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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting
an interesting biography that delves into te relationship of the current president and his wife and thier journey to the presidency. the author followed the pair from about 2007 and so has had quite alot of access to them and thier staff and so has had time to build quite a full picture as much as a journalist can, but you cant help feel on reading it that the author is...
Published on 19 Mar 2012 by Mr. Pj Williams

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Obama's - American Politics for Hello Readers
There is a story that Richard Nixon once asked Chairman Mao what he thought about the French Revolution and it impact from 1789. It is said that Mao replied with the wise observation "that it was far to early to tell". This book on the Obama's by Jodi Kantor allegedly a serious journalist for the New York Times absolutely suffers from its instant history weakness syndrome...
Published 20 months ago by Red on Black


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Obama's - American Politics for Hello Readers, 10 Jan 2013
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage (Paperback)
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There is a story that Richard Nixon once asked Chairman Mao what he thought about the French Revolution and it impact from 1789. It is said that Mao replied with the wise observation "that it was far to early to tell". This book on the Obama's by Jodi Kantor allegedly a serious journalist for the New York Times absolutely suffers from its instant history weakness syndrome but more than this you suspect that Kantor may have a secret ambition to write for Hello magazine. It is said that the book is a "filled with riveting detail and insight into their partnership, emotions and personalities, and written with a keen eye for the ironies of public life". The reality is that the book is written by someone who clearly is not sympathetic to the Obama's, has not had any access to them other than through gossip plus the Washington DC tittle tattle machine and who draws sweeping conclusions like Jackson Pollock once scattered paint. As such there is nothing in the book that is either game changing or particularly revealing. Indeed the book is primarily about Michelle Obama, whilst the historic importance of the first Black President, the brilliant campaign for his election, the somewhat dour first inaugural and other factors such as "Obamacare" are essentially footnotes in a book which starts in the White House and opens with the gruesome sentence "One late September in 2009 Barack and Michelle Obama were sitting in the gold and ivory splendour of of the Oval Office discussing the most personal of matters". The book is packed with this style of doctor surgeries magazine prose and is also heavy on celebrity fact. Thus if you want to know who accompanied the first couple to the 2009 Superbowl get this book, if you want to know about the 2009 "Alice in Wonderful" party start here, if you want to know that Jay Z, Tom Hanks and Chris Rock attended White House shindigs mission accomplished; but if you want a serious analysis of the key figure of 21st Century history then this is sadly a horrible history. The Obama's is essentially a book for people who think Piers Morgan is a great journalist and you should avoid this risible guff like swine flu.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dry as old bones - couldn't finish it, 15 Jun 2014
By 
Jood (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage (Paperback)
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So Obama wins the presidential election - next move the White House. This proves to be a confusing, unsettling time, especially for Michelle as she grapples with the reality of leaving a home she loved to a virtual museum.

I think it's fair to say that the Obamas probably had a tougher time settling in to the house, and the role, then any of their predecessors - not least because of who they are, and who they represent. Elected on a wave of euphoria, Obama felt he really could just step into the Oval office and, with a single pen stroke change things. He discovered this was not the case.

I'm afraid this book didn't hold my attention - it's not particularly well written and as dry as old bones, it failed to ignite my interest and I gave up half way through. I've passed it on to my father for his appraisal - if he sees anything different in it I'll add an update.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting, 19 Mar 2012
By 
Mr. Pj Williams (cardiff uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage (Paperback)
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an interesting biography that delves into te relationship of the current president and his wife and thier journey to the presidency. the author followed the pair from about 2007 and so has had quite alot of access to them and thier staff and so has had time to build quite a full picture as much as a journalist can, but you cant help feel on reading it that the author is trying to join the dots with some assumptions based on speculation. there are conversations set out as if they are verbatim which unless she was there for these private exchanges seem a little unlikely that she would be able to address them as fact. Which makes me doubt some of teh accuracy of the book. On saying that it might be a case of using witness descriptions ( hopefully more than one) to actually fill in the gaps. All in all its well paced and well referanced on the whole and does spend a bit more time on Michelle, but then Kantor would probably have had more access to her than the candidate at the time and so would have more material. I felt I had learned alot more about the dynamic of their relationship, and how they got where they are today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gossipy without being trashy, 18 Mar 2012
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage (Paperback)
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Written by a journalist, this is an irresistible peek into the Obamas' marriage since the election. Kantor is a New York Times journalist and there are times when this feels more like a collection of column pieces than a single narrative but that suits the subject matter well. Broadly chronological, it explores the private as well as the public, and the tensions between the president and his wife as they try to maintain a sense of who they are under the public gaze.

As other reviewers have said, this is, in places, like a real-life West Wing, though there isn't really a sense of drama within these pages. Kantor is especially good on Michelle Obama, a woman with little faith in politics or Washington, but complete belief in the integrity of her husband. Her struggle to find a place for herself within the White House institution beyond simply being wheeled out at token `mom' and fashion clothes-horse, is quite poignant at times especially given her enormous intelligence and real passion for social change and equality.

