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Grace: President Obama and the Ten Days in the Battle for America by Cody Keenan


Does the moment meet the person or the person meet the moment?

Maybe both answers could be true for former President Barack Obama when he learned about the killing of nine African American parishioners at Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015 by white supremacist Dylan Roof. For speechwriter Cody Keenan, he observed the president’s demeanor during the first awful hours the nation heard about the terrible incident. In this riveting book, Keenan lays out the 10 days that led to Obama’s eulogy, which was anchored in the familiar hymn, “Amazing Grace,” by former slave trader John Newton. 

Keenan takes the reader through the contact sport of a speechwriter who had many White House staff pitching him to get their policy requests into the president’s remarks on any given day. He allows us a VIP pass as he juggled writing words for Obama’s legislative and judicial acts such as the Affordable Care Act, Marriage Equality Act, and other policy actions. It all somehow resembles sausage making. But Keenan makes the read fun and engaging. 

In those 10 days, Obama tried to meet the moment of tragedy without revenge or resentment, with the right words that could speak to America’s better angels. Keenan observed that how one responds to such heinous acts can possibly begin to heal a small part of America’s soul. This book makes a great conversation starter for study groups and adult education opportunities on forgiveness and gospel of grace. (Harper Collins)  


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