Remnick's Obama Bio Focuses on Race

The development of Barack Obama’s identity was a slow, gradual one, according David Remnick’s new biography, The Bridge. And from law school to Chicago to the White House, Remnick suggests, it grew out of a deep-seated understanding of the civil-rights movement. “For Obama,” he writes, “the black freedom struggle defines not just the African-American experience, but the American experience itself.” The book’s title itself is a reference to a bridge in Selma, Alabama, where a 1965 confrontation between police and protesters paved the way for the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Filled with new insights, the book also paints Obama “as cool, charismatic, slightly detached: an autodidact with a lawyer’s analytical intelligence and a novelist’s empathetic temperament,” according to the Times’ Michiko Kakutani, “an idealist who is also a pragmatist; a politician inclined to be methodical and cautious in his decision making.”