Barack Obama: The Making Of The Man
- Atlantic Books
- Publication Date:
- 01 June 2012
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The first seven chapters of this book detail the lives of the grandparents and parents of the future president before he was born in 1961 in Honolulu. These chapters are of overrwhelming interest, setting out an ancestry certainly unique to an American president. And the story of his time when in Indonesia and in Hawaii and at Occidentla College in California I also found of high intererst. And the account of his rather secluded time at Columbia also is compelling, when one thinks of all the people who went to Columbia or were there when he was who did not know him. His life was such a contrast to Clinton's. As the author points out, everybody who went to Georgetown when Bill Clinton did knew of him. A very different type of person but of high interest. I did not find the account of Obama's time in Chicago of as much interest. The book ends with Obama deciding to go to Harvard Law School and of his first trip to Kenya. Most of this book is of huge interest, telling of most unusual path to the presidenc. yOne cannot fail to admire one who had such obstacles and who attained such triumphs.
An interesting book, and an exhausting one. Maraniss and his researchers have found many individuals who know/knew Obama in the life he lived up to his admittance to Harvard Law School; why the work stops arbitrarily at that admission is curious, and one misses that aspect of Obama's preparation for ultimate success. Also, the book desperately needs culling; the author is constantly comparing his information with what Obama provided the world in his memoir, Dreams From My Father, and the comments of acquaintances are redundant and repetitive. It's overkill, which is also demonstrated in the extensive quoting from the diary of one of Obama's girlfriends. But the book explains much about the President: his family, his roots, and the rather bizarre way his mother chose to raise him. She was quite smart, ambitious, and professionally driven to succeed as an anthropologist. In fact, she felt compelled to follow her destiny even though it meant she was separated from her child (she wanted him to receive a U.S. secondary education and he lived with his grandparents while inhigh school). Obama was with his mother when he was a child and she was putting down professional roots in Indonesia; he experienced the diversity and culture of that nation. His father, a brilliant but flawed economist, fled almost immediately at birth. In addition to Indonesia, one also learns much about Kansas (where his mother's family was raised) and Kenya, the land of his father (who was an alcoholic, a womanizer, and who had a number of drunken car crashes, the last one fatal). Both his mother and father had children with others, so the President is the half-sibling of one Indonesian-American woman and a number of individuals in Africa. Obama's coolness and caution, to a large degree, seems to be explained by the lack of a close relationship with his parents. He also seems to have been marked for greatness, at least from the point he gained admittance to one of Hawaii's leading prep schools (one of the top 10 such schools in the nation). He transferred from Oxidental College in California after his sophomore year and graduated from Columbia with a 3.7 index. So this is a book that's worth the effort, but I wound up skimming and skipping through dozens of pages.
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