A new book about Michelle Obama reveals little-known details about the first lady and more fully outlines how her relationship with her husband shaped both their lives.
In “Michelle Obama: A Life,” Peter Slevin portrays the first lady as a full partner in her husband’s political career.
When she was in her late 20s and he in his early 30s, they began making important decisions together, selecting the next steps on their career paths. Slevin, a former Washington Post writer, notes that before they married and after Barack completed Harvard Law School, he moved in with Michelle, while her mother lived downstairs. They soon married, which was important to Michelle.
The 346-page book is filled with history and context, including where Michelle Obama’s parents and grandparents fit within Chicago’s social structure. Slevin’s telling includes little about machinations within the White House.
It does have a few moments that may ruffle Michelle Obama, who closely guards the privacy of her mother and daughters. Slevin resurfaces a 2004 public television interview with Marian Robinson. . Asked how she felt about Obama’s biracial background, Robinson said with a laugh: “That didn’t concern me as much as had he been completely white. ... I guess that I worry about races mixing because of the difficulty – not for, so much for prejudice or anything. It’s just very hard.” Slevin notes that the concerns didn’t cause her to oppose the marriage.
The book largely depicts Michelle Obama in a favorable light while looking closely at the role race played in shaping her worldview, particularly at Princeton and Harvard Law.
The White House granted Slevin little access, but he began reporting on the future first lady eight years ago as the Post’s Chicago bureau chief. For the book, he interviewed Michelle Obama’s mentors, staff members, former colleagues and relatives.
Michelle Obama: A Life
Knopf, 432 pages