One of the drawbacks of not working at Christianity Today any longer is that I’m not keeping up with all the new and forthcoming books. One that I totally missed until yesterday is Shelby Steele’s A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can’t Win, which came out late last year. Provocative title, for sure. Here’s the book description from Amazon.com:
Steele writes of how Obama is caught between the two classic postures that blacks have always used to make their way in the white American mainstream: bargaining and challenging. Bargainers strike a “bargain” with white America in which they say, I will not rub America’s ugly history of racism in your face if you will not hold my race against me. Challengers do the opposite of bargainers. They charge whites with inherent racism and then demand that they prove themselves innocent by supporting black-friendly policies like affirmative action and diversity.
Steele maintains that Senator Obama is too constrained by these elaborate politics to find his own true political voice. Obama has the temperament, intelligence, and background — an interracial family, a sterling education — to guide America beyond the exhausted racial politics that now prevail. And yet he is a Promethean figure, a bound man.
The book weighs in at a whopping 160 pages. Sounds a little thin, but I’m sure Steele makes every page count. Has anyone had the chance to read it yet? If so, I’d love to hear your take.