Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9781439160411, 641pp.
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
In Barack Obama: The Story, David Maraniss has written a deeply reported generational biography teeming with fresh insights and revealing information, a masterly narrative drawn from hundreds of interviews, including with President Obama in the Oval Office, and a trove of letters, journals, diaries, and other documents.
The book unfolds in the small towns of Kansas and the remote villages of western Kenya, following the personal struggles of Obama's white and black ancestors through the swirl of the twentieth century. It is a roots story on a global scale, a saga of constant movement, frustration and accomplishment, strong women and weak men, hopes lost and deferred, people leaving and being left. Disparate family threads converge in the climactic chapters as Obama reaches adulthood and travels from Honolulu to Los Angeles to New York to Chicago, trying to make sense of his past, establish his own identity, and prepare for his political future.
Barack Obama: The Story chronicles as never before the forces that shaped the first black president of the United States and explains why he thinks and acts as he does. Much like the author's classic study of Bill Clinton, First in His Class, this promises to become a seminal book that will redefine a president.
“This is a revelatory book . . . which will certainly shape our understanding of President Obama’s strengths, weaknesses and inscrutabilities. Every few pages Maraniss offers a factual nugget that changes or enlarges the prevailing lore.”
“[This] book is full of riveting stories, shrewd observations, and fascinating details.”
“Barack Obama is biography at its best. A prodigiously researched and exquisitely written multigenerational account…. With subtlety and sophistication, Maraniss captures and conveys Obama's sensibilities and sensitivities.”
“Remarkable . . . Maraniss captures Obama’s search for purpose and the kindling of his ambition with an intimacy unlike that of other biographers—including Obama….[The book] offers the rawest account of his early life and a deeper understanding of his origins. Three and a half years and countless publications after Obama’s Inauguration, that is a remarkable feat.”
“Barack Obama is a work of monumental ambition. …Maraniss’ exhaustive research and lucid writing expands exponentially our knowledge of the president’s history.”
“There's far more to this revealing and deeply reported coming-of-age story, a term usually applied to novels….[It] reads like a novel filled with stories too unlikely for fiction . . . which makes it the best kind of political biography.”
“Impeccably researched…. Stunning in its detail… Maraniss… gets out of the way and lets his first-rate reporting tell the story. . . . It is like watching a magician at work”