*Starred Review* Since his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, Obama has captured attention as reporters, politicos, and ordinary citizens have wondered if he might be the nation's first black president. Chicago Tribune reporter Mendell argues that although Obama's rise to the national stage might seem unplanned, it is the outcome of a carefully calculated strategy by an ambitious man. Mendell chronicles Obama's personal evolution, from Barry, a biracial adolescent growing up in Hawaii, to Barack, the Harvard law school graduate. Obama's complex backgroundwhite midwestern mother and Kenyan fatherhas been both an asset and a liability to his search for acceptance among African Americans and voters in general as they have had to assess who he is and what he stands for. Mendell tracks Obama's rise through the frustrations of community organizing and the rough-and-tumble world of Chicago politics to the rarefied, if no less brutal, world of the U.S. Senate. Mendell draws on interviews with Obama, his wife, family, friends, aides, and rivals, as well as his own extensive coverage since Obama's days in the Illinois Senate, to offer a nuanced, compelling look at a man of idealism and ambition intent on making history. Bush, Vanessa
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The single best source of background information on our new president. (National Review )