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Barack Obama: The Story Audiobook, by David Maraniss Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: David Maraniss Narrator: David Maraniss Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2012 ISBN: 9781442348332
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (322 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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From the author of First In His Class, the definitive biography of Bill Clinton, and When Pride Still Mattered, the bestselling biography of Vince Lombardi, and They Marched Into Sunlight, the classic saga of the Vietnam era—a stunning new multigenerational biography of Barack Obama.

In a groundbreaking work based on hundreds of interviews, including with President Obama, and a trove of letters, journals, and other documents, one of our pre-eminent journalists presents a richly textured account of Barack Obama and the forces that shaped him.
     This book begins in Kansas and Kenya, decades before Obama was born, and ends as he prepares for a political life. The reader gains a deeper insight into the first black president of the United States, revealing as never before the arc of his history, character, contradictions, and ambition. As with First In His Class, Maraniss's seminal book will redefine a president.
     This seamless narrative moves through generations and around the world, evoking time and place so vividly that readers feel they are there. Maraniss explodes the myths as he explores the difficult and colorful lives of the president’s forebears and then follows young Barack from Hawaii to Indonesia to Los Angeles to New York to Chicago as he struggles with self-identity and searches for home. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “This is a revelatory book…which will certainly shape our understanding of President Obama’s strengths, weaknesses, and inscrutabilities. Every few pages Maraniss offers a factual nugget that changes or enlarges the prevailing lore…We never fully know public figures, least of all one whose identity so much involves cool, deliberate reserve. But after this book we know one public figure much better.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • Barack Obama is biography at its best. A prodigiously researched and exquisitely written multigenerational account…With subtlety and sophistication, Maraniss captures and conveys Obama’s sensibilities and sensitivities.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • Barack Obama is a work of monumental ambition…Maraniss’ exhaustive research and lucid writing expands exponentially our knowledge of the president’s history.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Remarkable…Maraniss captures Obama’s search for purpose and the kindling of his ambition with an intimacy unlike that of other biographers—including Obama…[The book] offers the rawest account of his early life and a deeper understanding of his origins. Three and a half years and countless publications after Obama’s Inauguration, that is a remarkable feat.”


  • “Impeccably researched…Stunning in its detail…Maraniss…gets out of the way and lets his first-rate reporting tell the story…It is like watching a magician at work.”

    Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal

  • “There’s far more to this revealing and deeply reported coming-of-age story, a term usually applied to novels…[It] reads like a novel filled with stories too unlikely for fiction…which makes it the best kind of political biography.”

    USA Today

  • Barack Obama is not, in fact, an argument for or against the reelection of the president. It is an argument for the necessity of the book itself—the book as a medium. This biography possesses a richness and scope that cannot be captured in short-form journalism, magazine excerpts, or a mere review. Maraniss has written a global, multigenerational saga that culminates in the emergence of a young man who is knowable, recognizable, and real. Every biographer knows how difficult it is to render an actual human being with the depth of a fictional character…Maraniss approaches the task with deep research, crisp, clean writing, and judicious reflection that never seems intrusive. He not only succeeds, he makes it look easy.”

    Washington Post

  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A 2012 Booklist Editors’ Choice for Biography
  • One of the 2012 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen | 2/18/2014

    " I decided to read this book after hearing the author speak at the National Book Festival. In alternating chapters, Maraniss tells about President Obama's maternal and paternal ancestors, going back three generations. He also reveals how the lives andvarious cultures of these relatives affected and influenced Barack Obama's life. It was extremely well researched and certainly caused me to ponder the possible influences my ancestors may have played in my life. The book was long (500+ pages)and, at times, tedious, but well worth reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Theresa | 2/16/2014

    " I don't give a top rating to many books, movies, or other things. I think that is because as I get older I am increasingly protective of my time, and I am less forgiving of low quality work that wastes that diminishing quantity of time. I hope I'm not just becoming a curmudgeon. I am giving a five-star rating (or at least a 4-1/2), however, to David Maraniss' biography of Barack Obama because it is compelling reading from start to finish, is rigorously researched, and succeeds enormously at what it sets out to do, which is to tell the story of Obama's life up until his entrance into Harvard Law School. It provides context for Obama's story and provides insights into character without over analyzing or making judgements. It is remarkably balanced. This book deserves its high rating, in short, because it is one of the best books of its type I have read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mmiller400m | 2/10/2014

    " I'm trying to read a biography of each president going backwards starting with President Obama. I think I should have picked a different book because this never reached any of his political life or decisions. I'm amazed by Obama and will most likely read something else about him as well. Going into it just know that this will be largely about his family history and he won't even enter the story until about 100 pages in or so. The book takes you through his early life and into his college years. It seemed to really slow down and drag once it hit this point. Still undecided if my Clinton book will be the work of this author or something different. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mark | 2/5/2014

    " Last half -- about Obama from high school through post-college years -- was fascinating. But the first 200-300 pages were a real slog. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessie | 1/25/2014

    " Fascinating read. I only wish the author had spent a little less time on some details, and had gone a little further in Obama's life. It ended before he left for law school, and I was curious to read more. But overall, very interesting, very well researched biography. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jack | 1/15/2014

    " Has David Maraniss ever met a detail he didn't include in a book? The book is thoroughly researched, but it seems to me that it's an important part of the writer's (and editor's) job to decide what's important to include and not include. Names of classmates of the President's grandparents who never play any further part in the story don't add flavor or interest or information and could easily have been deleted, making the book much more readable. That being said, there's a lot of interesting, new information here that adds a lot to our understanding of the President. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 1/14/2014

    " Interesting to read in the light of Dreams from My Father being a memoir, this a historical account. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nick | 1/10/2014

    " His really has been an improbable life, although this book doesn't offer much new information. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy | 11/26/2013

    " Listened to this on a cross-country drive. Excellent, revealing, mostly riveting memoir about Barack Obama, beginning with his grandparents on either side and ending when he leaves Chicago to go to law school. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cynthia | 11/15/2013

    " Like A Singular Woman, this book was very detailed. I didn't enjoy it quite as much, though there were some new details. Don't misunderstand, however, I liked it a lot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephen | 10/5/2013

    " This is a well researched look into Obama's formative years. If you have not read Dreams From My Father, I would suggest reading that before this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carolyn | 8/7/2013

    " A huge book that covers it all! No one could possibly think Obama is a communist or a socialist if they read this book! Like King David that was brought in from the fields to be the chosen King of Israel this man had divine help to get where he is today. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean | 5/27/2013

    " Excellent. More a story of his family background which is interesting stuff. All those people we thought were muslims turned out to be Seventh Day Adventists. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joseph | 4/16/2013

    " Very slow read and somewhat boring. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marti | 2/6/2013

    " Good writer. Intriguing subject. One of our most interesting presidents ever. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 12/4/2012

    " Some interesting insights into the President's beginnings. But ... too many details that would be more interesting about Thomas Jefferson. Thinking history needs more time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janet | 6/24/2012

    " Well researched and interesting- I cannot put this book down!! "

About the Author

David Maraniss is on the national staff at the Washington Post. His articles on presidential candidate Bill Clinton won him the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 1993. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife, Linda. They have two grown children.