Barack Obama by David Maraniss

76%

26 Critic Reviews

Barack Obama: The Story portrays decided talents, influences, reactions and even the early goal of the presidency.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

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 David Maraniss

See more books from this Author
David Maraniss, an associate editor at The Washington Post, is the author of critically acclaimed bestselling books on Bill Clinton, Vince Lombardi, Vietnam and the sixties, Roberto Clemente, and the 1960 Rome Olympics. He won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Clinton, was part of a Post team that won the 2007 Pulitzer for coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy, and has been a Pulitzer finalist three other times, including in the nonfiction history category for They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967. He lives in Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wisconsin.
 
Published June 19, 2012 by Simon & Schuster. 674 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jul 08 2012
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Critic reviews for Barack Obama
All: 26 | Positive: 20 | Negative: 6

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by JAMES FALLOWS on Jun 14 2012

We never fully know public figures, least of all one whose identity so much involves cool, deliberate reserve. But after this book we know one public figure much better.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Jun 04 2012

Through illuminating interviews with Mr. Obama’s former high school and college classmates...Mr. Maraniss...does an energetic job of filling in the outlines of the president’s formative years.

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Jonathan Karl on Jun 15 2012

In the memoir, Mr. Obama's experience at Business International, mentioned only briefly, is used as a device to portray a great temptation...

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Star Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Kevin Duchschere on Jul 14 2012

His groundbreaking work and exhaustive research ensure that "The Story" is the volume that future Obama biographers reach for first.

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Washington Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Claude Marx on Jul 06 2012

Mr. Obama is a complex and controversial person who is something of an enigma. Those who want to understand him better would do well to read “Barack Obama: The Story.”

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Globe and Mail

Above average
Reviewed by Roger Morris on Jun 29 2012

Barack Obama: The Story portrays decided talents, influences, reactions and even the early goal of the presidency.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by David Lauter on Jun 17 2012

Yet it is the book's other narrative — the description of the kindling of Obama's ambition — that will almost certainly attract the greatest readership even though it is also the most elusive of the book's themes.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by T.J. Stiles on Jun 04 2012

Maraniss has written a global, multigenerational saga that culminates in the emergence of a young man who is knowable, recognizable and real.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Stephen Howe on Jul 14 2012

...this is an engrossing and sometimes rousing book, giving a more intimate picture of a serving President than any other writer has done.

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Christian Science Monitor

Excellent
Reviewed by Kevin Hartnett on Jun 18 2012

"Barack Obama: The Story" adds considerably to our understanding of the 44th president even if it doesn’t offer a significantly better sense of exactly why Obama pursued power or precisely what he wants to do with it

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USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Bob Minzesheimer on Jun 14 2012

I suspect that if the president, whom Maraniss interviewed, had time to read all 641 pages...he might find the book too revealing to thank the author. Which makes it the best kind of political biography.

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The Boston Globe

Excellent
Reviewed by Dayo Olopade on Jun 17 2012

The book finally confirms that Obama may be the most coincidental president of our times. But the coincidence is part of the Obama magic — proof that a random family can still tell a good story.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Glenn Altschuler on Jul 02 2012

His "Barack Obama" is biography at its best. A prodigiously researched and exquisitely written multigenerational account that begins in Kenya and ...ends before Obama gets a law degree from Harvard and enters politics.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Good
Reviewed by Tony Norman on Jul 01 2012

The next volume should be a doozy now that Mr. Maraniss has established the ground work that helps us understand who and what kind of man the president is.

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Journal Sentinel

Excellent
Reviewed by Christian Schneider on Jul 09 2012

It is a biography drawn on an epic scope that truly demonstrates that the longest of shots can make it to the top of American political life.

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The New Republic

Below average
Reviewed by Nicholas Lemann on Oct 05 2012

His book is an amazing feat of reporting, but it feels raw and under-processed;

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The Millions

Below average
Reviewed by Michael Bourne on Jun 19 2012

...for all the work Maraniss does to place Obama in America’s cultural tapestry, his book is a chore to read

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The New Yorker

Excellent
Reviewed by Jill Lepore on Jun 25 2012

Politics and economics appear in Maraniss’s account, in carefully researched detail

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The New York Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Darryl Pinckney on Aug 16 2012

Many share his subject, but Maraniss is the large beast come to the watering hole.

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Breitbart

Below average
Reviewed by Joel Pollak on Jul 09 2012

Maraniss shows scant interest in Obama’s political journey, and even leaves critical questions about his personal life unanswered.

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Bloomberg

Below average
Reviewed by Craig Seligman on Jun 16 2012

...the general reader may find this book, as I did, a slog.

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WND

Below average
Reviewed by Jack Cashill on Jun 19 2012

What Maraniss has laid bare, perhaps without meaning to, is a journalistic scandal of historic proportions in which, alas, he himself has played a part.

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Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Excellent
Reviewed by Tony Norman on Jul 01 2012

The author interviewed hundreds of people, including Mr. Obama, and has pieced together what is without a doubt the most reliable and comprehensive account to date of our 44th president's formative years.

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Politico

Excellent
Reviewed by GLENN THRUSH and DYLAN BYERS on May 03 2012

The Maraniss book, like Obama’s own, is likely to play an important, if not game-changing, role in the campaign

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Bookish

Good
Reviewed by Nathan on Jul 24 2012

...Maraniss’s biography has given much food for thought to Obama supporters and detractors alike

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WBEZ 91.5

Below average
Reviewed by Katie O'Brien on Jul 11 2012

Despite its girth, the biography is incomplete: Maraniss begins decades before the president is born and ends before he enters Harvard Law School.

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Reader Rating for Barack Obama
65%

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