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Barack Obama: The Story Hardcover – Jun 19 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 19 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781439160404
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439160404
  • ASIN: 1439160406
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.9 x 3.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #180,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas J. Frost on Aug. 6 2012
Format: Hardcover
I liked Maraniss' book on Clinton; thought it the best of the many written on him.

But I was disappointed in "Obama, The Story". Way too much about Africa and Indonesia,
and not nearly enough about how Obama came to be. Convoluted and difficult to read -
I almost put it down many times, but kept thinking, "There must be more here"...
there wasn't.

I noted that of the 50 reviews on Kindle, most of the positive ones gave few specifics
of why they loved it. Yet those more critical (like me) had plenty of examples of why
this is book was poor. I think that tells you something.

Obama may have been difficult to research, but that doesn't excuse Maraniss.

Nick Frost, Kelowna, Canada
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 136 reviews
91 of 115 people found the following review helpful
Strengths and weaknesses defined by nature and nurture June 28 2012
By jem - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Maraniss has the ability and the commitment to confront the age-old issue: how is our unique identify defined by our genes and our environment? Barack Obama is an exceptionally rich, but difficult, subject. The author is not writing a typical biography, but delivers the deepest and most revealing analysis of Obama that I've read.

However, this book is not for everyone. If you firmly believe Obama was not born in Hawaii, save yourself arguing with an author determined to discover truth. If you are an Obama loyalist who will be distressed to find that in "Dreams From My Father" he compressed chronology and assigned pseudonyms save yourself the disappointment.

If you find yourself both amazed and frustrated by Obama's abilites to function in interracial and international environments, his negotiating and compromising skills in problem-solving situations, his inspiring speeches and his aloof coolness, you will be rewarded with deeper understanding of a very complicated person.

Maraniss relies heavily on personal interviews rather than secondary sources and he finds many, many details not previously published. Traveling to Kenya, Kansas, Indonesia, Hawaii, California, New York, Chicago and Washington,DC he questions relatives, friends, and competitors, to create a thorough perspective of his very diverse subject. This book does not extend into Obama's political career, but focuses on his formative years moving through family, school, and community environments in which he is invariably -- and feels he is -- an outsider trying to find his place in the world.

I turned the final page feeling thankful for such an objective viewpoint during a time of high partisanship. It is comforting to realize our president is a human being shaped by the very institutions of the country he leads.
100 of 127 people found the following review helpful
The truest account of the forces that shaped Obama June 26 2012
By Z - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book reminds me in a way of Robert Penn Warren's masterpiece, "All the King's Men." WIth its gripping writing, color, characters and narrative, David Maraniss' "Barack Obama: The Story" feels like a great American novel.

Yet it is a meticulously researched, journalistic and true account of the forces that shaped our president's life. It begins decades before Obama was born and ends when he is still in his 20s. At a time of fleeting accounts of political figures, this book is for history.

Individual chapters could stand on their own as masterful tales of shifting politics and culture in places like Kansas, Kenya, Hawaii and Chicago in the years preceding and following Obama's birth. But they are all tied together by Obama's journey, and you find yourself moving through time and place, seeing it all through Obama's eyes -- as well as those of his family, friends, romantic partners.

This isn't an anti- or pro-Obama book. Maraniss does not praise or criticize the president. He doesn't throw bombshells. Nor does he need to. Rather, Maraniss has found every fact he can about Obama's history, pieced them together in a story that finds drama in Obama as a regular human being struggling with the question of who he is.

In short, Maraniss has pulled back every layer of artificiality about Obama's past -- promulgated by both Republicans and Democrats -- and written the truest account of the young life that shaped today's president.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Early Life of an Unusual Man Aug. 30 2012
By Joseph Palen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very well researched story of the young Barack Obama, his father, Kenyon Barack Obama Sr. (whose brilliance was compromised by arrogance and alcohol), his mother Anne, (who gave him the genes of an explorer of life, as an escapee from Kansas ), and the before-Michelle women in his life (notably, all white). It not only digs much deeper into his early life than Obama's "Dreams from My Father", it also spends a lot of time (too much I think) correcting and explaining the 1995 autobiography, which was a work of art, but by Obama's own admission played fast and loose with timelines and characters. The theme of the book is how, through a first class education, life experiences in Hawaii, Indonesia, Kenya, California, New York, and Chicago, Barack Obama became the person he is today, with the brilliance and ambition of his father, and the compassion infused fix-the-world-spirit of his mother.

