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Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House years by David Litt- Review


Book:  Thanks, Obama

Author: David Lift

Publisher: Harper Collins

Pages: 320

Price: Rs 699

When I was experiencing my first snowfall at Washington DC in 2017, at the same time author of this book is saying goodbye to his Job at White House. At that time and for the subsequent months political atmosphere was gloomy in Washington DC. But here David litt is trying to portray more Cheerful years through eyes of a Novice speech writer and goggles of an Obama fan. During his journey to coming to the age at White House, he describes how mundane and boring his work was and how he got disillusioned by politics.

He describes his work at White House in these words: “During my time at the White House, it must be said that I wrote some truly bad speeches. Some were overly technical. Some were boring. A few were not just flawed but embarrassing, like you write in high school and find years later in a drawer. But on this particular afternoon, four years after my first remarks for the president, POTUS stood before a packed convention hall and delivered a perfect speech.” And what is the high light of the speech? “Any system that allows us to turn blind eye to hopelessness and despair, that’s not a justice system, it is an injustice system.”

Basically, this is young man’s journey passed through White House. He describes administration nitty gritty in details but there is nothing remarkable which strikes you. And there are lots of unnecessary details which are outright boring. Though he was supposed to provide jokes to Obama for speech but here in his narration you hardly find any humour.

He provides sketchy details of major events of Obama era. But you discovered there is nothing remarkable on black lives matter. And that is disappointing. Same way capturing Osama bin laden is mentioned lightly. Of course, this is not the journal of commander who carried out operation but by being at the White House, the author is supposed to provide different perspectives. But Author is honest and forthright that is the biggest asset of this book.

But all is not lost. There are some nuggets like the process in which author describe reality as it is… “It was the process that determined which speeches opened with an engaging anecdote and which began with a sleep inducing parade of acks (acknowledgements). The process even dictated where and when POTUS would speak. “How does he decide what to talk about ? “interns would as I would dutifully pretend to know. But really, their guess was as good as mine.”

Biggest let down from reputed publisher Harper Collins is that in this 310-page book there is no space allotted for appendix or abbreviations or index.

As a speechwriter, Lift offers explanation for word Christmas tree. According to Lift, Christmas tree means a speech hopelessly weighed down with personal agendas and irrelevant policy details. Well, we can say the same about this book with one change, instead of speech you can use word Book which is aptly titled Thanks, Obama My Hopey, Changey White House Years.

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