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A workbook for life! Since about half of our brain power is in the unconsicious brain, any thing that promotes concious thinking and concious change by building new habits to replace the unwanted habits (that are not all that easy to stop) is a wonderful tool. "A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity" tells it all. Be prepared to change and find youself doing those things you have dreamed of doing, but doubted that you had what it takes!
This exhaustive 643-page biography covers most of Barack Obama's family background and upbringing. While it provides the answers to why Obama is such an excellent husband and father, it doesn't answer many of the questions after Obama entered Harvard Law School. The reader is forced to deduct much from flash backs contained in the relating of his earliest history.
Since most people probably won't want to learn this much information about the history and childhood of President Obama, they may find this book disappointing because it is so extensive and requires so much time to read. Others will gobble up every detail of this real-life story and thirst for more. While it's unclear at the moment of this review writing, there appears to be another edition of this book that is only 400-pages, so buyers with less time to spend reading, might want to check out that other listing--"Barack Obama: The Story or Barack Obama: The Making of the Man?"
"This volume is not a traditional biography. It begins long before Obama was born and ends before he entered politics. He is inevitably the principal subject, and I would not have undertaken the book if not for his history-making rise, but he does not appear until the seventh chapter and even after that at times gives way to his relatives....To write a book that leaves its protagonist before this days of notable accomplishment requires an implicit belief that the past is never dead. But when it comes to this book, to the particulars of the Obama story, there are some crosscurrents and countervailing notions to consider."
"...The point of my book is not to keep a scorecard recording the differences between the memoir and the ways things were remembered by others; that would distort the meaning and intent of his book, and of mine. But I do not hesitate to explain those discrepancies when the occur." And the author does explain those discrepancies.
One of Obama's habits was, and remains, making up stuff to suit his needs. An example of this tendency was the "minor case of literary license involving Obama's memoir; the few paragraphs he devoted to his experiences at B.I. and his descriptions of the office atmosphere were seen as distortions and misrepresentations by many of the people who had worked with him." His job behind enemy lines working for the business community so annoyed him that he gave up his office, his private secretary, his suit and tie and returned to the public sector. He makes a big point of this in his memoirs, but according to fellow workers, Obama's job helping edit business newsletters was as one of several clerks working in a back room in casual dress, no secretary and no fancy office. "Obama's office was the size of a cubicle, barely large enough to fit a desk, and faced an interior hallway: He had no secretary, and the dress code was informal; people in his position rarely if ever wore suits."
In this biography, the historian-author points out how when Obama needed to help make a point or explain some of his epiphanies, he would make up characters and or embellish event to help make his points. The characters that may have been completely fictitious included characters that were an amalgamation of several real or imagined people.
The President has continued to invent facts and stories to embellish his parables and theories. These falsehoods, odd interpretations and downright fantasies sometimes show up in his speeches. There is even some danger if President Obama starts believing his own fabrications. "This year...will be remembered as the year that sea levels receded and the earth began to heal..." is a concept Senator Obama didn't hesitate to leave in an important campaign speech concerning the importance of his nomination to be President. The problems with that speech and what it tells people about the President's possible messiah complex may indicate his need for fantasy.
This reader-reviewer was fascinated with the author's explanation of how Obama makes decisions. "It helped explain his caution, his tendency to hold back and survey life like a chessboard, looking for where he might get checkmated, analyzing the moves two and three steps ahead. There were times when this approach made him appear distant, slow, reluctant to decide and out of touch with the zeitgeist."
This reviewer won't even attempt to give more detailed information about those factors that influence the President's decision-making progress. The reader will have to read this excellent 643-page biography to gain those insights. They are spread throughout the history.
"My perspective in researching and writing this book, and my broader philosophy, is shaped by a contradiction that I cannot and never intend to resolve."
Frankly the biographies about Obama now being published are kind of overwhelming the market. Where were all those insights and histories before the 2008 elections when the little-known President was elected on little more than a promise of hope and change? It's only now that much important information about the current President is being published. It's nice that some journalists are finally providing that material, but it would have been much more helpful five or six years ago.
Examples of the details included in this biography include the fact that at Columbia Obama discovered "one oddly familiar aspect of this Columbia routine; the walk to school. Here was a variation of his high school days: five blocks from the front door of his walk-up to the lower boundary of campus, the same distance as from his grandparents' apartment on South Beretania to the old lava rock walls gracing the lower entrance to Punahou School. Then and now the most direct route passed a church and a hospital..." the author then takes his readers along the entire route and points out how he also passed a church and a hospital walking to Columbia. The author had obviously painstakingly traversed those two routes himself and describes them much like Thomas Hardy described a short stroll on a country road--in great detail and more detail and then more detail.
He also described the gritty Columbia neighborhood where Obama walked and many other late night strollers would only travel by walking in the center of the street to help avoid muggers. "Nearby emergency rooms had refined the medical art of removing cockroaches from people's ears." Other tales of the area mentioned how "three Columbia freshman trudged home with a carpet they found and were basking in the good fortune of their curbside bounty until they unfurled the rug and discovered a corpse inside with two bullet wounds through the head. Then there were the gruesome stories Columbia rowers brought back from workouts on the Harlem River...along with dodging slicks of raw sewage, at least twice during the early 1980s the rowers saw what they called `floaters,' dead bodies in the river, one being the dockside body of a fully dressed dead postman."
David Maraniss has done a wonderful job detailing the immense amount of material covered in this book and it will be great to read his sequel when he writes it a couple of decades from now.
Oh, and by the way, one of the most interesting parts of this book involves a casual lunch meeting where the riddle "Stanley had a baby" was one of the conversation topics of the week's events. The readers will find this valuable information very enlightening as well as utterly surprising.
He is also one of the first to acknowledge that it is very risky to do a history on a real time basis. So much can change in an instant that changes history and it's reporting.