Renegade: The Making of a President
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Renegade: The Making of a President

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  975 ratings  ·  105 reviews
Before the White House and Air Force One, before the TV ads and the enormous rallies, there was the real Barack Obama: a man wrestling with the momentous decision to run for the presidency, feeling torn about leaving behind a young family, and figuring out how to win the biggest prize in politics.

This book is the previously untold and epic story of how a political newcomer...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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I cried reading this the first time - at work - and I cried rereading it now. It's a little fawning over Obama works for me. This will sound cheesy but I'll read the part about election day a lot, because I never want to forget that day, or that moment. I think it will be one of those days, like when JFK was assassinated, or 9/11, when people ask each other for the rest of their lives where they were at that moment. I'll always remember and I like to read about that moment from Obama's...more
Of all the self-styled pundits on television, Richard Wolffe is the smartest, most low-key, and circumspect. Come to think of it, he is the ONLY smart, low key and circumspect teevee talking head. That's why when I heard he'd written a book about Obama, I had to read it, immediately.
Glad I did, too.
In addition to the fact that he had direct and frequent access to Obama throughout the campaign and after (which means, of course, that he has lots of inside stuff to tell us), he weaves various time...more
Jana Perskie
On March 18, 2008, presidential candidate Barak H. Obama spoke to the American people from Philadelphia. He addressed race in a manner that has rarely been discussed in a public forum before. But Barak Obama was a historical candidate running for the presidency of the United States of America in extraordinary times. And he spoke as someone from both inside and outside the African American experience.

Two days after this address, he approached award-winning journalist Richard Wolffe, who had been...more
Gary Charles
This book is interesting because it actually put you in the shoes of the president, through everything. The pressure, the elections and the life as president. This book is detail in how things works in the white house. In this book there is only one main person I whould like to be and that is barrack Obama. Because it is a bibliography on one specific person it is hard to choose. When I read this book I felt somewhat inspired to try my best because reading this book makes you realize tha...more
Disappointing. I was expecting mostly a descriptive, behind the scenes narrative of the campaign. What I got was more of an argument, and a pretty oppressive one at that, for why President Obama is so awesome. A subset of that argument is most definitely how awful all the other options were (Clinton, McCain, former President Bush). It's fine to provide nuance or correct some misstatement propagated by Obama's opponents, but this was invariably followed by a dig at the aforementioned other option...more
Brian Ayres
I must admit that I voted and support Barack Obama, which might cloud the issue of why I read and enjoyed Richard Wolffe's analysis of his rise to power. However, Wolffe's book, while a touch long, is well-written and well-sourced and is not simply a blow-by-blow account of the 2008 primary and general election campaigns. Wolffe does steal a lot from Obama's two books, particularly Dreams from My Father, his autobiographical struggles with his racial identity. Wolffe uses Obama's words and exper...more
This book is about a hero and his dream to make the best of his abilities. That hero is a hero of Americans and foreigners all around and certainly my hero. That person is Barack Obama. Richard Wolffe explains Obama and his dream in such an impressive way that it makes an Obama hater stop and admire a man as brave as him.
I have always said to people all around that we are a point in our lives that history is being made in front of us. RENEGADE is the untold story of a poor person and his struggl...more
I love Richard Wolffe. He and Keith have kept me nodding in agreement for years, it seems, and as soon as Keith mentioned this book, I knew I had to request it. It did occur to me that there is part of me that LIKES having Obama on a pedestal, because generally once I realize someone is flawed and human, it detracts a bit from my positive vibe, but in this case, reading the more human side of Obama than that carefully served up by the media and seeing behind some of the events I watched so close...more
Lord knows, I'm a huge fan, but while I learned new things here and there it was a struggle to finish and I'm headed to a trashy chick-lit novel as a reward.
I enjoyed the book, it gave good insight into what the first campaign was like. However, reading it 4 years later, it makes me wonder how much more I would have liked if I had read it sooner after the first win than the second win, due to the questions it raises on how things went the 2nd time around and how closely he was able to have a presidency that similar to what he ran on. (I know there is plenty out there on that topic, but I want to hear it from his thoughts/perspectives) I didn't follo...more
Mar 18, 2011 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mike by:
This is the second book that I've read on the 2008 presidential election, with the other being Game Change.

