THE BRIDGE by David Remnick
Kirkus Star


The Life and Rise of Barack Obama
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From New Yorker editor Remnick (Reporting: Writings from The New Yorker, 2006, etc.), a world-ranging, eye-opening, comprehensive life to date of the 44th President of the United States

World-ranging because, writes the author, “Barack Obama’s family, broadly defined, is vast. It’s multi-confessional, multiracial, multi-lingual, and multi-continental.” One of his half brothers, born in Africa, lives in China; a cousin is a rabbi; other cousins are blond children of the prairie. Then there is his father, a promising economist with a drinking problem, and his mother, an anthropologist who left the young man with her parents in order to pursue her career. Obama, as Remnick’s allusive title suggests, has served as a bridge among cultures and races, though his steadfast wish to be seen as a person of accomplishments who happens to be black does not neatly fit the pigeonholing that so many of his critics wish to entertain—notwithstanding Obama’s evident delight at resisting categories. He makes another bridge, too, as Remnick cogently writes—a bridge to the past and to the bridges Dr. King crossed at Selma, Montgomery and Washington; a bridge, as a memoirist, to the rich history of African-American narrative. The author also delves into Obama’s travels in Pakistan with a Muslim friend and his relationship with the firebrand preacher Jeremiah Wright, all of which fed into “the story of race in the [2008] campaign.” Yet for all the potential political derailments his past and friendships might have caused, the author depicts Obama as a survivor, an adept practical politician and, most importantly, a leader who demands to be taken seriously.

Remnick’s fluent writing makes this expansive, significant book move along swiftly. Readers will look forward to the sequel, eight years from now.

Pub Date: April 6th, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4000-4360-6
Page count: 672pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2010


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