This is just gossipy enough to feel revealing without tipping over into the trashy - an interesting read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars she is an intllegent woman with a good education and has devoted herself to his advancement, 11 Sep 2014
By 
A. Williams "Barry Fan" (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage (Paperback)
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Barrack Obama married Michele in 1992. these days women want to marry a man who has the same level of education and achievement. This was true of the Clintons, both Ivy League graduated and both Harvard degree holders, very ambitious people. After her husbands successful Senate campagne speech in 2004 she slotted quickly into his presidential bid, she is an intllegent woman with a good education and has devoted herself to his advancement. She cut down her work days, eventually leaving her job at the University of Chicago Medical Centre and getting into the campagne fray and becoming a confident speaker in her own right. Just as she had been learning to live as a wife she was ousted into the White House as the First Lady. The Presidents aides wanted her to be someone who welcomed groups into the White House, as it's usual the man works and the Lady tends the home.

Michelle was first shown the sitting room by Laura Bush where they can gaze at the exterior, she wondered what the role here would be . She felt she was a strong asset but the Presidents advisors just couldn't see it! She wasn't qualified on foreign policies but she did have expertise in the health care. Michelle didn't intend to get as involved as Hilary Clinton did, but she didn't want to just sit around and do nothing.

Jodi Kantor portrays Michells Obama as an angry black woman, because she never wanted to be First Lady, but she doesn't come off as badly as we think, she has her faults. The surprising thing is how she adapted her public image from a professional woman to a fashon icon. She reportedly said if she has to accompany the President to a political event then she was going to get a new outfit from it.

The Obamas are hard working disciplined people who have got to the White House with two chldren. The don't do much socialising or drinking. The book looks into their life before they got to the Whitehouse. An interesting read. Have enjoyed it and recommend to anyone interested in the First Ladies and their Presidents.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read it but be aware the author is not really a fan., 10 Feb 2012
By 
Mondoro (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage (Paperback)
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As the author quite correctly says, the Obamas are generally liked and admired in Britain - just before I began reading this book I was telling my local book group that it had arrived in that mornings post and, without exception, everyone expressed admiration and liking for this American President. I, too, have been far more impressed with this President than any since Jimmy Carter and my opinion of both Barack and Michelle has gone even higher since reading this book. I had not realised just what dedicated , hands on parents this busy couple are and, as we have not had as many reports of Michelle's American work in the British press , I was filled with admiration for her after learning just what she chooses to spend time on and what causes she feels to be important. Nevertheless despite learning much that was positive about the Obamas I do not feel this author really does justice to the couple. Underlying the book is a subtle but definite feeling that this is not really a work which is meant to show the couple in a positive light. Michelle is apparently `an angry black woman' - what a horrible racist statement! At the time of the Monica Lewinsky scandal would Jodi Kantor, or any author for that matter, have described Hilary Clinton as `an angry white woman'. However, I was not surprised that the author feels she knows that Michelle is `angry' because in many places she is able to tell us exactly how people are `feeling' and reacting to a situation. The book is littered with sentences in quotations marks giving the impression that Kantor is quoting verbatim from a conversation that one of the Obamas had with a friend or colleague. This is very sloppy writing - unless you can footnote a quote to prove this is exactly what the person said it is better not to use quotation marks! Again Kantor gives the impression she knows what went on at meetings when she is making, at best, only an educated guess . To give but one example of this she reports on a private evening meeting between the couple, Jarrett and the Holders on the day Congress woman Gabrielle Gifford was shot. Kantor states they all agreed `We have to change the discourse'. Now this is probably exactly what they did agree but Kantor was not there - what she states with such authority is really only an educated guess as it is unlikely that Jarrett or the Holders discussed the evening with Kantor. I am also distrustful of Kantor's claim that much of what she learnt has had to be unattributed to respect the confidentiality of the person talking to her - this may well be true but let's be realistic here it also allows people to make things up without being called to order. Nevertheless , although this is a book written by an author who comes across as unsympathetic to the aims and aspirations of her subjects, I would still recommend it as through reading it I learnt much about Barack and Michelle Obama. Even though I realised it must have been hard to be the first African Americans in the White House I had not realised just how hard, and I respect the couple even more for stepping up to the plate and becoming the first to take this challenge. It seems to me it will be an enormous loss to both the US and the World if Barack Obama is not given a second term of office as this book has confirmed my belief that the we have been very lucky to have had him as President for the last four years.fjs
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sorry couldn't finish it, 26 July 2012
By 
Bacchus (Greater London - Surrey) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage (Paperback)
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I am not the slowest of readers but after 3 weeks of trying to read this book and getting half way through, I am giving up.

It is not that it is badly written or requires much intellectual effort but I just found it a bit trivial and boring.

