Rezensionen zur Biografie: Rising Star. The Making of Barack Obama, von David J. Garrow (2017) – mit Video

Die Hardcover-Ausgabe dieser Barack-Obama-Biografie hat 1460 Seiten und basiert auf Gesprächen mit über 1000 Informanten.

Deutsche Kommentare:


Reizvoll ist das Buch aber in Wahrheit deshalb, weil es mal eine kritische Erzählung von Obamas Aufstieg vorlegt und den Ex-Präsidenten weniger als netten Graswurzelaktivisten porträtiert, der sich von Geburt an dem Gemeinwohl verpflichtet sah, denn als berechnenden Karrieristen, der nur auf sei Fortkommen bedacht war… Garrows Schilderungen von Obamas Super-Ego mögen stellenweise überzeichnet und die Details ein wenig arg schmutzig sein, und es ist kaum überraschend, dass das Buch auf seinen 1460 Seiten gewaltige Längen hat…

Jan Bösche (ARD):

Nein, es ist kein Skandal- und Sexbuch. Es geht dem Autoren weniger um die Frauengeschichten – das merkt man auch, wenn man ihm in verschiedenen Gesprächen zuhört, wenn er sich über sein Buch äußert… Nein, hier geht es einem Autoren darum, zu erklären, wie Präsident Obama „entstanden“ ist, was seine Ambitionen waren, was seine Ziele waren, wie er das geworden ist, was wir am Ende von ihm kennen… Kritiker sagen: zu intensiv; das Buch sei zu dick, zu voluminös. Es wird zum Beispiel jahresweise erklärt, was Obama im Senat in Illinois gesetzgebungstechnisch so getrieben hat, Details, die viel zu intensiv sind, sagen Kritiker.


Je näher die Präsidentschaft von Donald Trump rückte, desto mehr wurde Barack Obama ein Heiligenstatus zugeschrieben. Das Buch „Rising Star: The making of Barack Obama“ von David J. Garrow ist nun der Versuch, auf über 1400 Seiten diesen Nimbus zu zerstören. Es zeichnet das Bild eines einst jungen Mannes, der vom engagierten und selbstlosen Studenten zum zielorientierten Karrieremenschen mutierte

Englische Kritiken:

Michiko Kakutani in der NYT:

 A bloated, tedious and — given its highly intemperate epilogue — ill-considered book that is in desperate need of editing, and way more exhausting than exhaustive… Garrow has turned up little that’s substantially new — save for identifying and interviewing an old girlfriend… In the absence of thoughtful analysis or a powerful narrative through line, Garrow’s book settles for barraging the reader with a cascade of details… Obama’s 2008 campaign and two terms in the White House are compressed into a 50-odd-page epilogue… the epilogue — which almost reads like a Republican attack ad — devolves into a condescending diatribe unworthy of a serious historian… overstuffed and ultimately unfair

NYT 2:

… impressive if gratuitously snarly… Garrow credits Maraniss’s reporting, while diminishing it to enhance the importance of his own… Sex sells. But this deeply reported work of biography could easily have done without it. “Rising Star” seems to include every human being who came within arm’s length of the young president-to-be…. This book is a master class in Chicago politics… We learn in the acknowledgments, on Page 1,084, that Obama read nearly all of “Rising Star” before publication and argued intensely with Garrow about some of the characterizations — but did so in “off the record” conversations about which the reader is left guessing.


…unusually candid disclosures about Obama’s sex life and drug use… Garrow’s narrative cannot resist more references to sex than might be expected in an academic history, nor a chance to belittle rival biographers…

Obama-Biograf David Maraniss per Twitter:

David Garrow, author of new Obama bio, was vile, undercutting, ignoble competitor unlike any I’ve encountered…

The author relies heavily on interviews with a former girlfriend, Sheila Miyoshi Jager, with whom Obama lived in the 1980s, as if that relationship were the key to understanding his personality. Obama’s split from her is framed as a rejection of white women

Kirkus Review:

Sometimes the book feels like too much of a good thing… Garrow calls him “Barack,” familiarly, throughout… the core of this book is eminently solid, a thorough turning over of just about every stone… Too long by half but consistently readable

Publishers Weekly:

…without apparent political bias. Every fact, however small, is documented in the footnotes, which run to hundreds of pages. The result is a convincing and exceptionally detailed portrait… Casual readers may well find the level of detail here overpowering, but political history buffs will be fascinated.

Washington Post:

“Rising Star” is exhaustive, but only occasionally exhausting. Garrow zooms his lens out far… At times Garrow delivers information simply because he has it; I did not need a detailed readout of all of Obama’s course evaluations from his years teaching at the University… Garrow speeds through his presidency in a clunky and tacky epilogue, in which he recaps the growing media disenchantment with Obama and goes out of his way to cite unfavorable reviews of earlier biographies. (Come on, David. Other books can be good.)…


Mr. Garrow, I get it. The man not only survived not one, but two presidential terms without a scandal. So I don’t blame you for trying to go there. But come on, do better and leave Barack and Michelle, a genuinely happy couple, alone because this is weak sauce.

USA Today:

Each page crackles with the strength of his research, and the footnotes groan with great detail… Garrow’s research cries out for a discerning editor. There’s simply too much. Do we really need to know the title of Obama’s English textbook at the Punahou School or the catalog number for his physics course at Columbia? Everything, including Obama’s inability to figure out how to use the mouse for his new Macintosh computer, is here. It didn’t need to be in the story of such a historic figure.


Innumerable new and often fascinating details… unearthed documents from every stage of the president’s life: his undergraduate poetry and his law school exams, an unpublished policy manuscript he co-wrote, his evaluations as a professor at the University of Chicago, his annual tax payments to the IRS, an opposition-research dossier from his 2004 U.S. Senate primary campaign, letters he wrote to his most serious girlfriends and even the diaries they kept of their years with him, including frank (though not lurid) accounts of sex… Garrow’s jabs at his rivals, especially the two other Davids who’ve authored major Obama biographies (Maraniss and Remnick), are unnecessarily sharp, and probably altogether unnecessary. Rising Star quotes from the negative or mixed reviews those writers’ books received and folds in some cutting asides for good measure… More notable than the digs at his competitors are the gratuitous and even petty swipes at Obama himself…

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