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The Obamas Hardcover – January 10, 2012

3.6 out of 5 stars 160 customer reviews

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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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316098755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316098755
  • ASIN: 0316098752
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #861,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on January 30, 2012
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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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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Generally, I don't favor harsh book reviews and instead choose to focus on some merit to praise. Sorry to break my hard and fast rule here on The Obamas. The book is a waste of money and time. There is nothing between the 528 pages that is the least engaging. At it's sensationalized best, The Obamas is pure unadulterated fluff by an enamored fan. For the price, the author should be embarrassed to not have gone the extra mile to provide more information than one could garner from reading an internet article. To be fair, Ms. Kantor of the NYT is clearly infatuated with the Obamas and the veritable love fest continues page after dull page where she reminds us of the precious gift the first African American couple is to the United States. Okay, fine. We get that. Apparently, as the Obamas number one cheerleader, the author strives to elicit sympathy for the Obamas, for the lack of privacy they no longer possess since assuming the highest office of the land. For the criticisms they continue to endure over the smallest dalliances of luxury fashion and travel. After all, the Obamas sacrificed the Chicago life they loved and came to Washington to create Hope and Change yet Americans remain biased against them. Alright. This may have been fine to note once or twice but page after page descriptions of blatant racist attacks on the Obamas grows tedious over time. Was there nothing more to learn about this fascinating young couple that our nation elected twice? No behind the scene interviews with credible sources that are actually validated by name? Where are the salacious tidbits Ms. Cantor promises in her book blurb that enticed me to buy the book in the first place? What the author does accomplish is a tribute of love by the Obamas number one fan.
At the Inaugural Ball, Ms.
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