Barack and Michelle:
Portrait of an American Marriage
By Christopher Andersen
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: William Morrow
By Katherine Skiba
Chicago Tribune (MCT)
After a microscopic look at several famous marriages, author Christopher Andersen takes his pen-or, some argue, a hatchet-to the Obamas in his latest book, "Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage."
He describes a reluctant groom-to-be, sometimes-stormy union, and woman sick of emptying his overflowing ashtrays-and being shut out by his ambition. He says the crucibles of battling infertility, helping to nurse daughter Sasha to health after meningitis, and coping with early political defeat (and debt), the Obamas survived-and thrived. By the inauguration they were "indisputably the First Couple not only of America but of the world."
On him: "He was the supremely confident overachiever whose fatherless childhood left him deeply scarred emotionally, the product of an exotic multicultural upbringing who yearned for roots and a sense of his own racial identity..."
On her: "dutiful daughter ... corporate lawyer ... wife and mother who despised politicians but outperformed even the most seasoned of them as she helped her husband win the presidency."
The book, relying in part on unnamed sources, serves up plenty of dish from the Obamas' youth, nearly 17-year marriage, and up-and-down journey to the White House.
Andersen says Michelle Obama helped shoot down the prospect of Hillary Clinton being tapped as her husband's running mate. "Do you really want Bill and Hillary just down the hall from you in the White House?" it quotes her as saying.
According to the book, when Obama ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, at first he thought the David Axelrod-designed campaign slogan, "Yes we can," was corny.
But the controversial Jeremiah Wright, then his pastor, and Michelle Obama, liked it.
The book, from publisher William Morrow, went on sale Tuesday for $25.99.
Andersen is famous for writing about the famous-the Kennedys, the Clintons and Diana, Princess of Wales-and he intermingles dirt and stardust. The book's promos herald the Obamas as the new Jack and Jackie Kennedy-"brilliant, attractive, elegant, youthful, exciting."
The Obamas did not cooperate with the book, says its publicist, Camille McDuffie.
The White House had no comment.
(c) 2009, Chicago Tribune.
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