The Promise by Jonathan Alter

The barrage of Obamacentric books continues. The latest is The Promise (Simon & Schuster; $28), a 480-page account of the president’s first year in office by Jonathan Alter, a senior editor at Newsweek. Alter grew up six blocks from Wrigley Field and began his career as a freelancer for the now-defunct Chicago Journalism Review. He based his book on more than 200 interviews from inside and outside government. “I wanted it to be a balanced account that was as close to historical as I could make it,” says Alter, who chronicles personal moments—basketball on election day, reporting “roses and thorns” around the First Family dinner table—while analyzing Obama’s response to “the worst set of problems of any incoming president since [Franklin] Roosevelt in 1933.” That’s familiar territory: Alter’s last book, The Defining Moment, reflected on FDR’s first 100 days in office.