David J. Garrow’s door-stopper of a biography contains a cascade of details that, our critic says, “never connect to form an illuminating portrait.” - From https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/01/books/review-rising-star-making-of-barack-obama-david-garrow.html?action=click&contentCollection=books&module=NextInCollection®ion=Footer&pgtype=article&version=column&rref=collection/column/books-of-the-times&_r=0
The problem is that all these data points never connect to form an illuminating portrait; the book does not open out to become the sort of resonant narrative that Robert A.
Instead, Garrow has expended a huge amount of energy — his bibliography, including interviews with more than a thousand people, runs to 35 pages — on giving us minutely detailed accounts of early chapters of Obama’s life, like his years at Harvard Law School, his time in Chicago as a community organizer, and his work in the Illinois State Senate.
The entire first chapter of the book is devoted to examining the social and political landscape of Chicago’s South Side in the early 1980s before Obama arrived to work there, but Obama’s 2008 campaign and two terms in the White House are compressed into a 50-odd-page epilogue.
Whereas the rest of the book is written in dry, largely uninflected prose, the epilogue — which almost reads like a Republican attack ad — devolves into a condescending diatribe unworthy of a serious historian.
It’s telling, after all, that Garrow mischaracterizes the reception that both Maraniss’s biography and David Remnick’s incisive book “The Bridge” received, suggesting that both volumes failed to get the accolades they did, in fact, receive.