Dave Beats Gordon to Barack's Book Club

Article excerpt


HOW will Barack Obama bond with Gordon Brown and David Cameron when it comes to literary tastes? Thanks to his Facebook page, we learn that the 44th president-elect's favourite books are Song of Solomon (Toni Morrison), Moby-Dick, Shakespeare's Tragedies, Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch (the Pulitzer Prize-winning book about Martin Luther King), Abraham Lincoln's Collected Writings, Self-Reliance, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Marilynne Robinson's Gilead and the Bible. In philosophy and theology, Obama mentions Friedrich Nietzsche, Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich which seems to echo his view that while life is bad, it's not that bad and there is cause for hope. Yes, we can.

But asked by the New York Times for the books that were most "significant" to him Obama came up with more surprising nominations: Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward and Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory and The Quiet American.

Just when everybody thought Greene had gone out of fashion, Obama comes back to rehabilitate him. Not, presumably, that he would approve of his lifestyle. Since his death in 1991 Greene has been exposed by a succession of biographers as a monstrous philanderer. When not making love to his mistress, Catherine Walston, behind church altars around Europe, he would have her stub cigarettes out on his body and on one occasion he scribbled down for her a list of his 47 favourite whores (he gave them nicknames such as "Russian boot" and "beautiful bottom in S Kensington"). …


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