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“First he escaped the trap of his unusual family biography, with the challenges it presented in terms of stability and psychology. Then the trap of geography, being born and spending most of his childhood in Hawaii, farther from any continental landmass than anywhere in the world…and finally the trap of race in America, with its likelihood of rejection and cynicism.”

Barack Obama

The Story
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Publishers Weekly Bestseller

This New York Times bestseller was hailed by critics as a groundbreaking multigenerational biography, a richly textured account of President Obama and the forces that shaped him and sustain him. In Barack Obama: The Story, David Maraniss has written a deeply reported generational biography teeming with fresh insights and revealing information, a masterly narrative drawn from hundreds of interviews, including with President Obama in the Oval Office, and a trove of letters, journals, diaries, and other documents.

The book unfolds in the small towns of Kansas and the remote villages of western Kenya, following the personal struggles of Obama’s white and black ancestors through the swirl of the twentieth century. It is a roots story on a global scale, a saga of constant movement, frustration and accomplishment, strong women and weak men, hopes lost and deferred, people leaving and being left. Disparate family threads converge in the climactic chapters as Obama reaches adulthood and travels from Honolulu to Los Angeles to New York to Chicago, trying to make sense of his past, establish his own identity, and prepare for his political future.

Barack Obama: The Story chronicles as never before the forces that shaped the first black president of the United States and explains why he thinks and acts as he does. Much like the author’s classic study of Bill Clinton, First in His Class, this promises to become a seminal book that will redefine a president.

  • 672 pages
  • Simon & Schuster
  • Jan 2013
  • ISBN 9781439160411

In Search of El Dorado

Chapter One

On Thanksgiving morning in 1926, the Dunhams set out from their home in Topeka, traveling south down U.S. Route 75 on a forty-five-mile ride through the autumn countryside. Five people were in the car: the parents, Ralph and Ruth Armour Dunham; their two young sons, Ralph Jr., and Stanley; and Ralph Sr.’s brother, Earl, who worked with him at an auto garage. They were on their way to the town of Melvern to spend the holiday with the Whitneys. Mabel Whitney was Ralph and Earl’s sister. The Dunham brothers and their brother-in-law, Hugh Whitney, had made plans to go hunting while the women prepared a holiday meal and the children played. The morning broke clean and bright, an Indian summer reprieve with temperatures climbing to sixty-eight degrees, the warmest in three weeks. Most Kansans had the day off and were outside enjoying the balmy weather. Ruth’s younger sister, Doris Armour, who lived in El Dorado with their parents, rode up to Emporia with two friends to attend a football game between the College of Emporia and her old school, Kansas State Teachers College, one of dozens of college and high school football rivalries scheduled around the state that afternoon.


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