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The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama (Vintage)by David Remnick
Synopses & Reviews
No story has been more central to Americas history this century than the rise of Barack Obama, and until now, no journalist or historian has written a book that fully investigates the circumstances and experiences of Obamas life or explores the ambition behind his rise. Those familiar with Obamas own best-selling memoir or his campaign speeches know the touchstones and details that he chooses to emphasize, but nowfrom a writer whose gift for illuminating the historical significance of unfolding events is without peerwe have a portrait, at once masterly and fresh, nuanced and unexpected, of a young man in search of himself, and of a rising politician determined to become the first African-American president.
The Bridge offers the most complete account yet of Obamas tragic father, a brilliant economist who abandoned his family and ended his life as a beaten man; of his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who had a child as a teenager and then built her career as an anthropologist living and studying in Indonesia; and of the succession of elite institutions that first exposed Obama to the social tensions and intellectual currents that would force him to imagine and fashion an identity for himself. Through extensive on-the-record interviews with friends and teachers, mentors and disparagers, family members and Obama himself, David Remnick allows us to see how a rootless, unaccomplished, and confused young man created himself first as a community organizer in Chicago, an experience that would not only shape his urge to work in politics but give him a home and a community, and that would propel him to Harvard Law School, where his sense of a greater mission emerged.
Deftly setting Obamas political career against the galvanizing intersection of race and politics in Chicagos history, Remnick shows us how that citys complex racial legacy would make Obamas forays into politics a source of controversy and bare-knuckle tactics: his clashes with older black politicians in the Illinois State Senate, his disastrous decision to challenge the former Black Panther Bobby Rush for Congress in 2000, the sex scandals that would decimate his more experienced opponents in the 2004 Senate race, and the storyfrom both sidesof his confrontation with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. By looking at Obamas political rise through the prism of our racial history, Remnick gives us the conflicting agendas of black politicians: the dilemmas of men like Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, and Joseph Lowery, heroes of the civil rights movement, who are forced to reassess old loyalties and understand the priorities of a new generation of African-American leaders.
The Bridge revisits the American drama of race, from slavery to civil rights, and makes clear how Obamas quest is not just his own but is emblematic of a nation where destiny is defined by individuals keen to imagine a future that is different from the reality of their current lives.
From the Hardcover edition.
In this nuanced and complex portrait of Barack Obama, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Remnick offers a thorough, intricate, and riveting account of the unique experiences that shaped our nation’s first African American president.
Through extensive on-the-record interviews with friends and teachers, mentors and disparagers, family members and Obama himself, Remnick explores the elite institutions that first exposed Obama to social tensions, and the intellectual currents that contributed to his identity. Using America’s racial history as a backdrop for Obama’s own story, Remnick further reveals how an initially rootless and confused young man built on the experiences of an earlier generation of black leaders to become one of the central figures of our time.
Masterfully written and eminently readable, The Bridge is destined to be a lasting and illuminating work for years to come, by a writer with an unparalleled gift for revealing the historical significance of our present moment.
About the Author
David Remnick was a reporter for The Washington Post for ten years, including four in Moscow. He joined The New Yorker as a writer in 1992 and has been the magazine’s editor since 1998. His last book was King of the World, a biography of Muhammad Ali, which was selected by Time as the top nonfiction book of 1998. Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994.
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