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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (971 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David Remnick Narrator: Mark Deakins Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9780307734372
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No story has been more central to America’s history this century than the rise of Barack Obama, and until now, no journalist or historian has written a book that fully investigates the circumstances and experiences of Obama’s life or explores the ambition behind his rise. Those familiar with Obama’s own best-selling memoir or his campaign speeches know the touchstones and details that he chooses to emphasize, but now—from a writer whose gift for illuminating the historical significance of unfolding events is without peer—we have a portrait, at once masterly and fresh, nuanced and unexpected, of a young man in search of himself, and of a rising politician determined to become the first African-American president.

The Bridge offers the most complete account yet of Obama’s tragic father, a brilliant economist who abandoned his family and ended his life as a beaten man; of his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who had a child as a teenager and then built her career as an anthropologist living and studying in Indonesia; and of the succession of elite institutions that first exposed Obama to the social tensions and intellectual currents that would force him to imagine and fashion an identity for himself. Through extensive on-the-record interviews with friends and teachers, mentors and disparagers, family members and Obama himself, David Remnick allows us to see how a rootless, unaccomplished, and confused young man created himself first as a community organizer in Chicago, an experience that would not only shape his urge to work in politics but give him a home and a community, and that would propel him to Harvard Law School, where his sense of a greater mission emerged.

Deftly setting Obama’s political career against the galvanizing intersection of race and politics in Chicago’s history, Remnick shows us how that city’s complex racial legacy would make Obama’s forays into politics a source of controversy and bare-knuckle tactics: his clashes with older black politicians in the Illinois State Senate, his disastrous decision to challenge the former Black Panther Bobby Rush for Congress in 2000, the sex scandals that would decimate his more experienced opponents in the 2004 Senate race, and the story—from both sides—of his confrontation with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. By looking at Obama’s political rise through the prism of our racial history, Remnick gives us the conflicting agendas of black politicians: the dilemmas of men like Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, and Joseph Lowery, heroes of the civil rights movement, who are forced to reassess old loyalties and understand the priorities of a new generation of African-American leaders.

The Bridge revisits the American drama of race, from slavery to civil rights, and makes clear how Obama’s quest is not just his own but is emblematic of a nation where destiny is defined by individuals keen to imagine a future that is different from the reality of their current lives.


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Quotes & Awards

  • If you care about American politics, you have to read The Bridge. Salon
  • Writing with emotional precision and a sure knowledge of politics, Mr. Remnick situates Mr. Obama’s career firmly within a historical context. Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
  • A brilliantly constructed, flawlessly written biography. Douglas Brinkley, The Los Angeles Times
     
  • Exhaustively researched…Remnick has many important additions and corrections to make to our reading of “Dreams From My Father”…The book’s insights into Obama’s character will be very useful for understanding the man’s performance as president. Garry Wills, The New York Times Book Review
  • An expansive work…Recounting a pivotal March 2007 speech in Selma, Remnick writes that Obama’s words were ‘at once personal, tribal, national and universal.’ The same can be said of The Bridge. Time
  • Remnick deserves credit for telling Obama’s story more completely than others, for lending a reporter’s zeal to the task, for not ducking the discussion of race and for peeling back several layers of the onion that is Barack Obama. The Washington Post 
  • What Remnick brings to a complex story are the tools of an exceptional reporter: persistence, curiosity, insight. He weaves in hours of on-the-record interviews with schoolmates, teachers, mentors, advisers and scholars…rich in reflections and refractions. Bloomberg.com
  • Superb. Beautifully written and artfully constructed. The Economist
  • Eminently readable…the great achievement of the book is that Remnick manages to say something different…Remnick himself is a bridge—to seeing fresh a man we think we know but only now, in his hard days in the White House, are beginning to understand. The Boston Globe
  • An insightful, nuanced look at the making of the 44ths president, placing his career in the context of history. Chicago Tribune
  • There are a few people of such skill that envy gives way to admiration, and one is left feeling not hostility but respect. Remnick is one of those exceptional practitioners…Remnick's biography depends not on nuggets but on his characteristically dispassionate, richly observed assessment of his subject. Without sermonizing or sentimentalizing, Remnick sheds light on the complicated role of race in Obama's rise and victory and, perhaps most relevantly, in the conduct of his presidency. Jonathan Meacham, Newsweek
  • Ambitious and well executed…It’s fair and high-minded, sensitive but dispassionate, admiring but never fawning…It’s this mix of intellect, fact, and feeling that distinguish Remnick’s assessment of Obama’s victory. Time Out New York

