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Afternoon Shift

David Maraniss demystifies President Obama's early years in new biography


If nothing else, David Maraniss is thorough. But he and his new biography, Barack Obama: The Story, are so much more. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Clinton biographer poured four years of research, hundreds of interviews and his meticulous review of thousands of documents, letters and journals into a nearly 600-page, multigenerational portrait of the 44th president.

Despite its girth, the biography is incomplete: Maraniss begins decades before the president is born and ends before he enters Harvard Law School. But the buzz around the bio is that Maraniss’ account is more complete than the president’s own, as told in his 2004 memoir, Dreams of My Father.
Presidential biographies are nothing new; really, they’re inevitable. The difference here is that Obama is a sitting president—running for reelection. As such, the book is fair game for fodder. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh discussed Maraniss' book on his show and said, "He [Maraniss] thought he was writing an election-year Valentine for Obama." But instead, Limbaugh posited, Maraniss highlighted a flawed understanding of the president.

Maraniss joins Afternoon Shift host Steve Edwards for an extended chat about the book. Maraniss will be signing copies of Barack Obama: The Story at the Harold Washington Library Center Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m.

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