Book Reviews – Under Fire & Becoming

I always have a wish list for Christmas which includes books. This past Christmas I received four. I just finished the second.

“Under Fire”

April Ryan is a White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Network. She is also a political analyst on CNN. Ryan has spent two decades in this correspondent position under three presidents. I’ve always admired her tenaciousness in getting her questions answered during White House press conferences. She is an intelligent source of information on cable news. Knowing these things about her I looked forward to reading her new book, “Under Fire.

The book was interesting as an inside, behind the scenes account of the past two years under the current POTUS. Two things about the book were disappointing, however. First, as a reporter, I expected Ryan to be an outstanding writer. In my opinion, she was not in this book, often repeating parts of her story. And, her story was truly HER STORY. Perhaps I should have expected that from the title and pre-publishing discussions. The message was a bit “poor me” but on the other hand, it seems she has legitimate grievances that result from being a black woman seeking answers for the African American community. 

The book is a quick read and worth the time to get a better view of the obstacles before people of color working in or around a very white government. 



Another book written by a well-known black woman, Michelle Obama, former FLOTUS, I would highly recommend. “Becoming” is a well written and very thorough autobiography of Obama’s life from early childhood in the South Side of Chicago through eight years of living in the White House as First Lady. Her life is impressive and the journey is thoroughly and honestly documented in this book. 

This is the first such thorough account I’ve read of what it is like to live in what the author calls the “bubble” of the Secret Service. Raising two young girls in this highly protected environment was very challenging and Obama is quite forthcoming about her concerns that her children grow up normally under such non-normal circumstances. 

This inside view of life in the White House includes accounts of foreign and domestic travel, campaigning, press coverage, pressures both small and colossal. The sheer size of the operation and number of staff to keep it operating was astonishing to me.

Michelle Obama is an intelligent and highly accomplished woman and I enjoyed reading about her life both as a professional and First Lady. 


“Historically, black women have suffered tremendously, but today’s black women are the triumph. We have choices, and that’s what freedom is all about: having the power to choose.” Susan L. Taylor