    “His work will serve as a building block for all future works on Obama…lovely and assured.
  • "What Remnick brings to a complex story are the tools of an exceptional reporter: persistence, curiosity, insight. He weaves in hours of on-the-record interviews with schoolmates, teachers, mentors, advisers and scholars…rich in reflections and refractions. Bloomberg.com
  • Superb. Beautifully written and artfully constructed. The Economist
  • "Eminently readable…the great achievement of the book is that Remnick manages to say something different…Remnick himself is a bridge—to seeing fresh a man we think we know but only now, in his hard days in the White House, are beginning to understand. The Boston Globe
  • An insightful, nuanced look at the making of the 44ths president, placing his career in the context of history. Chicago Tribune
  • Energetic…offers shrewd insights…Some of the best pages in the book are [Remnick’s] sustained reappraisal of Obama’s memoir. The New York Review
  • "No other book to date is better at revealing the roots and personality of Barack Obama. Remnick has set a lofty bar for future biographers. Library Journal
  • "A world-ranging, eye-opening, comprehensive life to date of the 44th President. Kirkus
  • A lively and enjoyable biography that is likely to remain definitive…Remnick should already be planning a sequel. Washington Monthly
  • “Remnick’s views have the capacity to jolt…like his subject, Remnick wields a skilful and nuanced pen. None, except those who (somewhat unsubtly) want to ‘take America back’, could fail to be moved. The Financial Times
  • “Has many important additions and corrections to make to our reading of Dreams from My Father. New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of 2010
     
  • A balanced, highly readable and well-researched account. Financial Times non-fiction favorites of 2010
  • Beautifully written, artfully constructed and full of new detail about the president. The Economist
  • A truly masterful account. The Daily Beast
  • “Writing with emotional precision and a sure knowledge of politics, Mr. Remnick situates Mr. Obama’s career firmly within a historical context.”

    New York Times 

  • “Brilliantly constructed, flawlessly written…A near-definitive study of Obama.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “If you care about American politics, you have to read The Bridge.”

    Salon

  • “There are a few people of such skill that envy gives way to admiration, and one is left feeling not hostility but respect. Remnick is one of those exceptional practitioners.”

    Newsweek

  • “His work will serve as a building block for all future works on Obama…Lovely and assured.” 

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “An insightful, nuanced look at the making of the forty-forth president, placing his career in the context of history.” 

    Chicago Tribune

  • “The book’s insights into Obama’s character will be very useful for understanding the man's performance as president.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Engaging…Sparkling.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “An expansive work.”

    Time

  • “Remnick deserves credit for telling Obama’s story more completely than others, for lending a reporter’s zeal to the task, for not ducking the discussion of race, and for peeling back several layers of the onion that is Barack Obama.” 

    Washington Post

  • “[Remnick] manages to mine this young president’s familiar story…and find new insights.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “What Remnick brings to a complex story are the tools of an exceptional reporter: persistence, curiosity, insight…Rich in reflections and refractions.”

    Bloomberg

  • “Insightful, [a] valuable book…Remnick places Obama’s story squarely in the framework of America’s civil rights struggle.”

    New Statesman

  • “Compelling…A living metaphor for an increasingly diverse America…Remnick is one of the finest journalists in America and has delivered a thorough, well-crafted early entry in what is sure to be a long list of Obama biographies.”

    St. Petersburg Times

  • “Absorbing and seminal…Remnick is the most gifted and versatile journalist in America…The Bridge is the first truly great biography of the man in all his promise and complexities.”

    San Antonio Express-News

  • “Masterful, absorbing…A splendid synthesis, an argument for [Remnick’s] reporting gifts…For those interested in race as a social construct, The Bridge is essential reading.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Superb…Remnick is a master blender of history, reporting, and narrative.”

    Seattle Times

  • “The book’s strengths should appeal to readers of all political stripes: a real depth of reporting and the elegant grace of Remnick’s literary style…The reader is left with a nuanced account of our president’s self-crafted development.” 

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

  • “A lively and enjoyable biography that is likely to remain definitive…Remnick should already be planning a sequel.”

    Washington Monthly

  • “Narrator Mark Deakins delivers an excellent performance, especially in his re-creation of key speeches. From his timing to his timbre, he sounds just like the president.”

    Library Journal (audio review)

  • “Eye-opening…Remnick’s fluent writing makes this expansive, significant book move along swiftly.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • One of the 2010 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ray Daniel | 2/19/2014

    " I recommend this book without reservation. It is, surprisingly, a page turner and it gives rounded insight into Obama and his place in the history of racial progress in the US. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Glenn Hyman | 2/14/2014

    " Remnick is a brilliant writer. Editor at New Yorker. I read the Vintage Books edition, copyright 2011. It has a new epilogue, which is not really a reason to get this edition. The book shows how so much of the American story is about race - especially politcs. I read this book quickly and found it to be a page turners. He is now perfectly tee-ed up to write the next big book about Obama. But will Obama win in 2012? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katharine Watt | 2/6/2014

