New York Times journalist Jodi Kantor's new book, "The Obamas," purports to reveal the inner workings of the first family's relationship.
But is it ever really possible to get inside someone's marriage -- especially that of the President and First Lady?
Given that Kantor didn't interview the Obamas for her book, (though she says she has previously spoken to both Michelle and Barack about their marriage), it's unclear how much this tell-all will truly reveal (the book hits stores on January 10).
"The Obamas" has already garnered criticism from several corners. David Remnick of The New Yorker wote: "Such books regard more earnest matters like history, context, and ideas the way a child looks at a plate of Brussels sprouts." The Washington Post criticized Kantor for discounting the importance of getting an interview with the Obamas for her book.
White House Press Secretary Eric Schultz called "The Obamas" a reflection of Kantor's "own opinions." And former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel -- who Kantor characterizes as having a strained relationship with the Obamas -- told the Chicago Sun-Times: "I'm very proud to have worked for the president and the first lady, and [my wife] Amy and I are very proud to call them friends."
Although Kantor has come under fire for the book's failure to present the Obamas' perspective, the author did interview more than 30 White House staffers about the first family, and offers up what New York Times book reviewer Connie Schultz calls "gossipy tidbits that fuel a narrative about their marriage and how it has shaped the presidency." She adds: "Ms. Kantor retires wooden stereotypes of the political wife as a prop or a problem and instead explores what it means to be a modern first lady, one with her own opinions and an expectation that she will be heard."
Connie Schultz also says that Kantor is, "a meticulous reporter ... [who] is attuned to the nuance of small gestures, the import of unspoken truths. She knows that every strong marriage, including the one now in the White House, has its complexities and its disappointments."
Kantor reportedly received a seven figure advance for "The Obamas" after a lively auction among publishers in New York City.
The author has defended the book against criticism: "The story I wanted to write was never going to come from the Obamas' lips," Kantor told Chicago Magazine. "In a way, it goes to Barack Obama's own predicament as president: He's such a gifted storyteller. Yet can he really tell his own story anymore?"
So what do you think? Is it really possible to understand someone else's marriage? Let us know in the comments.
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