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The Obamas

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3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  1,304 ratings  ·  235 reviews
When Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, he also won a long-running debate with his wife Michelle. Contrary to her fears, politics now seemed like a worthwhile, even noble pursuit. Together they planned a White House life that would be as normal and sane as possible.

Then they moved in.

In the Obamas, Jodi Kantor takes us deep inside the White House as they try
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Published January 31st 2012 by Little, Brown & Company (first published November 1st 2011)
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Mary
When Kantor was signing my copy of this book during an appearance at the Chicago Public Library, I asked her why she was surprised by the "controversy" it caused--since it was a "warts and all" story, naturally all the media wanted to focus on were the warts. (Of course if there hadn't been any warts, she would have been criticized for that instead.) She just shrugged and said, "We live in strange times, don't we?" After reading the book, I think the idea that she portrays Michelle Obama as an " ...more
Florence
Jodi Kantor probably thought she was being objective but she paints a very unsympathetic picture of the Obamas. Michelle is shown as being controlling, defensive, uncooperative and an overprotective parent. The President is characterized as an extreme introvert, socially awkward and overconfident about his abilities. None of it rings true to me. I have seen the President and the First Lady electrify a crowd of listeners and I will never forget it. Kantor says that he is an uninspiring speaker. S ...more
Michele Weiner
The Obamas attempts to provide an emotional history of the Obama marriage. Jodi Kantor talks about their lives and their innermost thoughts as if she had been there, but in the tradition of such books, doesn't directly attribute her information to specific people. Michelle, she says, doesn't believe in government very much. She refused to participate in many political events, and refused to have her time frittered away to no real purpose by the disorganized West Wing. She insisted on having a fa ...more
Chris Aylott
NYT reporter Kantor tells a sympathetic story about the Obamas and how they've adapted to the Presidency and the White House. Personally, I'm amazed that everyone living there doesn't go stark, staring mad. The best analogy for their experience is probably that it's like living in an armor-plated goldfish bowl, with snipers swimming around at the top.

Michelle Obama is the focus here, and Kantor does a good job of contrasting her professionalism with her husband's populism. They seem to compleme
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Jaclyn Day
I admit that I’m struggling to write this review. I’ll nit-pick in a moment, but for now I’ll simply say that this book was like the ultimate Dessert Book. It was voyeuristic and fun—the book equivalent of picking up US Weekly or InTouch. There was mention of how Michelle Obama’s wardrobe has played into public perception, there was a section on their disastrous New York City date night, there were little political asides and well-written summaries of the President’s challenges and victories ove ...more
Louise Silk
There was so much information about this book, I was reluctant to read it. That would have been a mistake.

The Obamas does an excellent job of explaining the conflicts between the personal and political, being black instead of white, wanting to be private within a public view,and melding unique personalities amongst value-laden societal judgments.

One theme is The Obamas growing understanding of perception and images. The book shows how the Administration in general and Michelle in particular de
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Agnes
If the Obamas are annoyed with this author, they should be. Kantor pieces together stories we have heard already from news writers and commentators; along the way she adds what she assumes are Michelle Obama's thoughts and feelings about her public and personal life, claiming the basis for this information are interviews she held with Mrs. Obama's friends and those working in the White House. Don't waste your time with this book. You will learn nothing about the First Lady or the President that ...more
Julie Bestry
Before the book was released, I expected to like it, mainly because I like Kantor's New York Times reporting, and assumed it would be a well-researched book. I was dismayed by the media coverage of the book's release, as the mainstream media (on both sides of the political fence) seemed to make the book sound like an expose of terrible things about the couple.

