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Obama: From Promise to Power
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Obama: From Promise to Power

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  1,124 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
The biography of America's hottest political superstar, Barack Obama—a man poised on the threshold of greatness.

Barack Obama's meteoric rise from Hawaii high schooler to exemplary Harvard Law School student to well-groomed politico to history-making presidential candidate is the stuff of legend. Since his headline-grabbing speech at the Democratic National Convention in 20
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Harper (first published 2007)
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Dec 13, 2008 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting. I went into the book with a jaded perspective of the man, but I came out of it with a very optimistic feeling about the future.
Oct 13, 2010 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a well written book by a journalist who covered Obama since his early run for US senate. I found the book accurate and impartially well written on what it took for an idealist Obama to become the power as President he is today.

From Mendell's portrayal of Obama, he seems to be an idealist introverts who is more interested in his idealistic vision of what the country could be and the policies needed to be enacted to fulfill that vision than the showmanship of politics. But, what separates
Hilmi Isa
Apr 02, 2013 Hilmi Isa rated it really liked it
Apabila saya menamatkan pembacaan buku yang bertajuk Obama: From Promise to Power hasil tulisan David Mendell,sedikit sebanyak saya dapat mengetahui kenapa Barack Hussein Obama begitu mendapat perhatian,terutamanya ketika beliau dinamakan sebagai calon untuk bertanding di dalam Pilihan Raya Presiden Amerika Syarikat (AS) pada tahun 2008. Cuma,malang sekali,saya gagal untuk membaca buku ini pada tahun tersebut (saya membeli buku ini pada tahun 2008). Jika tidak,mungkin saya akan lebih memahami su ...more
Bryan Wilson
May 12, 2011 Bryan Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book proves a fascinating read, journeying with David Mendell as he chronicles Barack Obama's ascendancy to U.S. Senator and, ultimately, his candidacy for President. Mendell captures the way how Obama's campaign for Senator was finely-tuned and benefitted largely by not making mistakes as his competitors were tripping themselves up. There is some frankness, although there is not nearly as much of Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett as I might have hoped. There is, however, quite a bit of Da ...more
Jul 21, 2014 Edgar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A man set on making history he clearly proves Steve Jobs quote "“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explo ...more
Catherine Rae
Jan 25, 2009 Catherine Rae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fascinating. David Mendell is a gifted writer and offers a unique perspective; he was one of few journalists to cover Obama when he was relatively unknown. I couldn't put the book down and ate up all the details about the president's path to the White House via Chicago politics and a very interesting 'African Adventure' alongside hundreds of journalists.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about Barack Obama. I read it after Dreams From My Father and suggest r
William Cunion
Aug 05, 2012 William Cunion rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Biography of Barack Obama, focusing mainly on his political rise from the Illinois state legislature through the US Senate, though it does provide some background pertaining to his formative years, concluding with his 2007 announcement that he would seek the presidency in 2008. The author is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, who has covered Obama for years. Clearly, he likes and admires Obama, but he is more critical than most, pointing out that Obama is impatient and prickly. A little longer ...more
Nov 07, 2008 Charlotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If all biographies were written like this, I'd read more of them. Too many F words, but a fascinating look into Obama's political life starting with his run for the Illinois Senate. The author is a writer for the Chicago Tribune and I thought he was pretty fair and unbiased. After reading this book, I believe Obama is a good man and remarkably honest for a politician. If he weren't so fond of big government, I would have voted for him. I have no faith in his policies, but it seems like his motiv ...more
Aug 05, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author, David Mendell, reported on Barack's first Illinois state senate campaign for the Chicago Tribune. His observations and comments on Obama's 8 year journey in politics is interesting and informative. I was blown away by Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. I can see now, that the many hours Obama spent on the campaign trail helped him develop the themes and the delivery he used so effectively. The book ends at the declaration of his campaign for President. I want to read t ...more
Jan 27, 2008 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A biography covering his political life written by a journalist who covered his congressional campaign in Illinois. I wouldn't really consider the book to be pro or anti Obama - it describes the way his strengths have played out in politics and it does not ignore his weaknesses. After reading the book I feel like I now have a historical and political context inside which the "magic" of his persona and his rhetoric can be evaluated. Like any other candidate - like him or hate him, one should at l ...more
Mar 18, 2015 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obama is an extremely interesting person with a long history of activism. The writer provided a bit more detail than I would have liked. I enjoyed the details about Obama but did not need to learn the minutia about everyone else in his life as well as learning that the writer likes chicken sandwhiches. :)
Shams Toor
Jan 19, 2009 Shams Toor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On my trip to Tioman Island during April 2008, the book was a good entertainment. It inspired me to write my own Dad's biography - it remains incomplete and I am awaiting a chance when I spend some long months with my dad to complete it.
Thomas Rush
Mar 01, 2015 Thomas Rush rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 2004 at the Democratic convention, a young African-American man stepped on-stage to give a speech. At the time, he held no national office. He was just seen as an up-and-comer. As his speech flowed, viewers set in rapt attention, certain that they were witnessing something transformative. He went through his own unique heritage, informing all that though his genealogy was unusual, it was really within a long American tradition. As soon as Barack Obama finished that speech, there was a nationa ...more
Dec 06, 2012 Socraticgadfly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Mendell is a long-time political reporter for the Chicago Tribune, and has been covering Obama since he first ran for the Illinois State Senate. Before I tell you what I cleaned from the book, I'm going to give a quote from Mendell:

