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The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,108 ratings  ·  162 reviews
No story has been more central to America’s history this century than the rise of Barack Obama, and until now, no journalist or historian has written a book that fully investigates the circumstances and experiences of Obama’s life or explores the ambition behind his rise. Those familiar with Obama’s own best-selling memoir or his campaign speeches know the touchstones and ...more
Hardcover, 672 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Knopf (first published 2010)
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New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2010
56th out of 100 books — 630 voters
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President Obama
5th out of 30 books — 14 voters

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Community Reviews

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Erik Simon
When a friend gave this to me recently, I wasn't sure I would read it. I thought it was too soon for a biography on Obama. But then I realized that it wasn't too soon to talk about his life up to this point. After all, that's not going to change. In addition, when it comes to history, we tend to think the more recent the better, but the fact is that those books written about people or events closer to their time tend to capture nuance in a way the later stuff can't. For instance, Simon Schama's ...more
This dense and detailed look at a moment in history when Obama began his run for the White House in the end gives the reader the sense of a blind man running his hands over an elephant, or Galileo gazing at the stars. The detail just makes one jealous to know those things we are not reading about--what was he thinking, not just what he was saying. One wants the man himself, not just the story of him.

In the end, every book about this period is bound to be a disappointment in itself. It cannot cap
I very much doubt there'll be a better biography of Barack Obama, at least not within the next decade or so, because this book is truly excellent. I came away from it not just with a better understanding of Obama, but the civil rights movement and race relations in America in general.

It really clarified my image of Obama as an extraordinary man - not necessarily an extraordinary President, because history will tell on that one, and simply being the first African-American President in no way guar
This was an excellent biography that revealed many different facets of the man who is our president. David Remnick's research is comprehensive. He did not shy away from reporting what some of Obama's detractors have to say, but clearly Obama has made more friends than enemies among the people he has met directly and/or befriended. I was particularly interested in his early life as a black child raised by white people-- his grandparents. Because I have two adopted African grandsons, I enjoyed the ...more
This book took me longer to read than any I have picked up in a long time. Usually I could not put a book down, but this one I almost had to, just to digest the information. There is an excellent backdrop of American history in this book, especially with the civil rights movement. There were quite a few things I learned about reading this book. I think that anyone could enjoy this, regardless of your personal opinion of Barack Obama, or your political beliefs. It was an amazing book for laying o ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Most reviewers were pleasantly surprised to find that anyone could find anything new to say about the president, since he is one of the most scrutinized people on the planet and has already written two memoirs. But Remnick pulls off The Bridge, in part, through innovative and exhaustive research. Several critics remarked how Remnick's reporting expanded their views of the Obama of Dreams From my Father; others were grateful for the author's elucidation of the president's crucial years in Chicago ...more
Mary Verdick
As Long as He Needs Me by Mary Verdick

Inspirational and Revealing!

Fascinating journey and ascent of a younng black man, who in the beginning seemed to have little going for him. With a brilliant, but self-delusional Kenyan father, who deserted him as a baby and a devoted, but often absent mother, Barack (known as Barry growing up)learned at an early age that he had to more or less shift for himself. Fortunately he met the right people along the way who helped him on his journey, and he didn't waste time feeling sorry for himself. I
Kalimah Priforce
Apr 06, 2010 Kalimah Priforce marked it as to-read
I was very impressed with the connection David Remnick made of Malcom X and Pres. Obama (on Charlie Rose 4/6/2010) which is often largely ignored.
Maureen Flatley
Terrific. One of several definitive books about the President and campaign. Recommend highly. You can never go wrong w/ Remnick's writing.
I am enjoying taking my time in this book. I am about half-way through. Here is my favorite sentiment so far:

"Narrative is the most powerful thing we have. From a spiritual point of view, much of what is important about us can't be seen. If we don't know people's stories, we don't know who they are. If you want to understand them or try to help them, you have to find out their story." (Jerry Kellman, community organizer in South Side Chicago).

"He (Obama) had learned a lot from books, but there
May 17, 2010 Jane rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like politics
I am shocked to discover this isn’t a best seller, at least didn’t reach #1 and stay there, because it is a fascinating book about a fascinating man. Although it perhaps goes a little easy of the “warts and all” aspects of Obama’s character, it does reveal his strong self-confidence and ego, while also outlining his extreme intellect and ability to build bridges among opposing factions, and to look at all sides of an issue, a quality much needed by a president in these times. The term “bridge” r ...more
Jim Leffert
This lengthy (591 pages) book tells us in considerable detail all that we already know about the life and election of Obama, with some added information, based on Remnick’s extensive interviewing and research, plus perspective offered by Remnick. Remnick situates Obama’s life and rise to the Presidency within the history of race in America. Obama represents the “Joshua generation”, a generation that missed out on the struggles and heroics of the Civil Rights movement era but having benefited fro ...more
This biography of Barack Obama, by the white editor of "The New Yorker", offers a little more detail about the lives of Obama's parents than hitherto discussed, more detail about his schooling, and much more information about his life as a community organizer and state senator in Illinois, and his subsequent political campaigns. His mother achieved a PhD; she is not usually discussed in detail, but she was a courageous, warm and intelligent person. His father had expected a government role on hi ...more
Blog on Books
You would have to be living under a rock, as they say, not to have noticed New Yorker editor David Remnick making the rounds of the news-talk shows the last few weeks in support of his new book, ‘The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.’ Remnick has appeared on virtually every show and newspaper column and seemingly for good reason. For as much as there are more Obama books on the market than any first year president in recent memory, ‘The Bridge’ stands out as the one book, save Obama’s o ...more
Richard Etzel
I think if you are interested in the political process; if you long to understand our current president; if you wish to understand the Obama policies; if you want to know how it was possible to win the presidency when most people had never heard of him, then you should read David Remnick's book about the man. David clearly lays out how Pres. Obama came to the notice of the American public: through strength of intellect, persistence, calmness under attack, determination to offer a new form of lea ...more
Made it to page 122. Too slow, too dry, and at least in the first 122 pages too full of information I already knew or had read elsewhere. The new information that was presented I'm not that interested in. The details of Obama's mother's doctoral dissertation? The record of the basketball team that Obama played on when he was in high school and his "odd, but effective, double-pump jump shot that he took in the lane off the dribble"? No thanks.

