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The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama [Unabridged] [Hardcover]

David Remnick
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 May 2010

The rise of Barack Obama is one of the great stories of this century: a defining moment in American history, and one with truly global resonance. Until now, no journalist or historian has written a book that fully investigates the circumstances and experiences of Obama’s life or explores the ambition and conviction behind his journey to election. The Bridge – from a writer whose gift for illuminating the historical significance of unfolding events is unsurpassed – offers a portrait, at once masterly and fresh, nuanced and unexpected, of the man who was determined to become the first African-American president.

Through extensive on-the-record interviews with friends and teachers, mentors and disparagers, family members and Obama himself, David Remnick allow us to see an early life coloured by absence and uncertainty: one that asked demanding questions of a rootless and literate man in search of himself, sending him firstly towards social work and then into law. Deftly setting Obama’s burgeoning political career against the volatile scene in Chicago, Remnick shows us how it was that city’s complex racial legacy that shaped the young politician and made his first forays into politics a source of controversy and bare-knuckle tactics: his clashes with older black politicians in the Illinois State Senate, his disastrous decision to challenge the former Black Panther Bobby Rush for Congress in 2000, the sex scandals that would decimate his more experienced opponents in the 2004 Senate race, and the story – from both sides – of his confrontation with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

In exploring the way in which Barack Obama imagined and fashioned an identity for himself against the backdrop of race in America, Remnick illuminates an American life without precedent, and reminds us that, electrifying though Obama’s victory may have been, there was nothing fated about it. Interrogating both the personal and political elements of the story – and, most crucially, the points at which they intersect – he gives shape to a decisive period of American history, and in turn, to the way it crucially influenced, animated and motivated a gifted and complex man.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (7 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330509942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330509947
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 369,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

`A new biography by David Remnick . . . has America in raptures.' --Daily Telegraph

`Brilliantly constructed, flawlessly written biography.' --Los Angeles Times

'The most indispensable text on Obama's personal odyssey since his own "Dreams From My Father".' --Washingtonian

`This biography is superb - beautifully written and artfully constructed.'
--Economist

'a masterly life of Barack Obama.' --Sunday Times Culture Magazine

'Remnick has pulled together a monument of a book, one large enough yet nuanced enough to provide useful insight into a man whose complexity and intelligence rank him among the most compelling figures in modern history.'
--Observer

'David Remnick's hefty but readable account of Obama's freakishly rapid ascent... strains and tensions that have so far proved resistant to the adaptability and multiligualism of a singular politician [are] depicted so well in this valuable book.' --The New Statesman

'As you would expect from America's most accomplished reporter, [Remnick] plucks all the low-hanging fruit, The third reason for this book to be appearing now is, quite simply, that Remnick has written it. As an object of liberal envy and veneration, he has no equivalent in Britain and few US rivals apart from Obama himself. This is partly because his day job is Editor of The New Yorker, still the most prestigious magazine in the world in which to snag a byline. It is also because throughout his career as a journalist he has cranked out book-length reportage or astonishing quality and heft, and made it look easy... for anyone who needs a book on Obama by anyone other than Obama - and that should include Davied Cameron - this is the one.' --Book of the Week, The Times

'Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker magazine and a gifted writer, is almost alarmingly assiduous... Speaking to hundreds of friends and colleagues, he investigates and corrects Obama's own accouth of his life, going through with an assured and elegant tone that clarifies rather than accuses or unmasks... 600 masterly pages.' --***** Daily Telegraph

'In placing Obama at the narrow point of a long and storied national narrative, Remnick highlights the massive importance - and improbability - of our moment in history.' --Time Out

'[a] Washington insider...clearly had access to Obama's inner circle and...to Obama himself. The result...is full of intrigue, insight and intimacy.' --Herald

'If Obama ever wanted a lesson in getting things done, he could turn to Remnick who, as well as being editor of The New Yorker, has found time to write this comprehensive account of the US President's rise.' --Esquire

About the Author

David Remnick has been the editor of the New Yorker since 1998. He is the author of the bestselling King of the World, a biography of Muhammed Ali, and of Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obama in context 4 May 2010
By Tom Douglas TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
The Bridge is a fascinating account of the rise of Barack Obama, from a fairly chaotic childhood through to the most powerful job in the world.

We have skimmed the surface of this story before - there is no shortage of magazine articles about the first black president, the non-establishment president, the president who pitched hope rather than policies.

But this book brings two things - huge depth (nearly 700 pages all told); and context.

The context is important. Barack Obama is the first black president because of when and where he grew into a man - Chicago, with its race and politics intertwined so much that a study of the politics of Chicago is a study of the politics of (black American) race.

It is a moving account and also an inspirational one. Obama created his calm thoughtful persona when plenty of his experiences could have generated bitterness and anger. His was the response that should guide others in adversity.

It is also a chilling reminder of the ugliness of racism. This wasn't so long ago, yet the tales are stomach churning, and there are plenty of people around today who are happy to mark their vote for the British National Party.

