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Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  333 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Rising Star is the definitive account of Barack Obama's formative years that made him the man who became the forty-fourth president of the United Statesfrom the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Bearing the Cross

Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention instantly catapulted him into the national spotlight and led to his election four years later as A
ebook, 1472 pages
Published May 9th 2017 by William Morrow
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Wil A. Emerson There should is the most tedious, boring book ever! But then..

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Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book,'Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama' by Dr. David Garrow, is difficult for me to write about. At 1,472 pages (including a couple hundred pages of source notes), this book was a behemoth and quite dense although extremely well-researched and documented. In an interview with Dr. Garrow, he stated that he spent 9 years conducting interviews and researching the material for this biography of Barack Obama. Although the book seemed at times overly detailed, I admit that I am in awe of D ...more
The New York Times book review described Rising Star as "tedious & bloated" I agree 100%.

Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama is a mammoth endeavor. This book is very,very,very long and to make matters worse I didn't learn anything important that I didn't already know. This book could've really used a editor.. Badly. You would think at well over 1000 pages you would learn something about our 44th President but nope. Nothing.. The entire 8 year Obama Presidency is smushed into a 50 page epilo
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the quintessential political biography of our time. I was completely enamored with this book from start to finish. Garrow spent over 9 years on his research, and it shows. His attention to detail is incredible. The book itself is highly informative but remains accessible throughout. For those complaining about the length, I don't know what to tell you. The rise of Barack Obama is an incredible story and deserves a comprehensive examination, which this book provides in spades.

I could not
Ron Turner
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
An exhaustive and often fascinating look at Obama before he was president from the same historian who won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the character flaws of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Could've done without the first and last chapters, but otherwise the author does a great job at cutting through all the myths about Barack Obama.

The myth of his name. He actually grew up Barry, a spoiled kid raised by upper middle-class white grandparents in Hawaii. He didn't call himself Barack until college whe
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was ok

David Garrow’s “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama” was published in 2017 and named a “Best Book of 2017” by The Washington Post. Garrow is a professor of Law & History at the University of Pittsburgh and received the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for “Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.”

Spanning 1,078 pages of text (with more than 300 additional pages of notes and bibliography), this weight
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
A difficult book to rate - with this genre, it's not really possible to "like" the book - it's more that one can appreciate the work without necessarily agreeing with the author or accepting his conclusions. The book is 1400+ pages, over 7 pounds, extremely small type. It seems to be meticulously researched, has 400 pages of notes, references and index. It ends just before the 2008 campaign so the author probably has a second volume planned. It is not particularly complimentary to the former Pre ...more
Joshua Taylor
Few books have provoked such disparate feelings from me upon completion. On the one hand, this is a tour-de-force - a massive book (about 1100 pages of main content plus hundreds of pages of notes) that took nine years to research and write, including interviews with over 1000 people. The book provided a great deal of insight into Obama's history, and I am now much more familiar with the grand arc of his story and how it all fits together, including what exactly he did as a community organizer. ...more
Ken Ransom
May 28, 2017 rated it liked it

OMG, at more than 1,084 pages (plus 275 pages of notes), Rising Star based on more than 1,000 interviews and consultations, and just about everything that was written about the 44th president. Sometimes the book feels tedious and just too much of a good thing. Incidents and Statements are repeated often enough that a reader might feel they've lost their place and were rereading what they'd already read.

If there is an advantage to this it is that the reader can cherry pick those things that
Before Michelle, Barack Obama asked another woman to marry him. Then politics got in the way.

