The new Obama biography, "Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama," is "one of the most impressive and important books of the year," but no one is reading it, David Greenberg wrote in Politico.
Greenberg is a professor of history and media studies at Rutgers University who has written three books on politics. Obama's biography, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David J. Garrow, made it No. 14 on The New York Times best-seller list May 28 before being bumped off after one week.
"It's a masterwork of historical and journalistic research, Robert Caro-like in its exhaustiveness, and easily the most authoritative account of Obama's pre-presidential life we've seen or are likely ever to see," Greenberg wrote. "It's also a terrific read."
Garrow reveals several fascinating details in the book, including Obama had a girlfriend before Michelle whom he proposed to. The author interviewed "more than a thousand of Obama's friends and colleagues, and Obama himself for eight hours," Greenberg wrote.
But the book was dismissed as "a dreary slog of a read . . . bloated, tedious and — given its highly intemperate epilogue — ill-considered," by The New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani and Garrow was described by The Washington Post writer David Maraniss as "vile, undercutting, ignoble competitor unlike any I've encountered."
Garrow also took digs at Obama himself, which Greenberg suspects is another reason "Rising Star's critics were put off by his manifest skepticism about the Obama legend."
Adds Greenberg: "On the whole, Rising Star delivers what its subtitle promises: a new account of the 'making' of Barack Obama — and in two senses of the word. As noted, Garrow unpacks the creation of Obama's public image as we know it today. But he also helps us see the making of the other Obama, the forging of Obama's inner character, and in particular the emergence of the will and drive that he developed in these years, mainly in his time as a community organizer."
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