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

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,702 ratings  ·  96 reviews
Barack Obama is arguably the most dynamic political figure to grace the American stage since John F. Kennedy. His meteoric rise from promise to power has stunned even the cynics and inspired a legion of devout followers.


For anyone who wants to know more about the man, David Mendell's Obama is essential reading. Mendell, who covered Obama for the Chicago Tribune, had far-r
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published August 14th 2007 by Amistad (first published 2007)
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4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,702 ratings  ·  96 reviews

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Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 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
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Hilmi Isa
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Catherine Rae
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting read, a great source for any one looking to learn more about the rise of one of the most important politicians in a generation.

The book has several problems, most of them Mendell's. Mendell could be a better writer; he often over writes, something that a more mature writer would not feel the need to do, a red pen and a reread of Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" would do him good.

Mendell also has a tendency to focus too much on the journalism of the story, getting awa
Nicholas Bobbitt
While enjoyable, Mendell seems to not have much of a point with this book that Obama's memoirs would not have given me.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great account of his political career before Presidency. The viewpoint of the author was interesting at some points as he is not a person of color but overall great read.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: never-finished
Can't force myself to finish it. Can't even reach the half of it. Uhhh, these tiny letters are such pain. Maybe another time David.
Eula Muckleroy
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was interesting to hear about his history and some of his struggles. I think the most interesting parts were the telling parts of his character and how he presents himself.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, us-politics
I read this book 11 years after it was originally written. At the time it was written, Barack Obama had just announced his candidacy for the presidency. The book is largely unsure of the kind of book it wants to be. It includes a lot of unnecessary biographical information about Obama, which has been covered more extensively by other authors including Obama. Additionally speaking, it makes a set of assertions about Obama's character, treatment of the press and potential struggle to deal with Rep ...more
Thomas Rush
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Rafael Suleiman
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good biography of President Obama.
H. P.
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jan 28, 2009 added it
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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics-history
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 12, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Mar 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics, non-fiction
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 rated it really liked it
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
Jamie King
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Goodreads Librari...: Is it possible to add a cover for ISBN 9780061689406? 3 14 Aug 23, 2017 09:39PM  
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