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Barack and Michelle

Barack and Michelle
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"She is my rock—the one person who keeps it real." —Barack

"I don't want anybody to think that it's easy. . . . We have a strong marriage, but it's not perfect." —Michelle

They exploded onto the world scene and within a matter of a few short years captured the ultimate political prize. In so doing, they became a First Couple like no other: He—the biracial son of a free-spirited Kansas-born woman and a mercurial Kenyan father who abandoned him at an early age—was raised in Hawaii and Indonesia, educated at Columbia and Harvard, and launched his political career in America's heartland. She, by contrast, was the product of a solidly middle-American family with roots planted firmly in Chicago's working-class South Side—paving the way for her to achieve her dreams of an Ivy League education and a position at one of the nation's top law firms.

By the time they claimed the White House in one of the most hotly contested presidential races in modern history, Barack and Michelle Obama were seen by millions around the world as the new Jack and Jackie Kennedy—brilliant, attractive, elegant, youthful, exciting. Accompanied by their two young daughters, Malia and Sasha, the Obamas would arrive at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with the promise of a new Camelot all but assured.

Given the obvious historic significance of what they have accomplished together, the marriage of Barack and Michelle stands as one of the great personal and political partnerships in American history. Yet, incredibly, the true nature of that relationship has remained a mystery. Until now.

In the style of his No. 1 New York Times bestsellers The Day Diana Died and The Day John Died, as well as his bestselling books about the Kennedys, the Clintons, and the Bushes, author Christopher Andersen draws on important sources—some speaking here for the first time—to paint the first complete, compelling portrait of America's first black First Family.

Among the many intriguing insights and stunning revelations:

  • New behind-the-scenes details of the Obamas' courtship and marriage—and the lovers who went before.
  • The early tragedies that shaped both Barack's and Michelle's personalities, and how those events haunt them to this day. Also, new information about Barack's rootless childhood, at times tortured adolescence, and the true extent of his early drug use.
  • How Barack's ambition put a strain on their relationship from the very beginning, how close the Obamas really came to breaking up, and how Michelle made the difficult decision that saved their marriage.
  • The little-known near-tragedy that brought Barack and Michelle closer than they had ever been.
  • How Michelle may have saved her husband's presidential campaign, and her surprising behind-the-scenes role as the president's chief advisor.
  • The pressures and delights of raising two young girls in the relentless glare of the media, and how, like Jack and Jackie Kennedy before them, Barack and Michelle strive to make the lives of America's two most famous children as "normal" as possible.

Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage is an intimate and ultimately riveting look at their unique partnership, and the humor, faith, fortitude, and grace that defines it. It is, above all, an extraordinary American love story.

HarperCollins; September 2009
336 pages; ISBN 9780061937538
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