    " This is an absolutely must-read, for anyone interested in the people, cultures, and life events that shaped Barack Obama and led him to become the compelling candidae that won the U.S. presidency in 2008. David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, has done a masterful job of researching exhaustively and weaving together the strands of Obama's like to provide a fascinating and evenhanded picture that is the first character study (more than a bio) of this relatively young man. Before, we heard from Obama on Obama (his two books: Dreams from my Father and The Audacity of Hope--both wonderful, but not dispassionate). The Bridge belongs on every political and history lover's book shelf. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anita Dawson | 2/5/2014

    " This is the first novel that I have read that explained the depth of the decisions that were made during the rise of Barack Obama. The events were extremely detailed that it was obvious that the author researched the topic. This account brings another perspective to why President Obama decided to run for office and the challenges that he faced while on the campaign trail. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annie | 1/31/2014

    " Quite engaging and well-written. Gave me a better understanding of the character of America's first black president. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ellie Revert | 1/31/2014

    " Too much of a textbook for me---and besides, his life has been so tough in the time he's been in office that it breaks my heart. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 1/29/2014

    " Pretty thorough account of Barack Obama's life from his family's history up through his election as President. I knew the basic contours of his life story, but this filled in many more details. I found myself losing steam as I got more into the contemporary parts about his political career, probably because I was more familiar with that to start with. Still, worth reading. Fairly quick read for a 600 page book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jill Mader | 1/22/2014

    " I haven't read either of Barack Obama's books, but I was very interested in learning more about him. Although the book is long, and at times the deep history of African American history and the figures who influenced Obama feels like a digression, the book is a fascinating look at how the current American president came to be. "

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

    " "Why are you reading that?" someone asked. I started because of the reviews I read but Remnick's thoughtful biography of Barack Obama soon captured my attention for the several days it took me to read it. Remnick tries to be objective and analytical, which makes for an interesting analysis of who our current President is and the people and circumstances that have shaped his character and views. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margaret | 1/11/2014

    " An honest and forthright look into the making of a man. Really Really like the book "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ronan | 12/17/2013

    " Excellent biography of Obama, but focuses far too much on his early days - which most of us will have read in Obama's own books. I would have liked more on the election and on the Democratic primaries. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Daniel | 12/8/2013

    " Very respectable life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pat Carey | 2/15/2013

    " Not quite as interesting as I expected and overall unfailingly positive about the President/the campaign, but there were a couple of good tidbits here and there. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynne | 10/24/2012

    " Fantastic biography of Barack Obama. Author David Remnick came to Philadelphia and I went to hear him read/talk about the book, which was well worth it. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read a balanced and honest [not all flattering] portrait of the President. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Neal | 5/13/2012

    " A good, fairly even-handed Obama biography. I give it three stars because it was informative, well-written and well-researched. I can't give it more because the author's attempts to place Obama's life in the context of the civil rights movement fall somewhat flat. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grant | 5/10/2012

    " A good read and a well-balanced look at the President in the context of the history of race in the US - the issue that won't go away and of course has nothing to do with our first African-American President (sorry for the sarcasm.) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 4/23/2012

    " If I could recommend only one book about Barack Obama this would be it. I listened to it from Audible.com and plan to listen to it a second time. Full of good information. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Frank | 4/1/2012

    " An incredibly well-researched and well-written account of the life our 44th president, one that links Obama to the civil rights movement and to the larger story of African America. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Liz Kristensen | 2/7/2012

    " What can I say? I love the guy! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rod | 6/18/2011

    " A tremendous book by Remnick. I hope he can become the next David Halberstram. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kayme | 6/11/2011

    " I am high school student and I have to say..... Tons of challenging words but a great book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Priscilla | 6/7/2011

    " Beautifully written. Couldn't put it down. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joel | 5/3/2011

    " David Remnick's brilliant biography of Barack Obama. Just as he did with Muhammad Ali in King of the World, Remnick places Obama in the context of his times, building on the lives and legacies of his parents and grandparents to explain how Obama became Obama. A fantastic read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margaret | 3/25/2011

    " An honest and forthright look into the making of a man. Really Really like the book "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 3/8/2011

    " A truly excellent book. Readable, thoroughly interesting, and wonderfully informative. If you want to understand a good slice of the last 50 years, read this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynne | 2/19/2011

    " Fantastic biography of Barack Obama. Author David Remnick came to Philadelphia and I went to hear him read/talk about the book, which was well worth it. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read a balanced and honest [not all flattering] portrait of the President. "

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About the Author
Author David Remnick

David Remnick is the editor of the New Yorker. He began his career as a sportswriter for the Washington Post and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for Lenin’s Tomb. He is also the author of Resurrection and The Devil Problem and Other True Stories, a collection of essays. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

About the Narrator

Mark Deakins is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator and actor whose television appearances include Head Case, Star Trek: Voyager, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. His film credits include Intervention, Star Trek: Insurrection, and The Devil’s Advocate. He wrote, directed, and produced the short film The Smith Interviews.