Some conclusions first -- Professor Cobb was never under any illusion that Obama's election somehow meant the end of U.S. racism.
That said, Cobb reminds the reader of the sheer improbability of the election of 2008.
Yup, that's where the audacity was located. Having dared to imagine a successful campaign, Obama and his people enjoyed astonishing luck (luck that seems to have run out now that he's in office). If the rest of us understood what happened in a mistaken way, it was that we underestimated the role of extraordinary and unearned good fortune that broke Obama's way -- a combination of G.W. Bush's extreme unpopularity, a financial crisis breaking in mid-season, and John McCain's entirely ham-handed campaign.
Cobb tackles the touchy aspects of Obama's rise, including his complex relationship with other African American leaders.
He plumbs the difficult issues the Obama family "brand" threw up for Black America.
This is dangerous territory, akin to exposing the family secrets, but Cobb goes there.
I've quoted a lot here simply because I know of no other way to interest potential readers in a book that it is all too easy to dismiss as a quickly outdated peon to a man and a moment that seem to be fading even from out memories. Hope is battered these days, apparently dead or dying. But a pretty "big fucking deal" (thanks, Joe Biden) happened in the election of 2008, and even as hope withers, it is still worth trying to understand and appreciate it. Professor Cobb has done his part.