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Download A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited about Obama and Why He Can’t Win Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited about Obama and Why He Can’t Win Audiobook, by Shelby Steele Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (109 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Shelby Steele Narrator: Richard Allen Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2008 ISBN: 9781400176038
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In Shelby Steele’s beautifully wrought and thought-provoking new book, A Bound Man, the award-winning and bestselling author of The Content of Our Character attests that Senator Barack Obama’s groundbreaking quest for the highest office in the land is fast becoming a galvanizing occasion beyond mere presidential politics, one that is forcing a national dialogue on the current state of race relations in America. Says Steele, poverty and inequality usually are the focus of such dialogues, but Obama’s bid for so high an office pushes the conversation to a more abstract level where race is a politics of guilt and innocence generated by our painful racial history—a kind of morality play between (and within) the races in which innocence is power and guilt is impotence.

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.

Says Steele, Americans are constrained by a racial correctness so totalitarian that we are afraid even to privately ask ourselves what we think about racial matters. Like Obama, most of us find it easier to program ourselves for correctness rather than risk knowing and expressing what we truly feel. Obama emerges as a kind of Everyman in whom we can see our own struggle to accept and honor what we honestly feel about race. In A Bound Man, Steele makes clear the precise constellation of forces that bind Senator Obama, and proposes a way for him to break these bonds and find his own voice. The courage to trust in one’s own careful judgment is the new racial progress, the “way out” from the forces that now bind us all.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Full of fresh insights into the cultural politics of race…a tour de force.”

    Publishers Weekly

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joy Weese Moll | 2/13/2014

    " Read this in a day and will probably read it again before discussing it in a book club next month. I think it will provide lots of fodder for discussion. Steele makes intriguing points that I want to think about further. In the end, the argument seemed simplistic and contrived for drama, so I am unconvinced that it describes race in America today or that it applies to Obama's ability to win. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marlene | 2/11/2014

    " Interesting perspective. Don't know how much of this is one man's opinion. Basically states that Obama can't win both the white and the black vote because of the manner in which he must appeal to each side - either by being a bargainer or a more confrontive challenger. Gives you something to think about. Short book - read it in an evening. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Erica | 1/29/2014

    " I appreciated the message of this book and its thought provoking nature. I think I should have started with a book written by Obama himself, as I beame frustrated with the degree of assumtion and hypotheses used by the author. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy | 1/26/2014

    " Worthwhile read - I question whether "bargining" and "challening" postures are used just in racial situations or whether they are just as likely in class/econmic disparity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 La Tonya | 1/26/2014

    " I enjoyed this book because it was an easy read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 1/26/2014

    " Interesting thesis - similar to his book "White Guilt" but applied specifically to Obama. Obviously written before Obama had won the nomination. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robin Gal | 1/15/2014

    " He won! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wwpray | 12/12/2013

    " Okay, I was kind of liking Barak, but this book kind of makes me nervous. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Theo | 12/1/2013

    " A sociological perspective on the political aspirations of Barack Obama from a position of race. Shelby Steele, author of The Content Of Our Character, looks at the implications of his bi-racial background & it's impact upon his presidential hopes. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mishele | 11/24/2013

    " I saw Steele on an interview and decided his books would be worth looking into more. This book could just as easily have been a magazine article. No need for an entire book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jesse | 11/22/2013

    " Huh? What a mess of an argument and doesn't even mention Obama that much. It would have been fine as a sociological analysis of identity and race in America but just didn't make an iota of sense. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alec Gray | 11/21/2013

    " An interesting and cogent examination of race issues and how they may play out with Barak "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joan | 11/14/2013

    " I couldn't resist the title and found it so funny that I checked it out to see why Obama couldn't be elected president. so far it's more about the author than about Obama. I was quite disappointed in this book. Well written but if that is how race is in America, sad. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 simar | 11/11/2013

    " i think (and hope) Obama will win - but a fascinating read nonetheless. an enlightening biography combined with an astute, fresh perspective on race relations and their political implications. engrossing, crisp read - perfect for a flight. highly recommended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ben Thomas | 9/21/2013

    " Controversial title. Honest perspective by the author on difficult issues rarely discussed. We'll see if his prediction comes true... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Archie | 2/16/2013

    " Couldn't finish this. Shelby Steele and I do not see things eye to eye. Troy's review echoes my thoughts.... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Deirdrie | 2/11/2013

    " This author must be kicking himself for wasting so much of his time, energy and (above all) money! I hope he can admit when he's wrong. This book goes down in the hall of shame... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Staci | 2/4/2013

    " It was more of a book review of Dreams of My Father for me. However, there were a couple of points that got me thinking about race, society's use of labels, and perceptions of stereotypes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth Holter | 11/29/2012

    " The best take on Obama that I've read, by a man of similar lineage but different worldview. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bruce Huie | 10/27/2012

    " great critique of Barack Obama by an African-American educator "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Laura Gardner | 9/3/2012

    " I voted for the guy in the primaries and I do think he can win! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Thomas Orlando | 12/17/2011

    " Well, I guess one for two isn't bad! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Fred | 12/14/2011

    " Saw author on Bill Moyers the other night. Had never seen this perspective on race from an American. update...tuesday will tell if he's right or not "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Otis Millbrook | 12/9/2011

    " Proof that a wise man is not always right. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Otis | 5/14/2011

    " Proof that a wise man is not always right. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Deirdrie | 7/27/2009

    " This author must be kicking himself for wasting so much of his time, energy and (above all) money! I hope he can admit when he's wrong. This book goes down in the hall of shame... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joan | 1/5/2009

    " I couldn't resist the title and found it so funny that I checked it out to see why Obama couldn't be elected president. so far it's more about the author than about Obama. I was quite disappointed in this book. Well written but if that is how race is in America, sad. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Thomas | 1/5/2009

    " Well, I guess one for two isn't bad! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 La Tonya | 1/3/2009

    " I enjoyed this book because it was an easy read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 elizaholtr | 10/14/2008

    " The best take on Obama that I've read, by a man of similar lineage but different worldview. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 10/4/2008

    " Interesting thesis - similar to his book "White Guilt" but applied specifically to Obama. Obviously written before Obama had won the nomination. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bruce | 9/6/2008

    " great critique of Barack Obama by an African-American educator "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Theo | 8/9/2008

    " A sociological perspective on the political aspirations of Barack Obama from a position of race. Shelby Steele, author of The Content Of Our Character, looks at the implications of his bi-racial background & it's impact upon his presidential hopes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wwpray | 8/6/2008

    " Okay, I was kind of liking Barak, but this book kind of makes me nervous. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Erica | 6/16/2008

    " I appreciated the message of this book and its thought provoking nature. I think I should have started with a book written by Obama himself, as I beame frustrated with the degree of assumtion and hypotheses used by the author. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy | 4/17/2008

    " Worthwhile read - I question whether "bargining" and "challening" postures are used just in racial situations or whether they are just as likely in class/econmic disparity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 simar | 4/16/2008

    " i think (and hope) Obama will win - but a fascinating read nonetheless. an enlightening biography combined with an astute, fresh perspective on race relations and their political implications. engrossing, crisp read - perfect for a flight. highly recommended. "

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About the Narrator

Richard Allen is an accomplished and respected theatrical actor whose work includes Ragtime and PBS’ Great Performances: Play On! His voice can be heard on numerous television and radio productions, as well as the animated series Jumanji. Allen is also the winner of seven AudioFile Earphones Awards.