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New Book: Obama’s Challenge to be Launched at the DNC!

We’re proud to announce the publication of Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency by Robert Kuttner—a surprise book to be launched at the Democratic National Convention in Denver at the end of the month.

In this urgent and important book, Robert Kuttner, who is known for his acclaimed economic journalism as well as being cofounder of The American Prospect and a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the think tank Demos, explains what a President Obama must do to solve America’s economic crisis—the gravest since the Great Depression—and, in the process, become a truly transformative leader.

As Obama’s Challenge eloquently explains, transformative presidents have been leaders who rose to greatness in moments of extreme crisis, and who took themselves and the Republic to places that seemed impossible—Lincoln, Roosevelt, and the LBJ of the civil rights era. As Kuttner writes in Obama’s Challenge:

Now it is time for the wheel to turn again. Barack Obama has both the national moment and the raw material to be a transformative president. A 46-year-old freshman senator, an African-American no less, does not decide to pursue his party’s nomination against a universally presumed certain nominee unless he has an unerring sense of timing, confidence, and a feel for the broad stroke. Obama has exceptional skill at appealing to our better angels, and a fine capacity to be president-as-teacher. He inspires, as only a few presidents have done. But Obama will need to be a more radical president than he was a presidential candidate. Radical does not mean outside the mainstream. It means perceiving, as a leader, that radical change is necessary, discerning tacit aspirations and unmet needs in the people, and then making that radical change the mainstream view for which the people clamor.

We will be distributing several thousand advance reading copies at Democratic National Convention events throughout the week, as well as coupons for a special early discount in welcome packets to 15,000 convention-goers. The coupons are redeemable on and the book will be printed on-demand by BookSurge, part of the Amazon group of companies. The title will be available to order on as soon as coupons are distributed on the first day of the convention, August 25.

Although the publication of thousands of advance copies and exclusive early availability on Amazon is a first for Chelsea Green—the 25-year pioneer of books about the politics and practice of sustainable living—it is not the first time we’ve rushed out timely and influential books. George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant! (2004) and Naomi Wolf’s The End of the America (2007) were both published as original trade paperbacks to promote an activist, progressive agenda and became New York Times bestsellers shortly after they were released.

As Margo Baldwin, our President and Publisher, states, “The point is not to publish another Obama book; the point is to change the political conversation similar to what we did when we published Lakoff and Wolf. A President Obama holds great promise for this country but he needs to be challenged to step up and risk a bold, progressive agenda. The economic situation is dire. If he tries to play safe, he’s finished. Bob Kuttner has brilliantly outlined the steps he needs to take to be that transformative leader. Now it’s up to him—and to us—to make sure he takes up that challenge.”

“We had initially decided to pre-write the book, wait to see who won, and then either publish in January or have a big bonfire,” says Kuttner. “But Margo Baldwin at Chelsea Green decided to take an even bigger risk: to get the book out by Labor Day on the assumption that Obama will be the next president. Talk about the audacity of hope!”

Baldwin adds, “Once we aimed for Labor Day, we then wondered what it would take to get it out by the Democratic convention and into the hands of the fifteen to twenty thousand convention-goers who are the book’s natural audience. Printing a special pre-publication edition through BookSurge, Amazon’s print-on-demand division, seemed like the natural solution.

“This election is too important to wait around for traditional publishing lead times. The book needs to come out now if it’s to have a major impact. The technology is available to have books on the day the book files are sent off to the printer. And that’s what we’re doing and Amazon has been an amazing partner in this effort.”

Early Praise for Obama’s Challenge:

“Robert Kuttner has incisively captured the political moment, underscored by the deepening economic crisis. Lucidly and passionately, he lays out the hurdles facing an Obama presidency and challenges him to seize the moment and achieve greatness by redeeming the promise of America.”
Arianna Huffington, cofounder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post

“Bob Kuttner hits the high notes with artful precision, lifting expectations and articulating the steps that can make Barack Obama a great president—while setting forth a strong and highly readable call for comprehensive and essential economic change.”
John Sweeney, President of AFL-CIO

“A manifesto, forceful but fair, by a leading political economist who lays out a bold but solid program if Obama is elected. As current as the morning’s newspaper, this book should be read by all activists—especially Barack Obama.”
James MacGregor Burns, author of Leadership

“As Kuttner convincingly argues, a President Barack Obama will have an historic opportunity to radically transform America’s direction—but only if he rejects the tired centrist policies of the past and inspires his fellow citizens to forge new progressive paths. Kuttner systematically lays out the case for why Obama should give full voice to a robust progressive message at a time when the American people are suffering from years of conservative policy. Obama’s Challenge is an enlightening road map for all Americans who hunger for a change in direction and priorities in America, and who hope Obama can be our leading agent of change.”
Markos Moulitsas, founder of, author of Taking on the System and co-author of Crashing the Gate

Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency
by Robert Kuttner
Chelsea Green Publishing
ISBN 978-1-60358-079-3 / Paperback, 224 pages, 5 3/8″ x 8 3/8″
$14.95 USD
Publication date: September 15, 2008 / Release date for Pre-Publication Edition: August 25, 2008

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