- Michelle Obama
- Barack Obama
- Peter Slevin
- Chicago Tribune Newspaper
- Vintage Books
- Northwestern University
- Penguin Random House
- Valerie Jarrett
- Finding My Voice
- Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
- Apostolic Church of God
- Mayor Harold Washington
- Mayor Richard M. Daley
- Harvard Law School
- Princeton University
- Rainbow Beach
Michelle Obama: A Life, by Peter Slevin (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 2015, 418 pages).
Book Review by Dennis Moore
“A deeply informed portrait of the first lady and her native Chicago…. Her larger story, told so powerfully in Slevin’s biography, which suggests she will forever be a force with which to be reckoned.” – Chicago Tribune
March 11, 2019 (San Diego) - Peter Slevin, who has written extensively about Barack and Michelle Obama, from his vantage point of being on the staff of The Washington Post, before joining Northwestern University’s School of Journalism, where he is currently an associate professor, has written a uniquely American story of a woman from the Southside of Chicago that changed the course of prior inhabitants of the White House; Michelle Obama: A Life.
Coming at a time right after Black History Month, this is the inspiring story of Michelle Obama, a modern American icon. Michelle Obama is actually the personification of what Black History Month is all about. The first book to weave together Michelle’s remarkable life and times. Peter Slevin’s biography of the first lady unfurls with disciplined reporting and a storyteller’s eye for detail. Slevin follows Michelle to the White House from her working-class childhood on Chicago’s largely segregated South Side. He illuminates her tribulations at Princeton University and Harvard Law School during the racially charged 1980s and the dilemmas she faced in Chicago while building a high-powered career, raising a family, and helping a young community organizer named Barack Obama become president of the United States.
From the lessons she learned in Chicago to the messages she shares as one of the most recognizable women in the world, the story of this first lady is the story of America. Michelle Obama: A Life is a fresh and compelling view of a woman of unique achievement and purpose.
This book by Slevin gives us a rare insight into a woman that comes from humble beginnings, to become a fixture in American politics that transcends all that we have previously known about those described as the “First Lady” of the United States.
Slevin weaves a powerful and moving story of Michelle Obama, and makes it clear that it was her that facilitated the rise of Barack Obama being the first black president of the United States, as unlikely as it might have seemed. If ever there was a truism in “Behind every good man is a strong woman”, it certainly applies in Michelle Obama: A Life.
The author traces the life of Michelle Obama and her ancestors through their migration from various parts of the south, such as South Carolina, to the promise of a better life in Chicago. Slevin explores the many generations of the “Robinson” family, which would later evolve into the “Obama” family, and ultimately residents of the White House.
The irony of this book, is the fact that this writer actually worked in the same “Daley” administration in Chicago at the very same time that Michelle Obama did, and knew of and traveled in similar circles in Chicago as she did, such as “Rainbow Beach” and the “Apostolic Church of God” mentioned in Slevin’s well researched and documented book. When he writes of White House advisor Valerie Jarrett or Mayor Harold Washington, this writer recalls fond memories and encounters with.
Having walked down the same hallways at City Hall as Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett did countless times, while in the employment of the “Daley” administration, this insightful book by Slevin resonates with me in so many profound ways.
Slevin points out in Michelle Obama: A Life, that it was actually Valerie Jarrett that offered Michelle Obama a job in the mayor’s office on the spot, after being referred to her by Susan Sher, a senior attorney for Mayor Richard M. Daley, elected two year’s earlier to his father’s old job.
It is ironic that Valerie Jarrett is scheduled to discuss her new memoir; Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward at the Los Angeles Times 24th annual Festival of Books at USC to be held on April 13 and 14, 2019. Perhaps Jarrett will share additional insight into this remarkable woman, Michelle Obama. I, for one, plan to attend this event!
Dennis Moore has been the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine. He is also the author of a book about Chicago politics. Mr. Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.