Obama's mother's Midwest roots did not come from exactly an ideal white picket fence family, and included a grandmother who committed suicide, a father who was a big talker, but could not hold a job, and a mother who worked - something unheard of in Kansas, until WW II made it more necessary and then respectable. Moving many times for father to find a new job, and gradually moving west, they all ended up in Hawaii where Obama's mother briefly married his father from Kenya and bore him, then married an Indonesian and moved with Barack to Jakarta. Barack later went back to school in Hawaii, and on from there to Occidental, Columbia, and eventually to Harvard, where his father also studied.

His Father from Kenya was recognized by everyone he knew as exceptionally brilliant, but somewhat arrogant and difficult to deal with. He did have great charisma especially with women and attracted many women, several of them white, providing Barack Obama, his only namesake, with many half brothers and sisters. Although Barack Sr. did become an important man in the government of Kenya, he never achieved his full potential because of drinking and womanizing, and eventually was killed in a single car accident.

It was made clear in the book that Barack Obama Sr. was never a Moslem, even though his father was a nominal one, and Obama's mother was essentially an atheist, while respecting all religions and committed to helping others through such activities as her job with Ford Foundation. Obama came to the Christian religion after working with Black ministers in Chicago between his graduation from Columbia and his enrolling in Harvard.

This is mostly a 5 star book. However, there were a few disappointments. The main one was the abrupt end of the book at the point where Obama, after visiting Kenya left his Chicago organizing job to enter Harvard, with only a brief mention of two very important portions of his life - his mother's untimely death, and his courtship and winning of Michelle (after having relationships with three white women during his college years). Another weak point, in my opinion was the long and detailed account of Obama's second serious girl friend during his Columbia days - this apparently due mostly to the fact that the author had access to her journal. Also it was a little disconcerting for the author to concentrate so much space on how his account of Barack's life differs from Barack's own account, which Obama admitted contained composite characters and modified timelines for the purpose of better story flow.

That said, I learned a lot about many things in reading this well researched book, and highly recommend it to all who want to know more about this unusual man, the first Black President of the United States.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Maraniss' Obama Dec 14 2012
By John C. Garrett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very well researched, objective and non-partisan, with several well-written lyrical passages. Reading the book left me with the feeling that I now "personally" know our president. Indeed, this book should be "must reading" for the electorate in general and Obama's critics in particular (I'm a Republican)..

The 5th star would be there except for the couple of parts of the book which were simply "too much information", even for a semi-scholarly work like this one, viz., Obama Sr.'s tribal lineage, history, culture, etc., and (too a lesser extent) Ann's personal history.
27 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Deeply Researched, Fair, Compelling Bio July 10 2012
By The Book Guy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I found it interesting that in his published review of this book, Pulitzer Prize winner T.J. Stiles said he felt sorry for David Maraniss because he believed that many readers, on both sides of the political aisle, would dismiss this book without ever reading a page. They'd either think it was a hatchet job or a puff piece, just because that's how our political culture seems to work these days -- people are so unaccustomed to a political book without a slanted agenda. To Stiles' lament I'd add that it's a shame that many of the customer reviews on this page reflect less on the book itself than on the readers' opinions of the president. It's a shame, because this is a great biography. It's not a typical bio -- Maraniss calls it a "generational" biography, and the early chapters examine Obama's ancestors in both Kansas and Kenya, tracing the paths that led to the improbable meeting of Obama's mother and father in Hawaii. In its rich detail and terrific reporting (Maraniss traveled the globe to find friends, relatives and yes, ex-girlfriends) the rest of the book gives readers a deeper understanding of Obama's upbringing in Hawaii and Indonesia, his college years at Occidental and Columbia, and his first forays into the working world in New York and Chicago. We see how he made a very conscious decision to figure out who he was and what he wanted to do with his life. It was amazing to me to realize as I was reading this book just how little I really knew about the President of the United States, someone you'd think you know pretty well by this point. Maraniss has given us a deeper understanding of the president and the forces that shaped him, and because he avoids the politics of the moment (the book ends as Obama heads off to Harvard Law School), it's a book that will stand the test of time. Most refreshing to me, it's an even-handed book, allowing the reader to make their own judgements. Just what true history and biography should be. It's too bad so many people only seem interested in partisan agendas, not just on cable tv apparently, but in the books they read, too.

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