Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Maraniss spoke about his highly readable biography Barack Obama: The Story at Centennial Hall in July. He traveled to Kansas, Hawaii, Kenya and Indonesia to find how small steps taken by his ancestors led to and helped shape Obama in ways different than those feared by his critics. He knows more about Obama's ancestors than the president does, who doesn't enter the story until Chapter Seven.
Stanley Dunham's life spanned from knowing his great-grandfather Columbus Clark, who fought for the Union to free slaves in the Civil War to raising his grandson, who was elected as America's first minority, biracial and African American president. Obama met his father only once when he was 10 years old. His father was brilliant, charismatic, self-destructive, alcoholic and physically abusive towards his African and American wives. Maraniss makes a persuasive case that Obama Sr.'s absence from his "Baby Bull's" life probably saved him from child abuse.
Living as a child in Indonesia with his inquisitive and restless mother Ann Dunham and as a teen in Hawaii with his Kansan grandparents Stanley and Madelyn Dunham led Barry, as he was then called, to try to avoid life's traps, find himself and put down roots. In college, some African American classmates regarded Obama an Oreo (black on the outside, white on the inside). Before he moved to Chicago to try his hand at community organizing, his Australian girlfriend Genevieve Cook perceptively wrote that there was a strong, black woman is in his future in her diary. Maraniss said he'll write about that and more about Barack Obama in a second volume.
Van Lingle Mungo @ Central