The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama's Father

The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama's Father

by Sally H. Jacobs

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The deeply reported, untold story of the father the president barely knewSee more details below


The deeply reported, untold story of the father the president barely knew

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this fantastic biography, Boston Globe reporter Jacobs shows how Barack Obama, Sr. transcended the circumstances of his youth in colonial Kenya (where "No Africans or Dogs Allowed" was the norm), only to succumb to alcoholism and womanizing. Having gained entrance to the best secondary school available to a native, the remarkably gifted Obama, Sr. was dismissed after four years, in part due to his impetuousness and contrarian personality-a pattern that would continue throughout his life. However, with the providential help of Elizabeth Mooney, an American teacher in Nairobi, he attended the University of Hawaii. After three years, his second marriage (to Ann Dunham, president Obama's mother), fatherhood, and an undergraduate degree, he left for Harvard, where he was investigated by the INS for conflicting reports of his marital status and number of wives, as well as his claim that his child in Hawaii was to be put up for adoption. Dismissed by Harvard, the arrogant Obama, Sr. returned to Kenya without a Ph.D., but nonetheless expected an important position in the new government. Within this compelling story of Obama, Sr.'s squandered talents and opportunities, Jacobs weaves a picture of Kenya as colony and new nation. Photos.
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From the Publisher
Taylor Branch, author of Parting the Waters and The Clinton Tapes
“This is a work of genuine discovery. Sally Jacobs portrays the senior Obama with boundless humanity and unflinching candor. Through his fractured family quest, she illuminates both the pitfalls and promise of freedom in a shrinking world. Her biography will enrich our concept of a founding father.”

John Lonsdale, Emeritus Professor of Modern African History, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
“My favorite injunction to historians—or biographers—comes from the Nigerian playwright and poet Wole Soyinka: ‘Leave the dead some room to dance.’ The other Barack certainly knew how to dance, literally, intellectually, socially and sexually. Sally Jacobs has wonderfully restored him to life in the contradictory contexts of colonial and independent Kenya, the one exploitative and repressive yet capable of social mobility, the other exciting, full of unprecedented opportunity yet also divisive and chilling in its rivalries. Barack, like Icarus, flew too high. The many women who loved him have borne the burden of his fall. Jacobs brings triumph and tragedy brilliantly together.”

Martin Meredith, author of The Fate of Africa
“Sally Jacobs has pieced together the wayward career of President Obama’s African father with skill, verve, and insight, prising out the quirks of fate that led him to the shores of the United States. From interviews with family members, friends, and colleagues, she paints a vivid portrait of a clever, charming, callous, and secretive man, a prolific drinker and philanderer, who squandered the many chances that came his way and died in Kenya in straitened circumstances, the victim of his own inner demons, hardly knowing the son who was to scale the pinnacle of power.”

The Spectator, July 7, 2011
“I had expected to dip briefly into this tale of hubris, but found myself strangely mesmerized, hooked until the end. With the meticulousness characteristic of a certain breed of American foreign correspondent, Sally Jacobs pulls off an impressive double-hander of her own, painting a detailed portrait of an emerging African nation while tracking the dogged self-destruction of a braggadocio crippled by the conviction of his own superiority.”

Kirkus, July 15, 2011
“A pioneering, full-scale biography of President Obama’s father, a promising but troubled man.  Boston Globe reporter Jacobs puts her investigative skills to work in following the elder Obama’s trail across continents and years… A thorough study of a subject who is hard to pin down—a welcome, evenhanded addition to the lively literature surrounding President Obama’s genealogy.”

The Daily, July 17, 2011
“Sally Jacobs, a reporter for the Boston Globe, reaffirms and deepens the record, drawing on interviews with the sprawling Obama family and their acquaintances, as well as on memoirs and other historical sources… It provides fascinating clues to understanding the President’s puzzle of a father.”
Tyler Cowen’s Marginal Revolution, July 19, 2011
Morozov's ‘The Net Delusion’ should be read by cockeyed optimists and pessimists alike. It's as important today as McLuhan's  books ("The Gutenberg Galaxy," "Understanding Media," "The Medium is the Massage," etc.) were in the 1950s through the 1970s.”

Mail on Sunday (UK), July 31, 2011
 “With admirable endeavour, Sally Jacobs has pieced together the hidden fragments of Obama Snr’s life, tracking down family members, friends and colleagues, sifting through official documents and prising out the quirks of fate that led him to Hawaii in the first place.”
Irish Times, July 30, 2011
“[an] intriguing story about the father of the American President…Jacobs tells a fascinating story of a likeable, reckless, talented fool whose dreams of himself far exceeded his ability to realize them.”
Scotland on Sunday, July 31, 2011 “(The) impressive research work undertaken by Boston Globe journalist Sally Jacobs (is) a worthwhile exercise, and a useful read for those seeking to understand more fully America’s first black president.”

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Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.36(w) x 6.36(h) x 1.17(d)

Meet the Author

Sally H. Jacobs lives in Boston. She has been a reporter for over three decades, most recently with The Boston Globe. She has specialized in political reporting and profiles including the famously reclusive Joan Kennedy, Michelle Obama, and Pat Patrick, Deval Patrick's father. This is her first book.

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