Check out Vijay Prashad’s review of The Breakthrough

By Julianne Hing Mar 02, 2009

The Breakthrough began its public life as a putative scandal during the 2008 presidential campaign. John McCain’s cadaverous team tried to suggest that PBS journalist Gwen Ifill could not be neutral in the debate between Republican Sarah Palin and Democrat Joe Biden, pretty much on the strength of this forthcoming book. Extracts from it (including a frothy story in the September 2008 issue of Essence) and hype from the publishers convinced the McCain team and the right-wing blogging machine that Ifill would favor Joe Biden. What everyone seemed to worry about, it seemed to me, was that both long-winded, windy Biden and intense, insipid Palin would pale in comparison to the witty Ifill. I was excited to read the book. Ifill is plainly thrilled with the ascent of President Barack Obama. But Obama, for her, is not an isolated example. He exemplifies something broader: a generation of mainly Black men who have risen to positions of state power. These are also men who are not restricted to districts with a majority Black population, congressional districts and cities that have been the safe boroughs of the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Conference of Black Mayors. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Alabama Congressman Artur Davis are the main figures whom, along with Obama, have broken through—have made it to the higher echelons of political power. It is their remarkable journey not as individuals, but as members of a generation, that Ifill hopes to chronicle in The Breakthrough. And she also hopes to prove that the success of these three men means whites are now comfortable electing Blacks to political office.

Head on over to to read the rest of "It’s not a new generation of Black leaders. It’s a new politic," Vijay Prashad’s review of Gwen Ifill’s new book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.