Obama: A Strong Writer, A Strong Franchise

By Neal Comment


Hey, remember two weeks ago, when I did that interview with Deborah Baker about her history of the Beat experience in India? That item touched glancingly upon her previous career as a book editor—a legacy the NY Times brought into sharper focus Sunday in an article about Barack Obama‘s literary track record, which mentions Baker’s role as the editor for the first paperback edition of Dreams From My Father:

“Even now, it’s hard to get my mind around the idea that this person is in politics,” Baker told Janny Scott. “I actually think he could be a brilliant politician. He was ambitious as a writer in the same way—very cunning in the way he structured the book. I remember thinking, ‘This guy really knows how to tell a story.'”

My favorite part is Obama’s own joke about that first paperback selling less than 9,000 copies: “290 million Americans did not buy the book.” (Also, I kick myself over the fact that, as much as I liked the book when I read it in 1995, I didn’t get it together to interview him for Beatrice.com.)

photo: Jae C. Hong/AP