"What the public has yet to see clearly is his hidden side: his imperious, mercurial, self-righteous and sometimes prickly nature, each quality exacerbated by the enormous career pressures he has inflicted upon himself. He can be cold and short with reporters who he b
Jul 24, 2011 H. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A quick search on Amazon now yields any number of books on Obama. At the time Obama: From Power to Promise was released, during the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, there were virtually none. So at the time it was a valuable contribution. Ultimately, however, Mendell’s book is pretty thin on substance and may offer little now that biographers have had more time to pore over his life (although that quick search is heavy on results that hardly strike one as objective).

Mendell offers very
So far, I am feeling that I am very similar to my man Barack in many ways....particularly the weird/not as good traits.

1) Obama: "Wasup, brother!"
Black dude: "Huh?"

Lesson learned: Don't try too hard, especially don't try too hard to be somebody you are not.

2) Obama, in his days in Columbia, got a B in a class that he obviously knows more than his classmates.

His prof told him "I am grading you on a different curve. You need to try and apply yourself to the fullest, make the most of your potentia
Jul 21, 2008 E rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
I had hoped this book would serve as a complement to THE AUDACITY OF HOPE and DREAMS FROM MY FATHER since the author can offer a third-person perspective. It did live up to this expectation, essentially telling the story of an up-and-coming politician who at heart is indeed very liberal - by American standards - but has shunned extremist presentation and tactics for the sake of pragmatic cooperation with the enemy.

However, David Mendell chose to tell the story with himself the Chicago Tribune J
Apr 30, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading this I realized that Toby Ziegler was right. During the seventh season of the West Wing, he told Joshua Lyman that Matt Santos, the democratic nominee for President of the United States, would not win because he did not have the necessary hubris to be the leader of the free world. Of course, as watchers, we were cheering from Jimmy Smits (although I was never able to shake my crush on Alan Alda from his MASH days) and we dismissed Toby as "sour grapes". The man was facing significa ...more
Glen Chern
Sep 13, 2016 Glen Chern rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell covered Barack Obama's successful 2004 campaign for the U.S. Senate from Illinois. While this book is largely about that campaign, Mendell combines biographical background as well as interviews he conducted with Obama's half-sister and maternal grandmother who were living in Hawaii at the time the author was compiling resource for his book and articles.

