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Americans have never felt so excited, and yet so depressed
One night, in a bar in Zanzibar, I saw two sex workers chatting up a couple of Germans. The men were in their 50s, paunchy and balding - the women were young and pretty. It was a painful sight, the Germans plying the women with drinks and single entendre; the women laughing as though their lives depended on it, which in a way they did.
Obama's army of supporters must maintain their level of activism
Steve Thompson is heading home. Over the last year he has travelled the country volunteering for President-elect Barack Obama. Thompson, 68, volunteered for Obama in Maryland, Texas, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Virginia during the primaries. Since mid-June he has been living with a local family in Roanoke, Virginia, working 12 hours a day, seven days a week on the campaign. When I called him late on Saturday afternoon, Thompson, who is retired, was in the soon-to-be vacated Obama office, cleaning the windows, before heading home to Washington DC early this week.
Journey of generations that passed in a moment
There are times when the usually glacial pace of social progress accelerates to such a degree that you feel you are experiencing it in real time. Stand in the present and history comes rushing towards you, making you feel lightheaded.
'Ain't no stopping us now'


Voters wait in line at a polling station in Chicago on Tuesday. Photograph: Nam Y Huh/AP
Obama's hometown of Chicago confident in his chances
At the President's Lounge bar on Chicago's southside on Monday night all the talk was about 'the wait'. Harold Davis tried to vote early a few days before but after two hours he had to go to work. Z, the barmaid, said she didn't care how long the lines were she would not leave until the deed was done. Her friend, on the other side of the bar, she would give it an hour.
'It's a historic event. If they want to be there, they should'
Chicago is bracing itself for a huge and possibly chaotic street party as more than a million people are expected to descend on the city centre tonight in anticipation of a victory for Democratic presidential hopeful, Barack Obama.
US election: Chicago prepares for massive election night rally
Chicago was today bracing itself for a huge and possibly chaotic street party as more than a million people were expected to descend on the city centre tomorrow night in anticipation of a victory for Democratic presidential hopeful, Barack Obama.
'Did you think it would come to this?'


Barack Obama boards his plane at Orlando International airport. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty images
With victory in sight, wary Democrats don't yet dare to believe
The best way to experience an Obama rally is to listen to him while watching the audience. Barack Obama is, of course, impressive. His speeches, like his suits, are meticulously measured. In this final week they are tailored to consolidate rather than convince. Though he is reed-thin, he can fill an auditorium, stadium or park with his presence as well as with people. With a big smile full of white teeth, he looks like the most all-American candidate the Republican party has had the misfortune to attempt to dismiss as non-American and demonise as anti-American.


Barack Obama is greeted by supporters in Springfield, Illinois in February 2007 as he formally announces that he running for president. Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA
Me, my son and Obama: one father's story
The day we brought my new-born son home to our Brooklyn apartment, an article in the New York Times pointed out that "a black male who drops out of high school [in the US] is 60 times more likely to find himself in prison than one with a bachelor's degree". These are the kind of statistics I often quote in my work. But this time it was personal. Looking down at him as he snoozed in the brand new car seat, I thought: "Those are not great odds. I'd better buy some more children's books."
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Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
book review
'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
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