Fix Pick: Maraniss' Masterpiece On Obama's Rise
In less than 36 hours, President-elect Barack Obama will be sworn in on the West Front of the Capitol as the 44th president of the United States.
Until then, we wait. (An inauguration secret: the day before is, well, sort of boring.)
Luckily, the Post commissioned David Maraniss -- yes, that David Maraniss -- to pen a sweeping narrative of the improbable rise of Obama to the highest elected office in the country.
No one -- and we mean NO ONE -- does these big picture pieces as well as Maraniss, and this one is no exception, as he weaves little known details of Obama's life with historical detail (who knew so much happened in the civil rights fight on the day Obama was born?) that presents the man meeting the moment.
"There is improbability in the making of any president, some more than others, none comparable to Obama," writes Maraniss at the opening of the story before detailing the lives of the women and man in El Dorado (that el-duh-RAY-dough if you were wondering) who became the next president's mother and grandparents.
Maraniss, as only he can, describes Obama's nomadic existence during his college and post college years -- stops in Los Angeles, New York, Boston and finally Chicago -- as a "modern-day version of the classical odyssey, leaving home for a long journey in search of home."
And, finally, Maraniss details the combination of luck and will power that led Obama to be elected to the Illinois state Senate in 1996, the U.S. Senate eight years later and the White House in 2008.
"The essence of Barack Obama has been his capacity to avert life's roadblocks and disappointments during his journey. The first could have been his unusual family biography, with the challenges it presented in terms of stability and psychology. The second could have been the sociology of race in America, with its likelihood of rejection and cynicism. And the final was the geography of elective politics, with all the variables of ideology and luck. In each case, Obama kept moving, finding his way around dead ends, avoiding the traps."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves -- literally.
Maraniss' story is a terrific piece that frames the historicity of tomorrow's events and should be considered must-read material for any true political junkie.
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