Book Review - Renegade - The Making of Barack Obama

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The American presidential election that witnessed the spectacular rise to power of Barack Obama had all the makings of a blockbuster. Richard Wolffe, British journalist and political analyst for MSNBC who covered the presidential campaign for Newsweek had exceptional access to Obama. Renegade – Obama’s Secret Service code name – is the product of Wolffe’s days on the campaign trail.

If you thought that everything about those heady days has been done to death, Renegade will surprise you.  The book offers extraordinary insights about Obama’s work and perseverance and the challenges he faced. There are little known details about the difficulties he endured and the emotional battles that were part of his life when he left the comfort of his family and his career as a community organiser – something that he truly enjoyed – to take on the world of politics.

Apart from the several months Wolffe spent with Obama, he also interviewed many people to get a three-dimensional view.  From the Democratic nomination contest to the Presidential inaugural ceremony, Wolffe followed the action all the way through as the young and persistent Obama fought the election against war veteran John McCain.

Since Wolffe too is of mixed parentage – an English father and a Moroccan mother, he could identify with Obama’s “unusual” identity that was scrutinised all through the campaign. The author also shared with Obama, his love for basketball, a sport that is very much a part of the President’s identity.

Renegade charts Obama’s personal life, from his childhood with his stepfather and mother in Indonesia, and then later, his return to Hawaii, where he lived with his grandmother. There are accounts of his college days, his early working life and how he met his wife, Michelle. Renegade also contains sketches of Obama’s team and the many people who helped him in his storybook rise to fame.

While the biographical aspect of Renegade is inspiring, and highly motivational, it also offers a fascinating ringside view into the American political system.

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