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Renegades summary

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen

Born in the USA

4.1 (327 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

Renegades, by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen, is a personal and political memoir that explores their lives and reflections on America’s issues, such as race, fatherhood, and marriage.

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    Renegades
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    Two Sides of the Country

    So Springsteen and Obama are connected by lofty ideals – that commitment to facing the facts and building a better future. But that’s not all they’ve got in common. For starters, these two men, raised on opposite sides of America, were both fortunate enough to have strong mothers. It was their mothers, not their fathers, who were dependable, supportive, always there. It was their mothers who were the rocks in the family. 

    Springsteen’s father was silent, more of a stone than a rock. He was a veteran of World War II, “a truck driver at the Battle of the Bulge,” as Springsteen puts it. But the silence – Springsteen never broke through it, never felt that he really knew his father. When Springsteen was much older, he sat his father down, asked him questions, tried to get him to tell his story on camera. The conversation was over in a matter of minutes. Complicating things further, his father had a history of schizophrenia. He jumped from job to job. And his mental illness only got worse with age.

    So mom was the rock. She had the steady job. And Springsteen relied on her for many things – but because she had to work, he was largely unsupervised, free to roam the streets, free to do as he wished.

    Obama’s life looked different. He wasn’t skipping school or roaming any streets. But, like Springsteen, he relied on his mom. She was the source of love and stability in Obama’s family – just as Springsteen’s mom was in his. You see, Obama’s parents separated less than three years after he was born. He had a stepfather for a while, from age six to ten, but for the most part it was him and his mother. She was caring, loving, kind, and, though she was white, she raised him to feel confident and proud, comfortable in his own skin.

    This was important. In Hawaii, there weren’t many people who looked like Obama, and he felt like an outsider. Not that skin color is the only thing that can make you feel out of place. Springsteen was surrounded by people who more or less resembled him, and he also felt like a misfit.

    Even as a kid, Springsteen knew that his situation was peculiar. Other children had more structure, stability, and guidance. They weren’t allowed to come and go as they pleased. They weren’t allowed to stay up late. Their lives were governed by rules – something that Springsteen’s life definitely lacked. As a result, Springsteen felt adrift: he had nowhere to fit in and no path forward. Obama has a term for what Springsteen experienced as a child, his feelings of being on the outside. He calls it “emotional displacement.”

    But, then again, wasn’t America founded by misfits, outsiders, and the displaced? Isn’t part of what makes America great the fact that it’s a place where people from every walk of life can come to start anew? Certainly, that’s what Obama was talking about in his speech to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches. And it’s also what Springsteen likes to sing about. So, maybe the friendship between these two guys isn’t so unlikely after all. They’re connected by lofty ideals, sure – by their vision of a country undivided, their belief in the promise of the future. But they’re also connected by their past experiences, and by the promises that their country may not have lived up to.

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    What is Renegades about?

    Renegades (2021) documents eight intimate and enlightening conversations between two living legends: the musician Bruce Springsteen and the former US president Barack Obama. These two friends delve into some of the issues that have defined both of their careers, including American identity, fatherhood, class and racial divides, wrestling with the past, and maintaining hope for the future.

    Renegades Review

    Renegades (2021) is a captivating collaboration between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen, as they explore their lives, values, and the state of America today. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Bringing together the perspectives of a former president and a legendary musician, it offers a fascinating and unique insight into politics, culture, and the American Dream.
    • With honest and introspective storytelling, the book delves into the challenges faced by individuals and communities, sparking conversations about unity and change.
    • Through their shared experiences, Obama and Springsteen inspire hope and resilience, reminding readers of the power each person has to make a difference in the world.

    Who should read Renegades?

    • American citizens concerned about the country’s future
    • Fans of “the Boss” and the forty-fourth president
    • Music buffs

    About the Author

    Barack Obama, a former community organizer and US senator, served as president of the United States of America between 2009 and 2017. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, he is the author of multiple best-selling books, including The Audacity of Hope and A Promised Land.

    Bruce Springsteen is a musician and songwriter with over 20 studio albums to his name. He’s won multiple Grammy Awards, as well as an Academy Award and a Tony Award, and he’s the author of the best-selling book Born to Run.

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    Renegades FAQs 

    What is the main message of Renegades?

    The main message of Renegades is a powerful dialogue on hope, unity, and the importance of finding common ground.

    How long does it take to read Renegades?

    The reading time for Renegades varies depending on the reader's pace, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Renegades a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Renegades is worth reading as it offers an insightful and inspiring conversation between two influential figures, providing unique perspectives on various issues.

    Who is the author of Renegades?

    The authors of Renegades are Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen.

    What to read after Renegades?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Renegades, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Say Nothing by Patrick Keefe
    • The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
    • The Wager by David Grann
    • Oath and Honor by Liz Cheney
    • The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
    • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
    • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
    • From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks
    • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
    • American Prometheus by Kai Bird & Martin J Sherwin