Title: Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama
Author: David J. Garrow
Genre: Biography/ Non-fiction
Publisher: William Collins
Price: Rs 650
The book, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama is definitely an ambitious project by Pulitzer-winning author David J. Garrow as he delivers a comprehensive biography on the 44th US President, Barack Obama. While the book might look daunting for its sheer size of 1472 pages, the research and the meticulous effort at Garrow’s end is absolutely noteworthy. The book is meant for a serious reader. Garrow’s book takes us on a trajectory of Obama’s life from his formative years leading up to his becoming the President of the United States. The book delves into his life from the time when he was growing up with his white grandparents in Honolulu, Hawaii, before moving to California and New York for his studies. It goes into great detail of his time as a community organiser in Chicago. During this period Obama worked closely with the African-American communities in some of the toughest neighbourhoods that surely played an important role in shaping his political views. Thereon, his time at Harvard Law School, and finally his return to Chicago where he realised his political destiny has been covered in depth.Garrow has dug out people from Obama’s past and interviewed them for his book and the information is exhaustive. However, there are times when one does feel that certain parts of the book has been stretched a bit.
The book clearly outlines certain interesting facets of Obama’s personality that compels one to even ponder upon the reasons he made certain resolutions in his life. For instance, did Obama’s decision to pursue a relationship with Michelle Robinson a logical step for him to fulfill his political aspirations? Clearly, the author feels so, as he mentions Obama’s past relationships, especially with Sheila Miyoshi Jager. The book goes into detail of the relationship that lasted for three years up till he met Michelle. Garrow mentions of their mutual friend Asif Agha in the book. Asif recalls Barack saying, “The lines were clearly drawn… If I am going out with a white woman, I have no standing here.”
In another extract from the book Sheila explained… “Marriage was THE vital issue between us and we talked about it all the time…”
Garrow has successfully brought forth fascinating new information about Obama and the events that influenced his political goals. Garrow’s Obama is an extremely ambitious and calculative man. Did Obama made emotional sacrifices to reach his political destiny? It is a question that the reader might find themselves speculating on, from time to time.
There are profound moments in the book such as, the part where it recounts Barack’s conversation with Chicago Defender’s Chinta Strausberg about the 9/11 attacks wherein, he talks about the concrete barricades outside government buildings post attacks as “…the saddest situation and aftereffect of September 11th tragedy,” because “those barricades area a symbol of the fear that people are experiencing…
To sum it up, the book is a good read for those who have the patience and the curiosity to understand the iconic leader.