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Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama Hardcover – May 9, 2017
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“Impressive. ... [A] deeply reported work of biography.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Rigorous. ... Thorough. ... Meticulously researched. ... Delivers insight and clarity on Obama’s enigmatic personality.” (Christian Science Monitor)
“A prodigious work. ... Each page crackles with the strength of [Garrow’s] research.” (USA Today)
“Extremely well-done. ... Garrow slices the fat of fiction away from fact. ... [A book] equally as valuable for what it is saying about the present and the future as well as the past.” (Atlanta Black Star)
“Revealing. ... Probing. ... [Garrow] tells us how Obama lived, and explores the calculations he made in the decades leading up to his winning the presidency.” (Washington Post)
“Phenomenal… Essential. … Persuasive. … Authoritative. … A stunning and indispensable work of history. … A masterwork of historical and journalistic research… [and] a terrific read.” (David Greenberg, Politico)
“A tour de force. ... An epic triumph of personal and political biography. (Paul Street, <I>New York Journal of Books</I>)
“The authoritative biography of Barack Obama’s prepresidential years. ... Illuminating. ... Impressively researched. ... Readers will be richly rewarded.” (Library Journal (starred review))
“A convincing and exceptionally detailed portrait. ... Political history buffs will be fascinated.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Important. ... Engages, absorbs and mesmerises.” (Literary Review (London))
From the Back Cover
Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention instantly catapulted him into the national spotlight and led to his election four years later as America’s first African American president. In this penetrating biography, David J. Garrow delivers an epic work about the life of Barack Obama, creating a rich tapestry of a life little understood, until now.
Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama captivatingly describes Barack Obama’s tumultuous upbringing as a young black man attending an almost-all-white, elite private school in Honolulu while being raised almost exclusively by his white grandparents. After recounting Obama’s college years in California and New York, Garrow charts Obama’s time as a Chicago community organizer, working in some of the city’s roughest neighborhoods; his years at the top of his Harvard Law School class; and his return to Chicago, where Obama honed his skills as a hard-knuckled politician, first in the state legislature and then as a candidate for the United States Senate.
Detailing a scintillating, behind-the-scenes account of Obama’s 2004 speech, a moment that labeled him the Democratic Party’s “rising star,” Garrow also chronicles Obama’s four years in the Senate, weighing his stands on various issues against positions he had taken years earlier, and recounts his thrilling run for the White House in 2008.
In Rising Star, David J. Garrow has created a vivid portrait that reveals not only the people and forces that shaped the future president but also the ways in which he used those influences to serve his larger aspirations. This is a gripping read about a young man born into uncommon family circumstances, whose faith in his own talents came face-to-face with fantastic ambitions and a desire to do good in the world. Most important, Rising Star is an extraordinary work of biography—tremendous in its research and storytelling, and brilliant in its analysis of the all-too-human struggles of one of the most fascinating politicians of our time.
Top customer reviews
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WOW! The first thing that impresses a reader is that this 1,461-paage tome feels like it weighs like a 10-lb. sack of flour (okay, really only 7.2 lbs.). About 78% of the book is analysis (1,078 pages), with the balance being: notes, bibliography, and index.
The author deeply delves into studying the upbringing of U.S. Pres. Barack Hussein Obama from his childhood years up to his announcement that he would run for the office of the U.S. President in mid-January 2007. The author doesn't really analyze the 2008 presidential campaign itself in detail, but notes several crises that could have severely hurt (and possibly derail) Obama's campaign. In the Epilogue, the author does briefly review both presidential campaigns, and notes some highlighted events in Obama's presidency (hey, only about 35 pages of reviewing his eight years in the Oval Office).
Being a libertarian, I was surprised to read: "Barack claimed to Time [magazine] that as an undergraduate, 'I was reading Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek,' famous conservative economists,", but doesn't relate how those two influenced him outside of apparently stimulating his survival spirit: "... Barack told the Tribune [newspaper] that 'I had to scratch and claw my way to the point I am now....'" (p. 1049).
