Two book reviews in Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry and Opinion contrast the style and substance of Tariq Ali's The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad to veteran US journalist Bob Woodward's Obama's Wars. While Woodward "mumbles, in cotton mouthed grammar" about imperial ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ali
pronounces the US-and-European-installed puppet government in Afghanistan a "bogus construct [that] never had the slightest legitimacy in the country, lacking even a modicum of the narrow but dedicated base the Taliban had enjoyed."
In a mid-term piece for New City, Ian Epstein does a survey of recent books on Barack Obama, opening with a dig at the people making the books:
The midterm election is a quadrennial occasion like an extremely exclusive art fair or a seminal trade show for many American industries. The main topic, of course, is the celebrated and increasingly absurd blend of American ritual and American politics. The midterms inject energy into everything, and especially the allegedly troubled industry of pulped trees and human thought that is known as publishing.
Among the books under scrutiny here are Roger D. Hodge's The Mendacity of Hope, Edward McClelland's Young Mr. Obama, Ari Berman's Herding Donkeys, and, of course, Tariq Ali's The Obama Syndrome about which Epstein writes, missing the point of the book entirely:
It lacks the make-you-want-to-stand-up-and-say-fuck-yeah attitude with which Obama adeptly mystified the masses during his campaign.
The book to make-you-want-to-stand-up-and-say-fuck-yeah that Epstein is perhaps looking for is The Verso Book of Dissent ...
In his review of Tariq Ali's The Obama Syndrome for The National, Scott McLemee hits the nail on the head straight off where the book's title is concerned:
The election of Barack Hussein Obama felt like the triumph of cosmopolitan possibility over rugged provincialism ... there was a spark of intelligence in the new president's eyes, where his predecessor had never shown more than a glint of dim cunning. World opinion was festive, for a while [...]
The very title of Tariq Ali's new book treats all of this as a kind of mental disorder—a "syndrome" to be treated, if not cured, by a strong reminder of political realities. Obama is "an extremely intelligent human being", he writes, but "not a progressive leader by any stretch of the imagination. Wishing that he were is fine but does not bring about the required transformation ... To talk of betrayal is foolish, for nothing has been betrayed but one's own illusions."