David Maraniss's Barack Obama is an engrossing and thorough (sometimes exhaustingly thorough) account of the U.S. president's early life and family background. The book has already made headlines for its revelations about the young Obama's early girlfriends and enthusiastic high-school pot use, and by pointing out some of the inaccuracies and fudged details in the president's memoir Dreams from My Father -- which Obama himself has acknowledged contained several composite characters and a rearranged timeline.
But even as the book punctures some of the mythology built up by the official campaign version of Obama, it doesn't really contain many scandalous revelations for his detractors, either. (That said, Maraniss's portrayal of Barack Obama Sr. as an abusive, womanizing, alcoholic is very much at odds with the flawed but largely sympathetic character in Dreams.)
Although the book ends before Obama enters politics, it does contain some interesting moments for those interested in the president's view of the world and how it evolved.
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