The conferring of the prize comes just nine months into his tenure as president and is particularly noteworthy because he assumed office just two weeks before the February 1 deadline.
In its statement, the committee cited Obama’s role in creating a new climate in international relations, referring to his multilateral approach in tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems: reducing the world stock of nuclear arms, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthening the U.S. role in combating
While it’s been nearly impossible to live in the United States, and even the world, and not know about Obama, here are some books that people interested in either him or other prize winners might find interesting:
The Audacity of Hope: This is more of a political primer that Obama wrote in advance of his ultimately successful presidential run. He advocates the same type of nonpartisan tone the committee mentioned in its conferring the award on him.
Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage, by Christopher Andersen. This recent book traces the relationship between Obama and the woman he calls the rock of the family.
Social Change 2.0, by David Gershon. Someone who has worked to mobilize large numbers of people for social change during the past 30 years, Gershon writes toward the end of the book how Obama repeatedly throughout the campaign articulated a vision that united rather than divided. He gives Obama’s speech about race in Philadelphia as an example.
Tomorrow is Another Country, by Allister Sparks. This book by veteran journalist Sparks gives the back story on the negotiations between the African National Congress and the National Party in South Africa that culminated first in Nelson Mandela’s 1990 release from prison, and later in the country’s first free and democratic elections in April 1994. Mandela and F.W. de Klerk shared the 1993 prize.
Vietnam, by Stanley Karnow. This thorough work may cast doubt on the Nobel committee’s 1973 conferral of the prize on Henry Kissinger, whose role in the secret war in Cambodia more than undid any diplomatic moves he made toward peace.
Unbowed, A Memoir, by Wangari Maathai. This well written memoir depicts the remarkable life of Maathai, who in 2004 became the first black woman from Africa ever to win the prize. Maathai braved threats to her life and led a movement dedicated to the empowerment of women and the planting of literally millions of trees. While telling her story, her work also discusses much of Kenyan colonial history.
I, Rigoberta Menchu, by Rigoberta Menchu. The claims of the 1982 winner Menchu have been shown to not be completely true, and some supporters say that the book illustrates a larger truth by showing the oppressive conditions under which many people in Guatemala, especially its indigenous population, endured.