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This book focuses on Obama and is less sensational. The journalist who wrote the book had close access to Obama from the announcement of his campaign for president to his first days in the Oval office. If you want to find an intimate and nuanced portrait of Obama and his inner circle, this is an excellent book.

I thought the structure was interesting, in that it's not strictly i...more
The 2008 presidential election was a longer test of the candidates and nominees than any previous election, a trend that is sure to be repeated for most foreseeable presidential campaigns to come. I was one of the many college students enthralled by all the attention both sides were getting, but was particularly interested in the Democratic ticket because I felt there was really no chance for a Republican to win (even though Sen. McCain put forth a great effort). This book takes the reader insid...more
Jan 19, 2012 Dawn rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like politics and/or President Obama
Recommended to Dawn by: NPR
Shelves: 2009, knowledge-nf
It was a really enjoyable read, but then I'm a fan of Barack Obama.
It is more investigative-based, but I still found it to be pretty pro-Obama. The author throws in a couple of jabs at Republicans and Hillary Clinton, though they are centered around how their campaign were run, and since they did lose, I guess he was right in his negativity.

The first chapters were interesting, because he wasn't really on my radar at the beginning of the election, so I liked seeing how it all started. The ending...more
Carlos Smith
'Renegade' is marketed as the inside story behind the historic Obama campaign. I was excited to read it because I thought I would get some real dirt on all the candidates. Who's a bitch, and who's and even bigger bitch, right? Well sure, there was some of that. The tit for tat we all watched play out during Decision 2008 is replayed in good detail. We are also privy to specific incidences of childish behavior from John McCain, unexpected anger from VP Biden, and the full circle of emotions from...more
Micah Fretz
This book was written by Richard Wolffe a journalist that followed Obama throughout the 2008 campaign. Wolffe does an amazing job of putting you in shoes of a presidential candidate and the grueling campaign full of up and down, the traveling, the all nighters, and the over all emotional and physical stress that one would go through. I diffidently learned at lot more how Obama grassroots campaigns were organized and the tidal wave that followed.
I will have to admit I did not finish the book thou...more
Paul Kearney
an insider's account from unknown to president.It's to the book's credit that Obama's future ineffectiveness in the Senate can be guessed at when such pressure on one man is always felt. furthermore this ring of truth is consistent throughout the book.The author state's his job was neither to raise him up nor tear him down but this results in most things mearly being hinted at which is unsatisfying when the problems are so glaring .Mainly winning on change then 'rehiring the same old faces that...more
Reading Richard Wolffe's Renegade in the context of the last four years, instead of less than a year after Barack Obama's 2008 victory, helps one realize how pragmatic the then junior of Illinois really was in his political thinking even as he challenged the establishment. Throughout the book, Wolffe threads the narrative of the nearly two-year campaign with Obama's biography and life experiences to help give an informed view of Barack Obama and how he used those experiences to shape his campaig...more
Sometimes, reading this book is like hearing Terry McAuliffe spin, if Terry was a spinner for the Obama campaign. Wolffe makes it his job to "debunk" even the most obviously true of the negative campaign narratives about Obama--witness his embarassing contention that "the media didn't get it" when Obama asked Iowa farmers if they'd seen the price of arugala at Whole Foods lately. It was "the pundits" (Newsweek writers excepted?) who were condescending to think that farmers didn't know what aruga...more
Marti Lewis
Finished reading this on 4th of July. I respect Richard Wolffe highly for his writing and reporting. I was going to skip this book, since I don't need a rehash of the campaign so soon after it. Then I heard a radio interview that got me interested. Indeed, a lot of this is a rehash for me, but it has some interesting points that were new for me.