The author reviews how the controversial remarks of Rev. Jeremiah Wright impacted Obama's campaign, as well as questionable sexcapade controversies during his college years. The author's legal credentials will have to serve as how one views the "truthiness" of the author's contentions and discoveries. I wasn't involved in Obama's campaigns, and like most will need to await the feedback of Obama's staff in (partially) validating some aspects of the author's portrait of our 44th president.
Hey, there's almost 1,100 pages of critical analysis, so there is indeed extensive commentary on Barack's teenage and collegiate life.
Undoubtedly, anti-Obama conservatives will be pleased with the many revelations in this book, but they undoubtedly will bemoan "if only this stuff had been revealed earlier!" Obama fans will pan some of the author's contentions, but most of us will be impressed with the extensive research that the author has undertaken in exposing so much of the unknown Barack (at least to those of us who didn't follow his Chicago, liberal community-organization activities, state senate votes, and his brief U.S. Senate career -- topics which the author discusses in great detail). [Brent Staples has a fine review in The New York Times. Also, do see a conservative's view by Lloyd Billingsley in his review "The Incredible Bulk: David Garrow’s massive monument to the Obama myth" in the May 22, 2017 online "FrontPage Mag"..]
That's why I love it.
Obama is highly controversial. This author has written an extremely detailed account of Obama's life. Extremely detailed. He interviewed a LOT of people, and he seems to have left nothing out.
I bought the Kindle edition. I have been slogging through it for two weeks. I skipped 1/2 of the first chapter, since it doesn't begin to cover Obama until the 2nd chapter. I have gotten to his run for the US Senate.
The book is fascinating except for the extreme detail. However, the devil is in the detail.
So far, the impression is that O began as just an ordinary kid with odd parents, who refused to raise him and so his grandparents did the work. Not until he came to the mainland was he exposed to the black identity stuff. After a struggle, and going through college and law school and a three year stint as a community organizer, did he fully identify as black, dumped his white/Asian girlfriend, married black, and went into black politics. He didn't have to do any of that. He would have been a very successful lawyer in the white world. He simply rejected his whiteness.
He is an attractive, charismatic guy, great talker, and lets you know he agrees with you, sorta. His Dreams from my Father was historical fiction. He created a new identity for himself. People love that persona. It is only on rare occasions that he drops the mask. The face is ugly.
That's my take so far. Read this book. It is not a fast and easy read. But, the effort will repay you. You will learn a lot about American politics, not just Obama.
Some examples of his duplicity:
1. He fires a long time aide because she is a black Muslim and would look bad when he ran for the US Senate.
2. As a state senator, he hands out state grant money to people who help him politically, while criticizing, obliquely, the system which allows and encourages such practices.
3. After 9/11, he was in a deep funk because he thought that would ruin his career in politics (obama/osama).
4. During a rough spot in his marriage and his political career, he started a correspondence with his last white/asian GF, the one he dumped because she wasn't black and would have limited his success in black politics.
5. He talked all about his father and his mother told me how great he was. He found out later he was an alcoholic wife beater. When an old friend of his father's met O and offered to tell him about his father, O didn't want to hear it.
6. Running for the US Senate, he criticizes Bush's decision to use force against Iraq (Dumb war). Once President, he restarts the war in Iraq, starts a civil war in Syria, destroys the govt of Libya, and allows a civil war to erupt in Yemen. Egypt almost went to a Muslim dictatorship.
The reality is that O is an extremely ambitious and talented person. He is also a lawyer and a politician.
Update: About marrying Michelle for racial politics:
During his primary campaign for US Senate, he insisted, over the objections of his campaign manager and consultants, including Axelrod, to run billboard ads so black drivers could see him and Michelle together so they could see he was not married to a white woman. Quote Obama: "...if they think I have a white wife, the boogie shit sticks."
Most recent customer reviews
One of America's biggest mistakes was electing him twice