I wasn't expecting this book to be as good as it is - with Obama in office for 18 months already, I figured his history is less relevant than it was pre-election. But it is the context that makes it. Obama as the bridge between the past and future of race in America.

Five stars.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OBAMA'S ARC 2 Jun 2010
By Diacha
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
David Remnick's "The Bridge" is an excellent "ascent narrative" of the most powerful and perhaps most enigmatic man in the world.

Remnick recounts President Obama's life and career in three stages. The first covers his highly unconventional upbringing in Indonesia and Hawaii and his extraordinary re-casting of himself in late adolescence as an African American (at school "I never thought of Barry as black" remarked a Punahou classmate), as well as the emergence of the professorial and - in the words of Jonathan Alter, author of the virtually companion book "The Promise" - Zen-like persona that is the 44th President's signature. The second describes his relatively brief political apprenticeship as first a community organizer and then a state politician in Chicago, followed by a two-year stint in the US Senate before his entry into the White House race in 2006. The third addresses the campaign itself, though with a deliberately narrow focus on the role played in it by "race."

Luck and good fortune played their parts in Obama's rise: luck, for example, in the scandal fuelled implosions of the campaigns of both his Democratic primary and Republican election opponents in the Senate race; good fortune as in his adoption by movers and shakers such as Newt Minnow, Jerry Kellman or Valerie Jarrett which helped the future president navigate his way through the Chicago power structure where he was educated in reality without being overly corrupted or tainted by its quintessential "old Politics," or as in his propulsion to national fame through being selected to address the 2004 Democratic Convention.

But, as Remnick makes clear, will, skill and sheer effort on the part of the candidate were equally instrumental.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The role of race in Barack Obama's life 29 May 2010
Format:Hardcover
Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election represented not just a milestone in terms of American history, but a new stage in the nation's enduring struggle over race. It was an issue that Obama had to deal with throughout the campaign, not just from whites but from blacks as well, as he faced charges that he was not "black" enough. In this book David Remnick, the editor of New Yorker magazine, offers us a study of Obama's life within the context of the issue of race. In it, he addresses not just the issues that he faced over the course of his life, but how in many respects they reflect the broader challenges that African Americans and whites faced in an era of dramatic change in the notions of race and equality within the nation as a whole.

The issue of race emerged early on for Obama. Growing up in Hawai'i, he experienced a very different type of racial environment, one with far greater racial diversity and far less overt animosity, than was the case on the mainland at the time. It was in that unique environment that he first wrestled with the issues of his self-definition, a struggle that continued throughout his college career, first in Los Angeles, then in New York City. By the time he graduated, he was a man comfortable with his own identity and the role he wanted to play within the larger community. Remnick's account here is traditionally biographical in its scope, drawing considerably upon Obama's own memoir, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, but adding to it with the subsequent reporting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A little slow to start
Quite a long book and though interesting read it isn't stimulating me to read regularly. It is too long when reading electronically and the percentage counter barely moves after a... Read more
Published 11 months ago by lokue
5.0 out of 5 stars OBAMA DRAMA
This is a big heavy book, so not for the faint of heart, but then the subject of the book is no light weight. Read more
Published 24 months ago by K D
2.0 out of 5 stars A MODEL OF A BIASED BIOGRAPHY
In the universe of David Remnick, Obama was meant to be President since he came out of high school and all the doubts about him are products of Republicans, even conservative... Read more
Published on 9 Jan 2012 by Lucio Sergio Catilina
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Book
I found this an excellent book and learned so much. I would like for people to buy this great book to develop a fuller understand of The President who is trying to solve such... Read more
Published on 30 Jun 2011 by Tony Laforce
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant insights into the man who bridged Selma and Pennsylvania Ave
If there is a point to Barack Obama becoming US President - and let's face it, how can we ever reduce anyone's life to having 'a point' - it is not his politics but his race. Read more
Published on 13 Jun 2011 by Mark Meynell
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed & analytical !!!!!
Having read many of the books about OBAMA currently on the market, this is by far the very best!!!. The author has written a very detailed, analytical & thoroughly informative book... Read more
Published on 24 April 2011 by hoden
5.0 out of 5 stars A biography worthy of an extraordinary man...
I very much doubt there'll be a better biography of Barack Obama, at least not within the next decade or so, because this book is truly excellent. Read more
Published on 30 Jan 2011 by C. Ball
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Bridge
This is an outstanding account of the life of a complex person. It is sympathetic and tough as well. It is well documented and carefully researched. Read more
Published on 18 July 2010 by D. A. Osler
4.0 out of 5 stars THE BRIDGE LIFE AND RISE OF BARACK OBAMA
REALLY ENJOYED THIS BIIK. ALTHOUGH TOOK SOME GETTING INTO AT TIMES. OVERALL A VERY GOOD READ. HAVE RECOMMENDED SAME TO SOME OF MY AVID READER FRIENDS.
Published on 3 July 2010 by SHORT CAKE
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This is the whole story, detailed and riveting, written by someone who's taken the time to unearth the facts. Read more
Published on 30 Jun 2010 by Seneca
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