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home : features : features February 6, 2016

10/10/2012 1:32:00 PM
Library book ties up the loose ends of Obama's past
Rosita Smith
Palo Verde District Library

BLYTHE - David Maraniss is known for his best-selling books on Bill Clinton, Vince Lombardi, Vietnam and the Sixties, Roberto Clemente, and the Rome Olympics. Now, after over four years of extensive research, he brings us the ultimate book; Barack Obama: The Story.

If you have read Obama's book, Dreams From My Father, you are aware that in that book Obama explores the family/race relationship as he struggles towards identifying his place in the world. In the book, A Singular Woman, Janny Scott gives us the untold story of Barack Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, the woman who most sharply shaped Barack Obama's outlook on conventional life and how it differed from country to country and from region to region.

Now comes Maraniss' tome that ties the loose strings of history together and, in doing so, reveals the individual lives as well as disparate societies that were everywhere Obama looked.

If you are into genealogy, you'll like this book. Maraniss goes back to the great grandparents on both the Dunham and Obama sides of the family, tracing all the branches that radiate out from the patriarch. And everywhere he looked he found the mystery and endless wonder of the world threading together individual lives as well as disparate societies: shaping, molding, and guiding the life that takes shape, forming a life that has meaning.

Maraniss documents how Barack was born on Aug. 4 between two eruptions of the Kilauea volcano at the Kapi'olani Maternity and Gynecological hospital in Honolulu. His birth was announced in the local Hawaiian newspaper.

Maraniss follows Obama as he moved through the various school systems of Indonesia and Hawaii, then jumping to the mainline college scene where he attended Occidental college in Los Angeles before moving eastward to Columbia and Harvard.

In Hawaiian terms, Obama is Hapa: one half white and one half black. Maraniss delineates how Obama struggled with identity issues: Was he white or was he black? was an ongoing issue well into his twenties. After Harvard, Obama went westward and settled in Chicago, where he worked for redevelopment entities for several years gathering invaluable insights on how government works and how to work with government. After a trip to Kenya in search of his African roots, Obama returned to Chicago with a goal and a purpose: return to Harvard: earn a law degree then return to Chicago and work with - and for - the citizens of his adopted city.

Maraniss' four plus exhaustive years of research allows him to pull together all the loose ends dangling from other's work into one cohesive unit. What emerges is a man of many talents, interests and abilities. The upcoming election will decide who will sit in the president's chair for the next four years. Whatever the outcome, Obama will not fade away. Understanding the man and how he ticks will smooth out transitions to be made. Maraniss' Obama will let you do just that.

On the Palo Verde Valley Library's shelves you will find Barack Obama: The Story New non-fiction shelf - B Obama; A Singular Woman New non-fiction -B Dunham and Dreams from My Father regular shelves Biography section 923 Obama.

The library is at 125 W. Chanslorway in Blythe; 760-922-5371

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