A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother

Front Cover
Penguin, May 3, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 400 pages
From the author of The Beneficiary: Fortune, Misfortune and the Story of My Father comes a major publishing event: an unprecedented look into the life of the woman who most singularly shaped Barack Obama-his mother.  

Barack Obama has written extensively about his father, but little is known about Stanley Ann Dunham, the fiercely independent woman who raised him, the person he credits for, as he says, "what is best in me." Here is the missing piece of the story.

Award-winning reporter Janny Scott interviewed nearly two hundred of Dunham's friends, colleagues, and relatives (including both her children), and combed through boxes of personal and professional papers, letters to friends, and photo albums, to uncover the full breadth of this woman's inspiring and untraditional life, and to show the remarkable extent to which she shaped the man Obama is today.

Dunham's story moves from Kansas and Washington state to Hawaii and Indonesia. It begins in a time when interracial marriage was still a felony in much of the United States, and culminates in the present, with her son as our president- something she never got to see. It is a poignant look at how character is passed from parent to child, and offers insight into how Obama's destiny was created early, by his mother's extraordinary faith in his gifts, and by her unconventional mothering. Finally, it is a heartbreaking story of a woman who died at age fifty-two, before her son would go on to his greatest accomplishments and reflections of what she taught him.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Tod_Christianson - LibraryThing

I was watching President Obama give a speech on television and it dawned on me that I didn't really know anything about his parents and that he was young enough that they should still be around. A ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - juniperSun - LibraryThing

Scott was so careful not to make any statements about her subject. Consequently most of the text is either impersonal facts about towns, organizations, etc. or "X said...", "according to Y...", and ... Read full review


One Dreams from the Prairie
Two Coming of Age in Seattle
Three EastWest
Four Initiation in Java
Five Trespassers Will Be Eaten
Six In the Field
Seven Community Organizing
Eight The Foundation
Nine Surviving and Thriving Against All Odds
Ten Manhattan Chill
Eleven Coming Home

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Janny Scott was a reporter for The New York Times from 1994 to 2009, when she left to write this book. She was a member of the Times reporting team that won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.

Bibliographic information