The Real Story Of Barack Obama– –Ben Smith tells the story of David Maraniss's new biography of BO.
A new biography finally challenges Obama's famous memoir. And the truth might not be quite as interesting as the president, and his enemies, have imagined.
David Maraniss’s new biography of Barack Obama is the first sustained
challenge to Obama’s control over his own story, a firm and
occasionally brutal debunking of Obama’s bestselling 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father.
Maraniss’s Barack Obama: The Story
punctures two sets of falsehoods: The family tales Obama passed on,
unknowing; and the stories Obama made up. The 672-page book closes
before Obama enters law school, and Maraniss has promised another
volume, but by its conclusion I counted 38 instances in which the
biographer convincingly disputes significant elements of Obama’s own
story of his life and his family history.
The two strands of falsehood run together, in that they often serve
the same narrative goal: To tell a familiar, simple, and ultimately
optimistic story about race and identity in the 20th Century. The false
notes in Obama’s family lore include his mother’s claimed experience of
racism in Kansas, and incidents of colonial brutality toward his Kenyan
grandfather and Indonesian step-grandfather. Obama’s deliberate
distortions more clearly serve a single narrative: Race. Obama presents
himself through the book as “blacker and more disaffected” than he
really was, Maraniss writes, and the narrative “accentuates characters
drawn from black acquaintances who played lesser roles his real life but
could be used to advance a line of thought, while leaving out or
distorting the actions of friends who happened to be white.”
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