Finally, warily, reading it, more than once I had to ask myself what the mainstream media was smoking. Angry Black Woman? MIchelle Obama
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Stephen
In 2004, a young state senator from Illinois gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. His unusual name wasn't one anyone knew -- until that night. Barack Obama's address decried polarization as the work of pundits; he stressed the unity of the American people in their belief in simple dreams, in certain ideals like justice and equality. He called for people to work together, and created a wave of popularity that sent him from obscurity to the White House in just four years ...more
Colin Liddle
Jodi Kantor gives a very in depth account of the first three years of the Obama administration. It is a fascinating book and I blazed through it in just a couple of days. It explores some of the naïveté that the president had upon entering the white house, but also shows some of his steadfast characteristics that endured behind the scenes.

The only area that suffers is that Kantor appears to enjoy dwelling on the low points of his presidency while giving quick summaries of the high points.

Overa
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Susanna
This was a really interesting read, and the (somewhat limited) politics it contained was quite accessible. I was really interested in the subject, especially after hearing the debate in the media over whether or not it contained a positive portrayal of Michelle Obama. As far as that part is concerned, I can see why Mrs. Obama might have been unhappy with how she came across in the book, but I can't say that I got the same impression- it made her seem forceful, opinionated, strong, and unwilling ...more
Angela
"The Obamas" is not really about politics--when it talks about policy decisions and the frustrations of the office, it drags--but about what it is like for a fairly ordinary upper middle class family that has only recently run into fame and politics to suddenly have to adapt to life in the White House. The author really shines in her descriptions of how The Obamas were gradually stripped of their naïveté about how their private lives would continue to functions. At the beginning of the book we m ...more
BIPL Reads
Although I don’t usually read political books, I was intrigued when I heard about Jodi Kantor’s book, The Obamas. It promised to provide insight into the first couple’s powerful partnership and talk about how these two equally successful and driven people make their marriage work while living in the spotlight.

The main theme of this book is how the Obamas changed when they moved to Washington. We explore Michelle Obama’s struggle to be a modern first lady with a purpose and her conflict with the
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Lim
The narrative spun by Kantor is delicious, anchored by the brilliant question of how the dynamics between Barack and Michelle Obama would shape the force and character of US policies. Inverting the typical storyline of how presidency affects the First Couple, in this case, the possibility that the private can influence the public, reveals an optimism about the Obama presidency that is nonetheless realistic and replete with the failures and disorganization of Obama's management of the White House ...more
Chris
I was drawn to this book out of curiosity and must say I learned a lot from it. One thing I learned was just how truly meteoric Barack Obama's rise to power was and exactly how deeply and fundamentally Barack and Michelle Obama hope to change the country. Michelle was unsupportive of Barack's desire to invest himself in political life because she felt she'd seen enough to convince her that politics doesn't have the power to change things as deeply as she felt they needed changing. Insights into ...more
Bethany
Kantor wrote a very personal and insightful look into the first term of President Obama and the adjustments that his family went through to settle in to the Washington lifestyle. Both Michelle and Barack came from families that struggled to make ends meet and they have reached the pinnacle of life in America. Most of us believe we would envy the life they lead, but until I read this book, I do not think I could have believed the personal sacrifice they have given up as a family to allow Presiden ...more
Jeff Raymond
I'm not someone who necessarily admires or likes the first family politically, so picking this book up came more from the interesting media feedback that came about upon its release than anything else. Especially after being disappointed in the election results, a little something to read about four more years of the Obamas can't be a bad choice. Interestingly, this book ended up providing an entirely different perception of both Barack and Michelle than I anticipated it would, and the book actu ...more
Michael Thomas Angelo
A sympathetic portrayal of the Obamas. In her descriptions of the Obamas through their nomination to the White House up to the present, she is able to give readers a sense of the difficulties Barack and Michelle face in such unforgiving public roles. I was left with a sense that Barack Obama is an idealist with a big heart who took the job of President with the intention to make real, positive change and do some good in the world but was left severely disillusioned. Michelle's dilemma is intimat ...more
Annie
This was fascinating. Plowed through it. So much info on inside the administration, the Obama family, marriage and the challenges of the presidency. To think that 4 years prior to being elected the Obama family of 4 was living in a condo in Chicago just amazes me. Quite a culture shock to be in the White House! This book explores the couple's dynamic both of whom were both such high achievers from working class families. Definitely not your average U.S. presidential family! But the book also del ...more
Tamara
I guess if you know absolutely nothing about the Obamas, you could find this very interesting. But I feel the book is pretty shallow. I wanted to know more about their personal struggles, individually and as a couple, during their crazy-fast rise to the White House. But really, how much more could you get from one interview with your subjects and then interviews with others? And it would have been nice to have the resolution of the 2012 election included. As it is, I felt like I was left hanging ...more
Luke A. Bunker
This book was painted largely in the media as an anti-Obama book, particularly towards the first lady. And towards the beginning, this seemed to be the case. However, I found myself barely able put this book down and believe that, at the same time she wasn't sugarcoating their shortcomings and isolation, she was also being quite fair to the couple. She talked about their triumphs and failures, supported throughout with many interviews and a great deal of research. Overall, "The Obamas" is a real ...more
susan k
Disappointed. I don't buy the way the author strung events and interviews together and connected the dots about Michelle's feelings, parenting and relationship! Really?? SHE knows what they feel? ? And she makes a big deal about how, sadly, the Obama girls can't trick or treat like other kids. Barack can't go snorkeling without an entourage... Tragic! I did come away with more respect than ever for the Obamas and their accomplishments especially in light of media scrutiny, the impulse to cherry ...more
BooksAndTea
Eh. As I recall the book caused a bit of a stir when it came out. The author looks at some of the inner workings of the Obama marriage and family, with a background to their childhoods and early marriage, to focusing mostly on his run and tenure as President up to August 2011.