I wanted to read this book after reading a book about political oratory, something which Obama is a master. I remember being mesmerised by his inaugural speech. He seemed to be more be a much more magnetic and intelligent figure than his predecessor. When I started this book, I thought that as president he seemed relatively invisible as far as our UK news was concerned. I wanted to know how he was getting on.

On this point, the book has failed me. What we get is an awful lot of domestic detail about how his wife is settling into the role as First Lady and the conflicts between her and the White House staff and advisors. The trouble is, I am really not that interested in this and I found the experience of reading all this to be really boring and I just can't face reading another page of it.

This is a great shame. Barack and Michelle Obama are both highly intelligent and attractive people. The fact that they are also of colour is also remarkable and gratifying. I think that there must be some good books about them. This for me is not one of them.

I was a bit worried going out on a limb to say that I did not like this book when most other reviews have been quite complimentary. I am heartened to note that reviewers on the US version of Amazon have been more spread out; there are as many people who hate is as love it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Compelling; not just politics, 8 Aug 2012
By 
John Richard "camban99" (Hull, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage (Paperback)
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As an infrequent reader of political books I was not sure just how interesting this would be. However, having read Obama's own two autobiographical books I was intrigued as to how this effectively corresponding offering would follow on from those early life introspections; surprisingly good as it turned out. The book is very well written and researched by an author who had good access to White House insiders without actually being one of them so objectivity is thoroughly maintained. Apart from the fascinating thread of the story concerning the relationship of the most intellectual and genuine couple ever to inhabit this iconic building, there are many further insights into the inner workings of the US government which are both shocking and disappointing. The effective powerlessness of the President to instigate much needed social reform in this hugely unequal democracy perhaps the most alarming of all. Whilst he can embark upon military action almost autonomously, he is virtually impotent when it comes to improving the lives of the poorest citizens due to the vested interests of the wealthy power elite in Congress who shamelessly undermine every attempt at such reform. They only need to resort to blatant lies and inuendo to convince the largely ignorant electorate that there is something wrong about their President. It really is quite disgusting how the best President they have ever had, or are likely to have, has been foiled at every attempt to improve the lives of the underprivileged. There is something evil at the heart of US politics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tittle Tattle, 10 April 2012
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage (Paperback)
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Barack Obama has evolved on a number of fronts - from life in Indonesia and Hawaii to Chicago, from atheist to Christian, from community worker to lawyer, and from academic to President of the most powerful country in the world. `The Obamas' covers hugely significant issues in the United States of America at home (eg. Health Care Bill) and abroad (eg. Afghanistan) - but it is important for readers to realise it is a biography and not a history book. Clearly author Jodi Kantor (New York Times reporter) has exhaustively researched her subjects via analysis of a wide variety of documents, and the holding of hundreds of interviews with associates of the Obamas and her personal contacts. `The Obamas' is more about personalities than politics, and sometimes it appears to concentrate on Michelle rather than the President. As a biography it is about both the public and private effects of the presidency on the Obamas, and of the Obamas on the presidency - showing what White House life does to personal liberty of parents and children, and how they cope.

The period is mainly 2008-2011 during which Barack Obama arrived as a figure of hope on a wave of enthusiasm, but the book finishes with the President facing debt and deficit problems as he seeks a second term, and it refers to his 50th birthday party when his wife Michelle rallies to his side. Though an excellent supporter Michelle Obama had often been an awkward campaigner as she worked hard to promote her own initiatives even if not directly incorporated into presidential strategies. She has always exerted great influence on Barack Obama embracing appointment of aides and presentations in addition to policy and tactics, and this aspect opens the way for Jodi Kantor to introduce the intrigue of horse trading and making deals when defining policies, pitching speeches at the right level, learning White House rules and how to meet or circumvent them, exposing East-West Wing tensions etc.

There is a dream version of Barack Obama's presidency as seeking the best for the United States, but often reality is depressing. Negative as well as positive observations are made with relief over successful plans but disappointments at failures. The Obamas could be at odds with public opinion and the general public are portrayed as frequently not appreciating their leader. Repeatedly the Obamas are disturbed by what they view as missed messages and at distorted media reporting. This leads to the book being somewhat superficial with over reliance on tittle tattle in preference to analytical commentary. Detailed references to Barack Obama's own books (`Dreams From My Father' and `The Audacity Of Hope') would have produced a more comprehensive biography, and greater use of official records would have enabled better understanding of American politics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 2 April 2012
By 
Donald Lush "lushd" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage (Paperback)
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Michelle Obama is a fascinating and little understood character. From the small amount of information publicly available one suspects that she has a fantastic story to tell, like many women married to powerful men. This book doesn't get to the heart of that story or to the heart of the Obama's extraordinary relationship, only scratching the surface with superficial details of their domestic life and snippets based on speculation. Neither of them really comes to life in the way that, say, Sarah Palin does in "Sarah from Alaska" (as a flawed but three dimensional character, along way from the stereotypes). I'd like this book to get under Mrs. Obama's skin the same way but was left feeling no wiser than before I read it.
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