‘The Nation’ Special Issue Celebrates Barack Obama’s Historic Presidency

‘The Nation’ Special Issue Celebrates Barack Obama’s Historic Presidency

‘The Nation’ Special Issue Celebrates Barack Obama’s Historic Presidency

Featuring specially commissioned contributions from Marilynne Robinson, Christopher Hayes, Andrew Bacevich, Kai Wright, Joan Walsh, Eric Foner, and many, many more.


CONTACT: Caitlin Graf, The Nation, press [at] thenation.com, 212-209-5400

New York, NY—December 15, 2016As 2016 draws to a close and the specter of President Trump looms large, The Nation celebrates Barack Obama’s historic presidency with a special issue, “The Obama Years: 2008—2016.” (January 2/9, 2017, cover date, 84 pages, perfect bound, on stands later this month).

The magazine gathers some of the greatest American writers, thinkers, and historians to thoughtfully evaluate Obama’s legacy in the immediate—with an eye to those who would protect it, and those who would seek to destroy it. A stunning collection of contemporary contributors take a measure of this unprecedented cultural and political moment, assessing Obama’s record across the most pressing crises of our time: race, climate change, social justice, Republican obstructionism, media malpractice, economics, foreign relations, and more.

“The achievements and complexities of President Obama’s tenure are many. The writers in our special issue dissect its significance, document American identity in the Age of Obama, and envision his political, social, and racial legacy in 20, 30 years—fearful of its evisceration by Donald Trump,” says editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel.

In addition to fresh contributions by a blockbuster line-up of writers, “The Obama Years” is dappled with illuminating archival content. Excerpts published over the course of Obama’s rise feature some of the best that was thought and said by Nation writers—much of it eerily prescient, all of it fascinating to read. This includes The Nation’s first Obama cover story of March 2007, “L’Étranger,” by columnist Patricia J. Williams, a biting appraisal of Obama’s racial “transcendence.”

In the wake of the 2016 election’s results, The Nation magazine saw a record 660 percent jump in subscriptions and new traffic heights on TheNation.com. Our journalists, columnists, and editors remain committed to accountability journalism, essential commentary, and in-depth reporting well into the next presidency—moving past the horse race to take seriously outside voices and alternative perspectives in American politics, and to speak truth to power in this extraordinary new era.

Indeed, columnist Katha Pollitt writes what so many of us are now thinking: “I miss him already. Say what you like, President Barack Hussein Obama is supremely intelligent, witty, humane, reasonable, elegant, a great writer, a model father, a good husband, a decent human being. He has empathy and humor. He is sane and calm. He gave us eight years free of scandal and drama.”

Select contributors available for interview. For booking requests or further information, please see contact information above.

The Nation Special Issue

The Obama Years: 2008—2016

Table of Contents

Christopher Hayes, How Will History Judge Barack Obama?
The president succeeded in repairing our institutions—but millions of Americans wanted to blow them up instead.

Gary Younge, The Deferred Dream of Barack Obama
His presidency remains symbolic—but it has become an emblem of America’s refusal to truly change.

Laila Lalami, What Happened to the Change We Once Believed In
After two terms, Obama leaves behind a legacy of promises kept—and broken.

Eric Alterman, Barack Obama Was Too Cool for the Press Room
The president’s insistence on thinking before acting drove the media around the bend… and towards Donald Trump.

Katha Pollitt, I Miss Our Sane, Calm, Empathetic, Funny, President Already
Before Trump’s election, we on the left didn’t give President Obama enough credit. Why?

Bryce Covert and Mike Konczal, Obama Was Not an Economic Radical. Trump Will Be.
President Obama’s economic reforms were modest—but they’re definitely worth fighting for.

Marilynne Robinson, A Proof, a Test, an Instruction
Obama is ours, in the deep sense that Lincoln is ours.

Greg Grandin, The Strange Career of American Exceptionalism
…and Barack Obama’s curious role as its most ardent recent champion and prominent victim.

Andrew J. Bacevich, Barack Obama’s Crash Course in Foreign Policy
After eight years on the job and many mistakes, he has gone from callow rookie to seasoned veteran.

David Cole, Obama’s Civil Rights Legacy—And Ours
Today’s turmoil in race relations may be a testament to the progress his administration made.

Robert L. Borosage, Was Barack Obama a Transformational President?
Despite his bold promises, the president put more energy into rescuing, rather than changing, the old system.

Kai Wright, Black Life and Death in the Age of Obama
His presidency saw new opportunities for black Americans—as well as the resurgence of white supremacy.

Joan Walsh, Which Way Does the Arc of Obama’s Moral Universe Bend?
Liberals once thought Obama would transcend race—but even his moderate views ended up provoking a whitelash.

Patricia J. Williams, Obama Did Not Fail Us—We Failed Each Other
And we failed to see the storm clouds of 2016 gathering behind the first black president.

Joelle Gamble, Michelle Obama, Between Respectability and Radicalism
While we took pride in the First Lady, activists changed what she could do.

Adrienne Kennedy, The Mysterious Magnetism of Michelle Obama
How did the first lady, a model of intelligence and grace, manage to keep her composure?

Dana Goldstein, The Education of Barack Obama
Only recently has the president focused on progressive issues like school funding and desegregation. Don’t expect Trump to do the same.

Mark Hertsgaard, Obama’s Record on Climate Change Provides Lessons for Taking on President Trump
The past eight years have proven that pressure from ordinary people can counterbalance elite interests.

Siva Vaidhyanathan, Was Obama Silicon Valley’s President?
The industry pinned its hopes on him early on.

Eric Foner, American Radicals and the Change We Could Believe In
The Obama era reminded us all that popular movements play an essential role as catalysts for political action.


Founded by abolitionists in 1865, The Nation has chronicled the breadth and depth of American political and cultural life from the debut of the telegraph to the rise of Twitter, serving as a critical, independent voice in American journalism and a platform for investigative reporting and spirited debate on issues of import to the progressive community. Through changing times and fashions, The Nation and TheNation.com offer consistently informed and inspired reporting and analysis of breaking news, politics, social issues and the arts—never faltering in our editorial commitment to what Nation Publisher Emeritus Victor Navasky has called “a dissenting, independent, trouble-making, idea-launching journal of critical opinion.”

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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