Obama biography stirs controversy with tales of politics, sex and a rising star

"it was...,guess who..."
Andy Miller
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While others have criticized this biography for being too critical of President Obama or too pedantic, too detailed and too long, I give it five stars. And I am a huge Obama fan.You can admire Obama and also appreciate this book if you accept that Obama is human and like all of us have exaggerated things in your past, not always treated all friends well, and have made decisions that have been influenced by ambition and pragmatism. And that different people who knew Obama in the past had the same ...more
R. Lawrence
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good book, but learned nothing new. Could have used another Editor, the opening chapters concerning the steel companies in Chicago were quite tedious. Very long book but as I said learned nothing new! But well worth the Read.
Dan Alper
(Should probably be 3.5 stars)
This book is a slog - the author has been compared to Robert Caro and other tireless researchers of his ilk, and he has certainly done his work. But whereas Caro, for one, is able to not only prove to you that he has done immeasurable research while weaving it within a succinct narrative, Garrow often seems to want to display the fact that he has done the work - and he clearly has - seemingly to no end. There are multiple instances where he quotes random folks in an
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics, biography
There is much that I enjoyed about this hefty biography. I may have liked it more than the 3 star rating, but some of the tediousness pushes the rating down a bit. Slogging through the opening chapters recounting the history of the steel industry and its woes in Chicago for several decades before Obama came on the scene was more than a biography reader may have needed, for instance.

But, still there were many things to gain from this reading. Getting through this massive work, I learned the follo
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
At over 1000 pages I haven't actually read every word but certainly enough to be impressed. Among other things Garrow exhaustively covers Chicago issues and politics displaying a thorough and balanced view. His description of Obama's character and career is similarly thorough and balanced but won't be seen that way by Obamamanaics because he reveals the weaknesses as well as the strengths of Obama's not totally likable personality. This is far from a gossipy, journalistic tell all. Garrow is an ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enlightening! This was an incredibly dense and involved read. At times it reminded me War and Peace because there are so many characters to keep straight. Nonetheless, the book reveals some interesting tidbits and helps explain the Obama presidency.
Michael Wear
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely masterful. I obviously disagreed with parts (if you're only going to cover the presidency in an epilogue, not sure it should be covered), but the first 2/3 of the book were fascinating. It provided an education in about 17 different subjects. ...more
Megan Chrisler
May 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book is best for historians, political junkies, and avid Obama fans--none of which describe me. My criticism against it is the same as many others: it is incredibly dense, including information that I didn't need or care about. I found myself just trying to get through it instead of enjoying it.

With that said, if you're the type who is looking for every piece of information about Obama or the political world he worked in, this book will give it to you and a lot more. I did learn a lot about
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a monster of a book, so I’ll try to do it justice with this review.

First of all, when going into a roughly 1500 page book, it’s beneficial to calibrate your expectations. As such, this is my outline of the book for anyone considering starting this book.

1) It is a massive data dump. You are going to get specific details on very mundane aspects of Obama’s life. Wondering what poetry he was reading in 1982? Want to know about the marriage and kids of some minor Chicago union activist of mi
Luke Stacks
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I got a strange thrill out of reading this perverse book. Garrow produced a nearly non-narrative biography, one whose endless accumulations of detail remind me of a Frederick Wiseman documentary because the readers are expected to do the bulk of the editing in their own heads and reach their own conclusions. Individual paragraphs often mash together fundraising, speeches, and family anecdotes, without any kind of a topic sentence to bind them. Many readers will grow tired of, for example, readin ...more
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, politics
Rising Star is a dense read that fills in a great deal of detail and provides a skeptical take on a career that has often been sugarcoated or treated incompletely. Perhaps the most fascinating chapters are those that cover the best known events in Obama's life. In these, Garrow adds a critical note to many moments and is unwilling to give most actions of the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt. It's valuable to see several points of a presidency that many embrace nostalgically examined ...more
Pretty, but not very, good overall ... and yet.

That "and yet" is primarily a compositional issue.

Given that this book was doorstop-sized BUT Garrow had only devoted 100 or so of the pages to Obama's presidency AND an almost literal nothingburger of half a dozen pages to his second term, the solution is obvious, especially if Garrow and even more, his publisher, wanted something in print for 2017 when Obama was leaving the White House.