It seemed interesting at first, but it got repetitive: both are driven people who need to have end goals in mind. The pressures and changes of the presidency comes at the cost of privacy and time with their daughters. Mich
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Vivian
Enjoyed reading this book although it's a bit more gossipy and vanity fair-like than my expectations. And I don't understand why others (including the WH) came off thinking that Mrs Obama was illustrated as an "angry black woman" in this book. That was not my impression at all from reading this book. To me, she came across as a strong and sensible woman who loved her husband, and helped keep him grounded amidst all the political posturing and personal dramas in DC.
Sharon
Solid reporting that reads like a very long NYT article. You can't quite tell whether the author is an Obama supporter or not, which I suppose is a positive reflection on her reporter's objectivity, but she also doesn't get inside anyone's head at all. Still, it was interesting to have history's eye-view of a presidency I am living through, and also engaging how she builds the book around how the First Couple complement and contrast with each other.
Shelli McDowell
Really enjoyed this look at the presidency and how the First Lady had had to find her own role within the administration. I have even more respect for both the President and Michelle Obama. The book really only covers the first 2 years of his time in office with intermittent stories from their past providing more context of their relationship - but I still thought it was interesting and an easy read. Any fan of Michelle Obama would enjoy!
Correen

The major area of information beyond that reported in the press concerned the White House staff -- who was trusted, not trusted, had power struggles, etc. There appears to have been a fair amount of dysfunction -- cannot tell how that compares to other administrations.

The usual complaint about presidents is that they surround themselves with friends rather than the most useful persons. Obama is clearly guilty of that charge.

Marriage is complicated in all circumstances, add the stress and combi
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Jana
Some of it feels dated now, but it's fascinating to know a little about what goes on behind the scenes.
Wendy
This was like reading the world's longest People magazine article....
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Jodi Kantor has covered the world of Barack and Michelle Obama since the beginning of 2007, also writing about Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Richard Holbrooke, Eric Holder and many others along the way. She is on temporary hiatus from the newspaper to work on a book about the Obamas, to be published by Little, Brown in 2011.

Ms. Kantor graduated from Columbia and attended Harvard Law S
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More about Jodi Kantor...
The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage Obamad The New York Times Magazine (President & Mrs. Obama....The First Marriage, November 1 , 2009) Barack en Michelle

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