What We Are Reading Today: The Obama Portraits

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Updated 14 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Obama Portraits

Authors: Taína Caragol, Dorothy Moss, Richard Powell, and Kim Sajet 

 

From the moment of their unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery in early 2018, the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama have become two of the most beloved artworks of our time. 

Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of President Obama and Amy Sherald’s portrait of the former first lady have inspired unprecedented responses from the public, and attendance at the museum has more than doubled as visitors travel from near and far to view these larger-than-life paintings.

After witnessing a woman drop to her knees in prayer before the portrait of Barack Obama, one guard said, “No other painting gets the same kind of reactions. Ever.” The Obama Portraits is the first book about the making, meaning, and significance of these remarkable artworks, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Richly illustrated with images of the portraits, exclusive pictures of the Obamas with the artists during their sittings, and photos of the historic unveiling ceremony by former White House photographer Pete Souza, this book offers insight into what these paintings can tell us about the history of portraiture and American culture.


What We Are Reading Today: The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown

Updated 26 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans.

The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, “The Boys in the Boat” is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times, according to a review published on goodreads.com.

It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam’s “The Amateurs.”