New Yorker editor and best-selling author David Remnick has written a biography of Barack Obama that will be published on April 6th, it was announced today by Sonny Mehta, Chairman of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama is a sweeping and deeply reported look at both the life of the 44th President and the complex saga of race in America that led to his historic election.
Remnick won the Pulitzer Prize for his book Lenin’s Tomb, about the collapse of the Soviet Union, and he is also the author of King of the World, a best-selling work on the evolution of Cassius Clay into Muhammad Ali in the midst of the civil-rights movement.
For this new book, Remnick conducted hundreds of on-the-record interviews to write the fullest narrative possible of a sitting President. He relies on conversations with family, friends, teachers, professors, mentors, donors, and rivals of Barack Obama—as well as with the President himself. His sources include not only members of Obama’s team, but also more complicated figures in his story such as the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Bobby Rush, Jesse Jackson, and Bill Ayers. The Bridge also includes correspondence by Obama as well as letters written by the most important influence in his life, his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, all published here for the first time.
“Obama’s election as President was based less on policy prescriptions than on a sense of his character and biography,” Mehta said. “The Bridge reveals not only his character, but also his trials, motivations, and perspectives in a way that a memoir, even a remarkable one, cannot.”
In the Prologue to The Bridge, Obama, who has just announced his candidacy, goes to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, to pay homage to the civil-rights generation, the “Moses generation,” and declares himself the leader of the new generation, the “Joshua generation.” How a young African-American politician, barely out of the Illinois state legislature, came to such a point is a remarkable American story.
The Bridge charts an American life without precedent, a confused, biracial young man from Hawaii and Indonesia who not only had to forge a racial identity, but also had to forge a political identity in one of the most volatile and unforgiving political arenas in the country—the South Side of Chicago. It follows Obama’s political evolution, his encounters with liberals, radicals, nationalists, and members of the Daley machine, and it tells of the historical figures, incidents, and influences that helped to shape him.
The Bridge provides a nuanced historical portrait of a President whose first moments in office marked a radical break with the American story. Reflecting on the President’s unique place in history, the veteran congressman and civil-rights leader John Lewis told Remnick, “Barack Obama is what comes at the end of that bridge in Selma.”
(Photo credit: Magazine Publishers of America)