Mama Obama

Here’s one reason to wish your child doesn’t grow up to be president: Your private (and sex) life may be examined in microscopic-level detail. So it is in Janny Scott’s biography of Stanley Ann Dunham, the mother of President Barack Obama—but a worthy biographical subject on her own. A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother follows her life from small-town Kansas to Indonesia, where she became an expert in international development. Along the way, she married twice, earned a doctorate, raised two children and lived in the bush. Obama also offers insightful comments about his mother, who carved out a unique career but was also away for long stretches. Readers may find themselves skipping some of the detail, but it is still a fascinating book about Dunham, Indonesia, international aid and the unusually diverse and intriguing childhood—and mama—of Obama.