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65 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Journalism in a Book, May 8, 2011
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This review is from: A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother (Hardcover)
Janny Scott worked as a journalist for The New York Times. And just before President Obama was elected President in 2008, she wrote a piece for the Times about Stanley Ann Dunham, the about-to-be-elected President's dead mother. I have read Mr. Obama's books and have learned some about his mother. But I noted that very little seems to have been written about this woman who must have had a profound influence upon her son. And now Janny Scott has provided me with so many researched pieces.
This is what she did: she spent years interviewing people who knew the President's mother. And this book is filled with that information, presented in the chronology of Ms. Dunham's life.
However, I would want potential readers to know this: this is not written in the style of a fluid novel because it isn't a novel. Instead Ms. Scott has presented details through the mouths of those she interviewed which include a few members of Mr. Obama's family (we must remember that he has few family members who are still alive) and then dozens of people who knew this remarkable woman as friends and colleagues.
Several chapters are devoted to Ms. Dunham's professional life most of which was spent in Indonesia were she lived, for a while, with her second husband who was from that island-filled country. This is also where the President lived for a while and where his half-sister, Maya, was born and raised.
Ann Dunham (she dropped the Stanley when she moved to Hawaii--her father's name) was a rather usual mother. She was only seventeen when she found herself pregnant with the future president, newly arrived in Hawaii, a student at the University. She married the senior Barack H. Obama, but soon he was off to Harvard. She apparently was unaware that he was already married and a father, his wife back in Kenya. With the assistance of her parents--Stanley Ann was an only child--who had also just moved to Hawaii, she was able to continue her studies and to begin raising her son.
I won't go into any of the details. But I do want potential readers to know that if you are really interested in the life of his amazing woman, then by all means purchase this well written book. But beware that it is filled with details.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 8, 2011 12:59:13 PM PDT
Dakkumen says:
C.E. Selby

You mention that "we must remember that he has few family members who are still alive". That is true, for instance:

1. Barack Obama Sr died in 1982 in what Kenya family members describe as a suspicious death.
2. Lolo Soetoro died in 1987 @ the age of 52 - just a few months after Frank Marshall Davis died.
3. Stan Dunham died in 1992 - when Obama began writing 'Dreams from my Father.
4. Ann Dunham died in 1995 @ the age of 52 - just after reading 'Dreams from My Father' and just before Obama launched his political career
5. Miss Hefty (Obama's 5th grade teacher who played pivotal role in 'Dreams from My Father') died in 1995 - the same year 'Dreams from My Father' came out.
6. Madelyn Payne Dunham (Obama's "grandmother") died on November 2, 2008 - one day before the election.
7. Lia Soetoro (Lolo Soetoro & Ann Dunham's adopted daughter) died on February 26, 2010 - just after talking to reporters before Obama's Indonesia trip.

I'm hoping to learn more of these family members in Janny Scott's "filled with details" book.

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2011 2:24:00 PM PDT
Eric Selby says:
Yes, I knew this. The author did, however, interview one of Obama's great uncles as well as a couple of distant cousins, hence the reason I wrote that he had few relatives living. I believe he has quite possibly a few half-siblings (at least two anyway) and cousins in Kenya. But essentially his family is now reduced to him, his half-sister, and their respective families. That's small. Thanks for this comment. Did you like the book?

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2011 5:15:43 PM PDT
Dakkumen says:
I ordered Janny's book through Amazon and haven't received it yet.

Another thing I'm curious about is why all the photos of Obama taken in Indonesia are in black-and-white. Does Janny's book have some color photos of Obama in Indonesia?

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2011 7:02:08 PM PDT
Eric Selby says:
All the photos are from "back when." You know, back when photos were taken on real cameras. Look at the photograph, I think it is the first one, of his grandfather, Stanley Dunham. And you will see the white man transformed to the black man. Or the one of them together on the beach. I have had the image--don't call me a racist, please, because I am so not--that Barak Obama, Junior, is an image of his black father. Oh, no, not at all. The white grandfather. Love your comments.

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2011 8:07:33 PM PDT
Dakkumen says:
There are many color photos of a young Obama (before Indonesia - i.e the front cover of Janny's book), but ONLY the photos from Indonesia (the ones I've seen on the internet) are in black-and-white. Very odd.

In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2011 2:56:51 AM PDT
Eric Selby says:
They are black and white because these are photos the author found along the way. At that time most photos people took were in black and white. Did you see the two photos of his grandfather--the one when he and his wife were first married and the one at the beach--and how many facial features the President inherited?

In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2011 10:44:18 AM PDT
Dakkumen says:
I'm not sure which photos (the married or beach) you are talking about and maybe I'm missing it, but I don't see even the slightest resemblance between Obama & Stan Dunham or Obama & Ann Dunham. I do see a striking resemblance between Stan & Ann Dunham, however.

In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2011 11:03:13 AM PDT
Eric Selby says:
Pages 36 and 94. The chin, the ears, the shape of the face. Even the lips. People I have shown these photos to have also seen the striking similarities.

In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2011 12:41:55 PM PDT
Dakkumen says:
I'll check those photos out when I get Janny's book. Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 6:32:28 AM PDT
S. R. Schnur says:
I don't know how old you are, but in those days most of us had cameras that took black and white photos. People who were into photography might have a more expensive camera that took color slides. In addition to the expensive camera, we needed either a viewer or a screen and projector to see those photos. Generally we stuck to black & white for prints.
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