tools, risk measurement methods, and valuation techniques currently used in the field of finance.")
Well, I was going to open the floor for suggestions and crowd-sourced detective work, but I think I figured it out. I went back to the November 15 address, and the books are still there, but a little closer, and I can read "John F. Kennedy" on the spines:
I hunted around a little on the site, and I think I've got it: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, 1962 and 1963, unabridged in three volumes, from the U.S. Government Printing Office, 1964. Does this sound right? "The books are blue buckram, gold spine title on red printed label and the dimensions are 6.75" X 9.75". President Kennedy's writings and public communications starting with his inaugural address. Itemized list of phone calls, letters, statements, greetings, etc. plus a complete index." Currently we have one copy available in "perfect" condition (O's look a little worn), for $625. I don't know if that includes the wooden case. --Tom
P.S. I also noticed one other difference in the Nov. 15 video. Instead of the photo of his daughters on the right behind him, there's a signed basketball. I couldn't make out who signed it (it looks about the same vintage as the books), and I was going to throw that one out for detective work, but somebody's already done that too.(It's signed by Lenny Wilkens.) Man, the Web giveth mystery, and taketh it away... (Looks like I wasn't the first to figure out the books, either.) Okay, one last mystery for you: what's the book next to the basketball? That, I believe, remains unsolved...