One of the highlights of this book is the author's inclusion of Senator Obama's 10-day trip through Afric
Lori Ann
This was a bit of a slog. I read it rather than the Obama autobiographies to try to get an unbiased view. It's very detailed--probably moreso than need be. It did change my opinion on Obama--I had been naively hoping that he was as values-based as he appears to be, but the book outlines his rise in popularity as a very carefully-constructed plan, and gives quite a few examples of how his voting was done to cause as little controversy as possible (as opposed to being cast out of a sense of doing ...more
Phillip Rhoades
A none-to-revealing book that I chose to read in order to understand the man and sudden rise to power. I found most of the essays educational and helpful in understanding the process of specifics of Obama's political maneuvering, but this is largely a benefit of having read neither of his autobiographies. More than anything I gained a worthy portrait of the president's primary advisors. Gibbs and Axlerod. I was shocked at the balance and prophetic criticism David Mendell was capable of displayin ...more
Jul 30, 2008 Dante rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Caitlin and I were on our way out of town and we stopped by the library. I wanted to try something out of my normal book realm (business, personal growth, atlases, etc) so I told her to pick one out for me. She picked "The Blonde" and I picked a book aisle randomly, closed my eyes, and reached out to draw out this Obama book. I don't read many biographies but I figured this was as good a time as any to read about a potential president. It was a pretty good summary and it does show why people are ...more
Mason Owens
Written before his presidency Mendell does a sufficient job of giving a brief overview of an upcoming POTUS. Chronicling his tenure in the Senate, Mendell raises telling insights as to what guided his actions as Senator that brought him such status and his motivations down the road.

The profile is about as positive as it could be without being spun as bias giving ample optimism for a candidate in spite of glaring issues and unresolved questions never addressed. Still anyone should be able to rela
Choong Chiat
Apr 15, 2011 Choong Chiat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written book which, although it mentions certain flaws and deficiencies of Obama at certain parts, nonetheless provides an overall positive, if not deifying, portrait of Obama and his life.

Also, while it is understandable that the author chose to primarily focus on Obama and his life, it would add value to the book if analysis of Obama's political/policy proposals was included in the book. Analysis about Obama the phenomenon would also be good.

And, since the author has let the cat out of
Jan 14, 2009 Kevan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was aiming to finish up this book before inauguration day, but missed the deadline by a couple days. Nonetheless, a helpful overview of the now-President.

Unfortunately, the portrait this book paints is not a deep or detailed one. David Mendell, the author, was assigned to Obama's case as a writer for the Chicago Tribune, and thus followed Obama around the country for a couple years writing articles on the guy. The result is a distant, uninsightful portrait of the nation's leader -- one cobbled
Dec 29, 2010 Aubrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pg 282 has one of my favorite Obama quotes.

"If there's a child on the South Side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there is a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription drugs, and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent. If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It is that funda
Jan 20, 2008 Whitney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Whitney by: marg; mendell
"Thus began Obama's cordial, but not chummy, relationship with the news media. He was known for an occasional thoughtful quote, but capitol reporters were not so charmed by him that they consistently sought him out. Obama joked in later years that only one reporter, Dave McKinney of the Chicago Sun-Times, paid him any attention at all. 'And McKinney only talked to me to be nice,' Obama said." (116)

Feb 23, 2010 Taylar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book because I liked reading about Obama's rise to political office. It helped me understand him better. But I didn't like the way it was written or the author constantly inserting himself into the picture. I know why he was doing it (sometimes) but I didn't want to read about him; I wanted to read about Obama. But being out of the campaign at the end really helped me see how he won, and made me love Obama.
Jun 30, 2008 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The definitive Obama biography does a good job reviewing his background, political beginnings, and how he came to be a national superstar and presidential contender. For those looking at a pre-hype look at controversial parts of his past (Rev. Wright, Chicago politics, Hawaii upbringing, etc.), this is the book to read.

Of course, I'm a bit biased--the author is, like me, a former Lorain Journalite.
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