New book highlights Obama's early political career, showing rise of grassroots and Netroots
“Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers Did It,” examines Obama’s early political career, showing the rise of his grassroots and Netroots organizations through the eyes and experiences of John Presta, a popular Beverly/Morgan Park independent bookstore owner and neighborhood resident.
Presta and his wife Michelle, both community activists and organizers, were running their bookstore, Reading on Walden, when Obama’s campaign asked for help in his 2000 race for Congress. Instantly impressed after meeting Obama, the Prestas came on board. They soon became known as “Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots” in the Obama campaign, and Barack Obama himself called them his “southwest side powerhouses.”
The book provides an engaging, detailed account of the Prestas’ personal interactions with Obama and how they, together with Obama and his early campaign workers, slowly and steadily built a grassroots organization around a highly committed group of some 300 volunteers. It shows how Obama and individual grassroots and “netroots” organizers put together a successful campaign despite the Chicago political machine and won the 2004 Senate race, causing immediate speculation about Obama for President.
With great insight into a younger Barack Obama’s character, vision, self confidence and determination, “Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots” shows how change comes slowly, gradually, incrementally, and suddenly, and how one person — or two — can make a world-changing difference.
Dan Shomon, former Campaign Manager and Political Director for Sen. Barack Obama, said, “Michelle and John were really there at the beginning. They were true grassroots organizers, and John's memory and the intimate details of this book provide a true picture of the real story of Barack Obama's meteoric rise. It was people like Michelle and John who really made it happen and stuck their neck out for the skinny guy with the funny name."
The book also contains 30 pages of unique photos of Obama, the Prestas, the 300 volunteers and other key people and events in Obama campaigns from 2000 through the 2008 Presidential race. It also shows the importance of independent bookstores and their community impact; shows how everyday people can unknowingly impact on the world; provides a primer on organizing a grassroots and Netroots political campaign; helps answer “what can we do now?”; provides a history of locally and nationally prominent Chicago and Illinois politicians; and inspires with its theme: change comes slowly, gradually, incrementally, and suddenly.
A Chicago native who has worked at several Chicago newspapers, Presta is a nationally known blogger on politics and books for the Chicago Examiner, one of the leading online newspapers in the world. He also contributes to several political blogs, including the Daily Kos.