Take a page from Robert Caro and split this volume into two. O
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If what you hoped was to find was a definitive account of Barack Obama, I really suggest that you look elsewhere. It has nothing to do with the specific substance of the text, it has to do more with how utterly ridiculously detailed it is to a degree that I have seen nowhere else. You may think that what you want is all the little details, the entire rise to power. But that is not true, I beg to differ that what you wanna hear is the first fifty pages lecturing on the Steel Industry of 1980’s So ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this maybe actually a 3.75 than a 4.0, but to clarify, I think I really learned a lot. There is a lot to unpack here and David Garrow does a lot of research attempting to do so. The notes run 271 pages and quite frankly I was not up to that task, but I am a huge note reader and have six sheets of my own notes to research further.

I know Barack Obama is a polarizing figure, so I'm just going to state this one thing. To me, Jimmy Carter is the epitome of a President who wanted to make change
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
When a movie is more than two hours, I expect every scene to be justified. A similar principle applies to a 1472 page book, and Rising Star fails on that front. I was in full eye-roll mode when it told me the number of parking tickets Obama got as he was finishing up law school. The book is, however, very well researched and cited, and, to the extent that one can get through its sheer length, pretty readable.

It's impossible to write a totally unbiased book-length biography, and I found some segm
DNF'd after chapter 1. 41 pages that had absolutely nothing to with Barack Obama. My gosh, I've never been so annoyed with a book before. I was so angry at the waste of time that I can't go on. This book has almost 1,500 pages in it when you include the chapter notes, bibliography, acknowledgments, and index., who needs 382 for those.The actual book stops at pg. 1078. You can't even hold this book, it's too heavy and cumbersome. Where's an editor when you need one.
Garrow, lost me from the get
Ju Haghverdian
[2.5 stars]
This book was quite extensive and very hard to get through. The writing was boring and crowded with details that were quite irrelevant to Obama's life narrative to be honest.

One thing it did to me was to show how Obama was indeed an empty vessel. I mean, I really like Michelle and Barack and how they fought and fight for their girls and fight for girls rights. But when you think about his accomplishments and the little experience and time he took to get there, what did he really accom
Pat Lampe
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I downloaded this from the library and read and read. When I checked to see how much remained, I was horrified to see there were over 1000 "pages." This book was very interesting and revealing. I don't care for his policies or his demeanor but the book did put to rest some of the rumors I have heard. The man is extremely bright and calculating, prickly, secretive. I'm sure his childhood as a boy whose parents abandoned him has much to do with the man he became. The author worked hard on this boo ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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Donald Trump (Parody)
Aug 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Totally nonsense. Believe me I blew through this in a day and can tell you for a fact Barry Hussein knew nothing about rising. He was so old he probably hadn't gotten a rise out of anything in 20 years. Believe me I know a lot about rising. I do it everyday, and I'm doing it as we speak. SKIP! ...more
Mustafa Qadri
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable work of contemporary history, Garrow's work paints a meticulous portrait of one of the most talented politicians of our times. The book is long and does sometimes feel a bit too onerous, especially when the author veers into descriptions of tangential events. But it is a work of history and not popular non-fiction, more concerned with rigour than trying to please the reader. Despite criticism of the book when it was first published, it paints what I consider to be an overwhelmingly ...more
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David J. Garrow is Professor of Law & History and Distinguished Faculty Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

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“Barack went on to explain that “there was a voice inside me that I could hear that was true—a kernel of myself—this is from a Borges poem—sort of a love poem to a mistress of his,” one that Jorge Luis Borges had written in 1934. “He says ‘I offer you that kernel of myself that is basically untouched, doesn’t traffic in the trivial or the petty or is just there’” (a close rendition of Borges’s declaration, “I offer you that kernel of myself that I have saved, somehow—the central heart that deals not in words, traffics not with dreams, and is untouched by time, by joy, by adversities”). Barack told Weisberg, “I felt that. That sounds like god to me,” and “to me god is connection . . . making connections, and in that connection, that’s where I find god.” 1 likes
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