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Obama: A Promise of Change

Obama: A Promise of Change

by David Mendell, Sarah L. Thomson (Adapted by)

Barack Obama captured America's attention when he delivered his renowned keynote address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Since then, he has come to represent unity among people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Follow the story of a boy named Barry, from his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia to his time at Occidental College studying


Barack Obama captured America's attention when he delivered his renowned keynote address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Since then, he has come to represent unity among people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Follow the story of a boy named Barry, from his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia to his time at Occidental College studying Nietzsche. Obama's desire to make the world better prompted him to become a community organizer in Chicago, attend Harvard Law School, and eventually set his sights on a U.S. senatorial seat. By encouraging his many followers to believe in America's great promise, Obama has become a symbol of hope and change.

From veteran Chicago Tribune journalist David Mendell comes a rich portrait of Obama's life up until his decision to run for president. An afterword looks at Obama's presidential campaign through the Ohio primary, and a photo insert lets readers see history in the making. This book is adapted from Obama: From Promise to Power, winner of an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Claire Rosser
The publisher puts the readership of this biography of Obama for ages 8—12—I'd say the readership is more accurately from 12—16. Mendell is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and has covered much of Obama's political career in that job. He uses information from his own interviews with Obama or Obama's staff for much of the text, as well as writing about events he reported on, such as Senator Obama's journey to Africa in 2006. Much of the information about Obama's childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood comes from the author's interviews with Obama, with Obama's grandmother, and with friends and colleagues from Harvard Law School, from the years working in Chicago before Obama ran for office, and interviews with Michelle Obama. Much is quoted from Obama's own memoir, Dreams From My Father. Mendell has tried to make the text appealing to younger readers by mentioning more about basketball than is probably warranted, such as the reference several times to the fact that in high school Obama had an argument with a coach and was benched for several games. Actually, however, this biography is serious about political decisions, political strategy, and political philosophy. It is careful reporting, and deserves a place on the shelf of every middle school library and every public library YA collection—especially since Obama is the Democratic nominee. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
VOYA - Pam Carlson
He was eloquent but it was a politician's talk. A Kenyan student made this comment during Barack Obama's 2006 visit to Africa. That trip was meant to be a touching reunion with his father's people but comes across more as a publicity event, part of "The Plan" Obama's advisers have charted for his career. This adaptation of the author's adult-marketed Obama: From Promise to Power (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2008) is a smoothly written account of Senator Obama's life from childhood with a single mother to inspiring presidential candidacy. He is portrayed as a powerfully eloquent speaker with the ability to leave audiences with a renewed sense of hope for their lives and their country. Excerpts from several of his speeches are captivating, but this quick-reading biography dances across the Senator's surface only. There are no specifics concerning either what he has accomplished or what he will do and no list of legislative bills written or sponsored by him although his opposition to the war in Iraq is quite clear. There are few references to his extended family and any struggles he might have because of his mixed-racial heritage. The controversial people in his life are avoided completely or in the case of his pastor Wright, mentioned without including any incendiary comments. Wife Michelle is depicted as his fiercest and most loyal supporter but practical also in her concern over the effect of his career and fame upon his family. In the end, readers have almost more understanding of her than of her husband. Reviewer: Pam Carlson
School Library Journal

Gr 6-8

This adaptation of Mendell's adult book Obama: From Promise to Power (HarperCollins, 2007) summarizes the life of Obama through March 2008, describing his upbringing, changing family, education, and political work. The text is accurate and well researched, with endnotes providing citations for each chapter. Captioned black-and-white photographs appear in a centerfold. Though the lack of an index makes this title more appropriate for reading from cover to cover than for research projects, the table of contents does allow youngsters to locate specific times in Obama's life by topic. Brief chapters and accessible vocabulary are appropriate for the intended audience, although adult assistance might be needed for total comprehension of the discussions of how politicians operate in party politics, run campaigns, and hire image-builders. These ideas may be unfamiliar to younger kids, and may need some explanation.-Sara Rofofsky Marcus, Yeshiva Har Torah, Little Neck, NY

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Obama: A Promise of Change
By David Mendell
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2008 David Mendell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061697012

Chapter One

Got Some Game

I'm LeBron, baby.
—Barack Obama

The swagger in Barack Obama's step appeared even cockier than usual on the afternoon of July 27, 2004.

Obama led reporters, aides, and a couple of friends around a maze of chain-link security fences guarding the FleetCenter arena in Boston. A former high school basketball player, Obama walked as if he were heading to the free throw line for the game-winning shot. Hours later, Obama would take his first steps onto the stage to deliver his now famous 2004 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention—the meeting where the Democratic party would pick its nominee to run for president of the United States.

Obama would not be chosen to run for president in 2004. He wasn't even in the running. But his speech would take him from being a little-known politician from Illinois to someone recognized across the country.

I was a newspaper reporter covering Obama, and I was wondering if his strut was something of an act. Would he really make a national name for himself here?

I slipped up to Obama and told him that he seemed to be impressing many people.

Obama, his gaze fixed directly ahead, never broke his stride.

"I'm LeBron, baby," he replied. He was talking about LeBron James, the amazingly talented teenager who at the time waswowing crowds and teammates in the National Basketball Association. "I can play on this level. I got some game."

I wasn't so sure.

That evening, Obama introduced himself to America. He spoke of his beloved mother's belief in a humanity that all people share. He declared that America is a land of good-hearted people, a nation of citizens who have more to unite them than to divide them, a country held together by a belief in freedom and opportunity for all. "There's not a liberal America and a conservative America—there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America—there's the United States of America. . . . We are one people. . . ."

Democrats from many different states, many different races, had tears in their eyes. I heard myself speak aloud.

"Yes, indeed. Tonight, Barack, you are LeBron, baby."

But three years later, as Obama campaigned to win the Democratic Party's 2008 nomination for the U.S. presidency, there were questions: exactly how had Obama moved this far, this fast—and was it too fast? Did he have the experience and toughness needed for the White House? Was his mixed racial ancestry a problem, an advantage, or both? Could this young senator with an idealistic message survive the pressure of a race for the presidency?

And most of all, even though many voters were enchanted with Obama, would the rest of America trust this newcomer enough to make him the leader of their country?


Excerpted from Obama: A Promise of Change by David Mendell Copyright © 2008 by David Mendell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

David Mendell, author of Obama: From Promise to Power, has been writing about politics and urban issues for the Chicago Tribune since 1998. Mr. Mendell lives in Oak Park, Illinois.

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