Barack Obama: The Story (Hardcover)

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From the author of First In His Class, the definitive biography of Bill Clinton, and When Pride Still Mattered, the bestselling biography of Vince Lombardi, and They Marched Into Sunlight, the classic saga of the Vietnam era—a stunning new multigenerational biography of Barack Obama.

From one of our preeminent journalists and modern historians comes the epic story of Barack Obama and the world that created him.

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.

About the Author

David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and was a finalist three other times. Among his bestselling books are biographies of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Roberto Clemente, and Vince Lombardi, and a trilogy about the 1960s—Rome 1960; Once in a Great City (winner of the RFK Book Prize); and They Marched into Sunlight (winner of the J. Anthony Lucas Prize and Pulitzer Finalist in History). A Good American Family is his twelfth book.

Praise For…

“…this is a revelatory book, which anyone interested in modern politics will want to read, and 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….a richer view of the man we have become familiar with, without really knowing…. after this book we know one public figure much better.” The New York Times Book Review

“Maraniss delivers….The power of Maraniss’s reporting becomes apparent in his treatment of the future President’s ‘dark years’…. 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.” —TIME

“Book is full of riveting stories, shrewd observations, and fascinating details. It’s like reading Michener….There is something quite searching and wonderful about seeing much of history as a chaos of chance.” The New Yorker

“‘Barack Obama’ is a biography at its best. A prodigiously researched and exquisitely written multigenerational account….Almost without exception, Maraniss' assessments are judicious and persuasive….With subtlety and sophistication, Maraniss captures and conveys Obama's sensibilities and sensitivities.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“This biography possesses a richness and scope that cannot be captured in short-form journalism, magazine excerpts or a mere review. Maraniss has written a global, multigenerational saga that culminates in the emergence of a young man who is knowable, recognizable and real....Maraniss approaches the task with deep research, crisp, clean writing and judicious reflection that never seems intrusive. He not only succeeds, he makes it look easy.” —The Washington Post

"It's not often that a book has the potential to change the course of political history, which is why this one is probably the most eagerly anticipated American book of the year." —

“By showing us the young Barack Obama—breathing, moving across the world, traversing the bloodknot of race in America alongside family, relationships, and the hurly-burly of Chicago—David Maraniss has shown us a human soul growing almost inch by inch. This is a work of literature, and it possesses the kind of brilliance and verve that would have made James Baldwin himself proud.”
Wil Haygood, author of King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

“The books of David Maraniss are like majestic rivers rolling to the sea, gathering in all the other confluences as they go, gaining their incredible subsurface force. But here, in a multigenerational portrait of a young man owning the most improbable history, Maraniss has outdone himself. Finally, you can understand the man who became the 44th president.”
Paul Hendrickson, author of Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved, and Lost, 1934-1961

“Maraniss offers not just a beautifully written book, but a real insight into what goes on behind the veil.”
The Hill

“This is a highly textured and intimate look at the family stories behind Obama …A thoroughly fascinating, multigenerational biography that explores broader social and political changes even as it highlights the elements that shaped one man’s life.”—Booklist, starred review

“Another in the author’s line of authoritative biographies…Maraniss’ portrayal…is masterful and moving.”—Kirkus Reviews

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9781439160404
ISBN-10: 1439160406
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 19th, 2012
Pages: 672
Language: English