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The Obamas Hardcover – January 10, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316098752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316098755
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #589,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"In lesser hands The Obamas would be an act of astonishing overreach, but Ms. Kantor, who covered the Obamas for The New York Times during the 2008 presidential campaign, and is currently a Washington correspondent for the paper, has earned the voice of authority. A meticulous reporter, Ms. Kantor is attuned to the nuance of small gestures, the import of unspoken truths. She knows that every strong marriage, including the one now in the White House, has its complexities and its disappointments. Ms. Kantor also-and this is a key-has a high regard for women, which is why hers is the first book about the Obama presidency to give Michelle Obama her due. In the process we learn a great deal about the talented and introverted loner who married her, and how his wife has influenced him as a president."—Connie Schultz, New York Times

"Energetically reported...Kantor nails her story....We political gluttons will lick the spoon clean."—David Remnick, New Yorker

"Jodi Kantor offers a glimpse into the tensions of a culture that expects our women to achieve as highly as our men but our first ladies to take a back seat to their presidents. The result is a sympathetic portrait of both Obamas that could help to humanize an administration criticized as being aloof and inaccessible."—Ilyse Hogue, The Nation

"The stories are titillating, and you'll gulp them down like salted peanuts."—Entertainment Weekly

"[Kantor's] writing is insightful and evocative, rich with detail... Her reporting rings true-and considering the administration's insistence on presenting a unified front, it is a considerable achievement."—Kerry Luft, Chicago Tribune

"[Kantor's] thoughtful new book is fluidly written, with a canny sense for the way political marriages can be useful prisms to see into ambition, power, gender and the contradictions of public life...The Obamas is built primarily out of interviews....[and] the legwork pays off in some sophisticated perception into a 'friction-filled marriage that has proved strong nonetheless.'"—Karen R. Long, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Kantor's book reveals many unknown stories and revelations about the connection between the personal and political in this presidency, and how the first couple's partnership affect us all."—Atlanta Journal-Constitution

About the Author

Jodi Kantor began her journalism career by dropping out of Harvard Law School to join Slate.com in 1998. Four years later, she became the Arts & Leisure editor of the New York Times. She has been covering the Obamas since 2007, and though she is a Washington correspondent for the newspaper, she lives in Brooklyn with her family. She can be followed at twitter.com/jodikantor.

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Customer Reviews

To me that may be the only thing that is refreshing about the Obamas -- which is more than I can say about this book.
Herbert L Calhoun
Readers experienced with political insider books will recognize in The Obamas many of the dynamics present in other books about past administrations.
Andy Winchell
Jodi Kantor has done a tremendous job of bringing the Obamas to life in her well researched, beautifully written book.
Lisa Sinclair

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read and heard reviews in various magazines and shows slamming this book for its harsh treatment of Michelle Obama. As a fan of the First Lady's, I think those comments are off of the mark. I found Jodi Kantor's work to be an insightful look at life in the White House. It portrays Michelle as intelligent, formidably talented in her own right, and a very equal partner to her husband. In fact, Kantor's Michelle has emotional intelligence in spades, an important attribute that the author clearly feels that the President lacks. To that end, Kantor posits that the First Lady is critical to the Obama administration...and to Barack Obama. "Yes, We Can" and massive campaign rallies notwithstanding, the President is shown over and over again on these pages to be introverted and increasingly walled-off from public perceptions of his performance. It's FLOTUS, not POTUS, who gets - and continually reinforces - the importance of connection. This is one impressive lady.

If anyone were to be upset about the way they're portrayed on these pages, it should be first friend, Obama confidante and West Wing advisor, Valerie Jarrett. On more than a couple of occasions, she's shown as playing East Wing against West Wing, and representing views as the First Lady's, when - at least on one explosive circumstance (when it was reported that Michelle had told Carla Bruni-Sarkozy that "living in the White House was hell") - Jarrett and Mrs. Obama hadn't spoken. It's worth noting that in reporting the event, Kantor lets former advisor Robert Gibbs have a tremendously cathartic rip at Jarrett.

Kantor's end-of-book summation about the Michelle Obama of the last three years is unmistakably positive: "In the nearly three years in the White House, the Obamas had changed positions with one another.
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58 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Andy Winchell on January 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Readers experienced with political insider books will recognize in The Obamas many of the dynamics present in other books about past administrations. Like Bob Wodward's books about the Bush Administration, Jodi Kantor obviously received a lot of information from aides working in the White House. Unlike Woodward's books, though, The Obamas comes at its subject more from the personal side than the political side. Rather than focusing on the workings of power in the West Wing, The Obamas describes at length the effect that President Obama's family has on him and his administration. The book also depicts how living in the White House and constantly being in the public eye affected the Obamas and how they responded.

One theme of The Obamas is their growing understanding of perception and images. Michelle Obama in particular is very conscious of the way that she is depicted in the media. She finds looking good by wearing nice clothes with professional makeup to be empowering. She makes conscious efforts to present herself well, do things well, and set a good example. There is a pair of scenes early on when Michelle is photographed wearing casual clothes on casual occasions, one while walking the family dog on White House grounds and another white visiting the Grand Canyon, and the First Lady received some unflattering press as a result. Ironically, when she dressed in expensive clothes, people noticed that as well and remarked accordingly. The book shows how the Obama Administration in general and Michelle in particular developed an improved sense of the value of imagery. Michelle if anything became more acutely conscious of how she dressed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Four and a half INCISIVE Stars. This is a solidly researched book that is not the unflattering "tell all" that some have expected. Far from it, from the standpoint of the First Lady, it shows her as a strong, talented, loving, caring First Lady. It also succeeds in presenting President Obama, his family, staff and anyone else involved at a 'down to earth' level of assessment, not from a lofty perch of historical adoration. And while New York Times Correspondent/author Jodi Kantor 'pulls no punches' in giving an in-depth assessment of the First Couple and their personal and political environment from many viewpoints based on 'inside information', there is nothing here that can be viewed as embarrassing or unexpected and is actually flattering. Even the infamous Rahm Emanuel staff tirade 'pales' when put into the true chronological perspective of events in the book, and what happened next was a real surprise. The author assesses the give and take between the president and the first lady in both personal and public aspects, and with their staff: in the early years, and before, during, and after the presidential election. This book is also a cornucopia of very revealing facts and an enormous amount of information. Even the kids make a positive appearance ("Malia's Great Escape"). An important point made by the author is that Michelle, from the beginning in Chicago politics, was deeply involved in Barack's work and the staff knew she was taking note of their effectiveness. She went from the role of 'arbiter' in the Illinois elections to 'taskmaster' in the presidential race. The book also points out how hard the political races and political life was/is on Obama family life, a fact acknowledged by President Obama, but shows how they overcame all of the challenges.Read more ›
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