Wolffe explains how the slogan "Yes, we can" came into being after the Obama lost the New Hampshire primary to Hillary Clinton. His managers didn't want...more
Where Game Change was a sprawling, often second-hand, account of all the major 2008 candidates, with Renegade, Wolffe provides the only total-access, first hand account of the Obama campaign. To my knowledge, no reporter during the election was a close to Obama as he was, as evidenced by the many conversations with the candidate/president that were quite candid, personal and detailed. While Wolffe's presentation can at times feel biased towards the Obama camp and so immersed in their campaign th...more
Larry Zieminski
Nov 03, 2010 Larry Zieminski rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buffs
I really enjoyed this book. It isn't a political hatchet job or partisan screed that clutter the "non-fiction" aisles of bookstores these days. It's a history of the 2008 presidential campaign, as seen and experienced by a journalist. Most of the information was obtained from extensive interviews with the future president, who gave the author Richard Wolffe close access. It's not a tell-all book (President Obama expected to win, so as he told Richard Wolffe, he couldn't say what he really felt a...more
I anticipated this book when it came out. Good end, good beginning, the middle there's not much new. It came out very quickly in 09, and the most interesting part was the last chapter, TRANSITION. I lived through this so vividly during that time, it took some major behind the scenes stuff to get me going through each chapter. Much more interesting would be the YEAR ONE book, or others. Obama says it himself when talking about te book : what if its a boring story? What if we win, and its just bec...more
As a field organizer on the ground for Obama, I was excited to pick up a book about the stories I missed (sometimes you're just more concerned with everything right in front of you). I did not learn anything new from Wolffe's book, except a few anecdotes that I enjoyed. The "Barack X" chapter was particularly well handled and really contextualized Obama's thought and practice concerning race and African-American identity in the US. This book was a bit simplistic, a little too glowing, some of th...more
Erick Worrell
Lengthy but detailed, thorough and personal. Richard Wolffe's up-close examination of the amazing ride of President Barack Obama is engaging and brilliant. The tremendous attention to detail is staggering, which can feel like a bad thing if you're not interested in a particular section; that said, I found the whole thing fascinating. Richard gives a praising account of Obama's leadership and campaign structure (which is hard to call "biased" because everyone praises Obama for what was no doubt a...more
Insightful and interesting, with a very pro-Obama picture of the new president. My only objection is that it all seemed a bit disorganized. I understand why Wolffe did it, but be warned that it doesn't follow a straight timeline format. Wolffe jumps back and forth, and eliminates election night from the narrative. He also never points out that Obama led in the primaries from pole to pole and that after February, Clinton had almost no chance to catch him. Still, this is very much worth a read for...more
If I hadn't talked to someone who recommended the book and told me that "Renegade" is Obama's Secret Service code name, I would have been turned off by the book's title. And I felt like the author tried too hard to connect the title and the actions of Obama, too much direct "look, he did this, he's a renegade!" But that aside, I enjoyed this and learned a lot from it. Wolffe brings an insider's perspective to the story of Obama's election, from before he had actually decided to run, to shortly a...more
Sheila Gloekler
Because I so thoroughly enjoy listening to Richard Wolffe, and love and respect my President...I knew beforehand that I would enjoy this book.

I am a political junkie and, as such, it was fascinating for me to get the behind-the-scenes details of the planning and implementation of one of the most successful political campaigns, I might add, in which I was an ardent volunteer. I think Wolffe also did a good job of showing the more personal side of Barack Obama....a side we too seldom ge...more
Bob Nichols
The book is interesting enough and, for all his access to Obama, Wolffe does a good job of staying in the background. The Afterword mentions the Theodore White books as an inspiration for this book on the 2008 presidential race. White covered the presidential races from the perspective of all the candidates, not just one as Wolffe does here. The second half of the book jumps around and was harder to follow or maybe it was just less interesting. Wolffe does seem to miss some of the drama of the g...more
Author Richard Wolffe writes, "There was a vital story that could only be told by someone who was there to witness it firsthand." Unfortunately, he is too fawning and his depiction of Obama is sanitized. Explosive events like the Reverend Wright episode pass by with no sense of historical impact. There are confusing jumps in the timeline. He explains how most people don't understand the difference between a caucus and a primary without exlpaining the difference to us.
The gold standard for the ca...more
As an avid Obama supporter, this book was just what I wanted it to be: a compelling account of the campaign and Obama's journey to the Presidency. It was as entertaining as it was interesting. I enjoyed reading about Obama as a person, not just as a candidate. Though I enjoyed Wolffe's account, his writing style was sometimes hard to follow for me because he did not write about the events of the campaign in chronological order; rather, each chapter was developed around a central theme or aspect,...more
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