Robert Caro, who is a considerable historian, has so far devoted four monumental volumes to the life and times of Lyndon Baines Johnson and has still not finished with him. David Maraniss, who writes far better than most journalists, does not introduce Barack Obama until the sixth chapter of his book and leaves the future president after 641 pages when he is just twenty-seven and off to law school at Harvard. If he wants to emulate Caro, the exercise might be well worthwhile, at least on the basis of this first foray.
Deconstructing Obama, indisputably a complex man, is becoming something of a national pastime. Many of the books he has inspired are trashy polemics, appealing only to those who loathe the forty-fourth president (who, let’s face it, has not even completed his first four-year term and, conceivably, might not get another).