A Singular Woman by Janny Scott
The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother

76%

14 Critic Reviews

..."A Singular Woman" explores Dunham's years at the University of Hawaii and her studies at the East-West Center, an oasis of cultural and intellectual tolerance where she met both her husbands.
-LA Times

Synopsis

Watch a video A major publishing event: an unprecedented look into the life of the woman who most singularly shaped Barack Obama-his mother.

Barack Obama has written extensively about his father, but little is known about Stanley Ann Dunham, the fiercely independent woman who raised him, the person he credits for, as he says, "what is best in me." Here is the missing piece of the story.

Award-winning reporter Janny Scott interviewed nearly two hundred of Dunham's friends, colleagues, and relatives (including both her children), and combed through boxes of personal and professional papers, letters to friends, and photo albums, to uncover the full breadth of this woman's inspiring and untraditional life, and to show the remarkable extent to which she shaped the man Obama is today.

Dunham's story moves from Kansas and Washington state to Hawaii and Indonesia. It begins in a time when interracial marriage was still a felony in much of the United States, and culminates in the present, with her son as our president- something she never got to see. It is a poignant look at how character is passed from parent to child, and offers insight into how Obama's destiny was created early, by his mother's extraordinary faith in his gifts, and by her unconventional mothering. Finally, it is a heartbreaking story of a woman who died at age fifty-two, before her son would go on to his greatest accomplishments and reflections of what she taught him.
 

About Janny Scott

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Janny Scott was a reporter for The New York Times from 1994 to 2009, when she left to write this book. In 2008 she contributed six long, biographical articles for the Times series on the lives of the presidential candidates. She was part of the reporting team that won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. She lives in New York City.
 
Published May 3, 2011 by Riverhead Books. 396 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on May 22 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for A Singular Woman
All: 14 | Positive: 13 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good

A biography of considerable depth and understanding.

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NY Times

Above average
on May 13 2011

Through interviews with Dunham’s relatives, friends and colleagues; at least one possible lover; and her two children...Scott pursues a more perplexing and elusive figure than the one Obama pieced together in his own books.

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NY Times

Good
on May 02 2011

We get a much fuller story of Ms. Dunham’s life in “A Singular Woman,” Janny Scott’s richly researched, unsentimental book.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on May 02 2011

Scott gives us a vivid, affecting profile of an unsung feminist pioneer who made breaking down barriers a family tradition and whose legacy extends well beyond her presidential son.

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LA Times

Above average
on May 03 2011

..."A Singular Woman" explores Dunham's years at the University of Hawaii and her studies at the East-West Center, an oasis of cultural and intellectual tolerance where she met both her husbands.

Read Full Review of A Singular Woman: The Untold ... | See more reviews from LA Times

Christian Science Monitor

Good
on May 27 2011

Scott’s biography provides ample evidence of the bright, idealistic dreamer who endued her son with the kind of spirit that made breaking barriers a possibility.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Above average
on May 07 2011

The story of the "singular woman" at the center of this book is told, and told well, by Scott...

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Denver Post

Above average
on May 11 2011

Through Scott's meticulous reporting, archival research and extensive interviews with Dunham's colleagues...a portrait emerges of a woman who is both disciplined and disorganized, blunt-spoken and empathetic, driven and devoted to her children...

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Tampa Bay Times

Excellent
on Jun 03 2011

...Scott's book provides a readable narrative and rich detail, portraying Obama's mother as sophisticated world traveler with a zest for life.

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Slate

Above average
on May 09 2011

Scott leaves us with a better idea where this feline quality comes from. Mom was like that, too.

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PopMatters

Good
on Feb 08 2012

...readers may come to understand why the US president was initially reticent about his unconventional mother, but they also see, quite clearly, how she shaped him and his leadership choices for the United States and, by extension, the world.

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Macleans

Good
on May 19 2011

Scott succeeds admirably in keeping the focus on Dunham in a way that still illuminates the president.

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Chicago Tribune

Below average
on Jun 21 2011

...Dunham's story would have been richer still had Scott allowed this remarkable woman to seem just a little bit like the rest of us.

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News Review.

Above average
on Jun 09 2011

Dunham’s life provides rich insight into her son, and into lots of people of her generation who, in part, shared her journey.

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Reader Rating for A Singular Woman
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