A Free Spirit

A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother.

  1. To write a biography without mentioning the subject’s name in the title is unusual, just as irregular, in fact, as publishing a serious work of anthropology, entitled Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia, with a portrait of the author splashed on the cover.* But then the author of that academic book, the late Stanley Ann Dunham, an expert on the economics of Indonesian crafts, bore a startling resemblance to President Obama—the same long chin, the slight quizzical tilt of the head, the prominent eyebrows. Which is not surprising, since she was his mother. The scholarly book based on her Ph.D. thesis, which contains much excellent firsthand description of life in remote Javanese villages, is of great interest to specialists, and would probably have been picked up by a university press anyway. The biography, on the other hand, might never have been written were it not for the career of Dr. S. Ann Dunham’s son.

    President Obama’s mother was born in 1942 in Wichita, Ka...

The complete text of “A Free Spirit” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on www.nybooks.com.

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