The other reviewers here suggest that the book picks
Susan Hester
This is an extraordinary biography of Barack Obama. The author uses the bridge as a metaphor from slavery and the civil rights movement to the election of the first African American President. What is so incredible is the amount of research he has woven into what we know or think we know. It is truly a history lesson. Having not read Obama's own books, I can't make a comparison but what I do know is that I learned much and admire the man even more.
Maughn Gregory
Beautifully-written, in-depth biography of Obama from his childhood through his swearing in as President. I was deeply impressed by the narrative of how Obama carefully, intentionally constructed his personhood - his sense of who he is and what his life would be about - drawing on his multi-ethnic background, his multi-national up-bringing, and years of study and inquiry into African-American history and the civil rights movement.
Mary Gail O'Dea
Excellent and engaging look at Obama. It is not at all dry because it includes short bios on many major figures in his life. It also looks in depth at the Hawaiian and Indonesian cultures in which he was formed and at the many facets of Chicago socio-political realities and personalities in which he grew as a politician. Really explains the bases of his global views, his pragmatism, and his determined search for middle ground.
Vishwa Hannerdumath
It was nice to read about the upbringing and the environment in which Obama grew up. The opinion of others who were once part of his life gives a good perspective of how others viewed Obama when he was just another person. In the later chapters reading about the political situation and how things were pursued/came together is fascinating.
Beth J
Fascinating. Gives you a real sense of Obama's background, personality, and style of leadership. Lots of 'insider insight' from those very close to him - friends, family, campaign people. Meticulously researched and written by the editor of the New Yorker - no wonder he got all those interviews.
Vince Carter
Superb, insightful writing, much more interesting glimpses inside the presidential campaign than "Game Change" and more importantly an informative look at Barack's heritage and experiences in life, in school, and in work before politics.
I highly recommend this book. It gave me a real understanding of how Obama became what he is. Also, many interesting insights about politics.
JoAnn Jordan
This is a very well written book about our president. I found it informative and unbiased.

I highly recommend this book.
Very well researched with new insights into Obama's childhood, his mother, his political life in Chicago
Extremely readable
De Brug. Leven en opkomst van Barack Obama vertelt het verhaal van het leven en de verkiezing van de eerste Afro-Amerikaanse president van Amerika. Sinds de val van het communisme in 1991 is er geen enkele gebeurtenis geweest die over de hele wereld zozeer tot de verbeelding heeft gesproken als de verkiezing van Barack Obama. Amerika werd opnieuw het land van de onbegrensde mogelijkheden, van hoop en van openheid. Het bijzondere was dat dit allemaal werd bewerkstelligd door een politicus die nog ...more
I've read quite a number of books about Obama, from the ones that were available during the 2008 campaign like David Mendell's "Obama: from Promise to Power" to the ones covering his first year in office like Richard Wolffe's "Revival", Bob Woodward's "Obama's Wars" and Jonathon Alter's "The Promise", not to mention Obama's two books. I list these books to brag but rather to show how David Remnick's book "The Bridge" is different.
Even though Remnick's book goes through all the events of Obama's
Brad Hodges
The Bridge is, as the subtitle suggests, at the life and rise of Barack Obama, and at times it's a great read. But it is a long book, with several tangents that sometimes seem appropriate and sometimes seems like the author is being paid by the word.

David Remnick, the editor The New Yorker, starts the book with a look at Obama's parents, in particular his father, a man who had several families and ended up embittered and impotent with anger. Obama was determined not to repeat his mistakes. Remni
Well obviously, I put this book on hold for several months. The first chapter or two, didn't tell the story quite like I'd expected. It seemed too political. However, when I decided to go back to it, the historical piece was there. The story of the young Obama, the story of his father and stepfather and most importantly the story of his mother is truly interesting. I'm only about 25% into the book, but would recommend it to anyone who wants to know how 'Barry' (Barack) Obama became president of ...more
Marti Garlett
An amazing read for people who want to truly -- even if they are not Democrats -- understand our current and, I would say, somewhat Lincolnesque President, although he has not been as tried as Lincoln. Nevertheless, he has been enormously tried as a man of color who didn't really fit into his family or his country. But he has the brilliance of Lincoln and, like Lincoln, is a trained lawyer and an unpopular politician. Why? Well, Lincoln was considered a country bumpkin and Obama a not-born-in-th ...more
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David Remnick (born October 29, 1958) is an American journalist, writer, and magazine editor. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his book Lenin s Tomb The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker magazine since 1998. He was named Editor of the Year by Advertising Age in 2000. Before joining The New Yorker, Remnick was a reporter and the Moscow correspondent for Th ...more
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