A new biography about President Obama sheds light on a little-known part of his life — his college and post-college years in Nyc — through the letters and journals of two women he dated at the time. Vanity Fair on Wednesday published an excerpt of ‘Barack Obama: The Story,’ the biography by Washington Post writer David Maraniss next month that Simon & Schuster will publish. (Simon & Schuster Inc. is held by CBS Corporation, the parent organization of CBS News and CBSNews.com.) The book details Mr.Obama’s relationships with Alex McNear and Genevieve Cook, women he dated in his early 20s. Maraniss writes that Mr.Obama ‘receded into the most existentialist stretch of his life’ in New York, which was explained in part by his correspondences with McNear. Mr.Obama achieved McNear at Occidental College and later reconnected with her in New York in the summer of 1982. She came back to California following the summer, and she and Mr.Obama wrote a series of ‘enthusiastic’ letters to each other, Maraniss creates. He continues: Obama was the main character in his letters, in a self-conscious way, with variations on the design of his search for purpose and self-identity. In one letter, he told Alex that it looked as if many of his Pakistani pals were headed toward the business world, and his old high-school buddies were ‘moving toward the popular ‘. Where did that leave him? ‘I must acknowledge large dollops of jealousy for both groups,’ he wrote. ‘Caught with out a class, a framework, or history to help me, in a sense the decision to have a different path is made for me The only method to assuage my feelings of isolation are to absorb all of the traditions [and] classes cause them to become mine, me theirs ‘.
In another letter to McNear about T.S. Eliot, Obama writes, ‘Remember how I said there is a particular kind of conservatism that i respect more than bourgeois liberalism–Eliot is of this kind ‘. Maraniss also gives information on Mr.Obama’s connection with Genevieve Cook, a 25-year-old when he was 22, he met in 1983. It had been ‘the greatest romantic relationship of his small life,’ Maraniss writes. In journal entries that Maraniss excerpts, Cook mused over Mr.Obama’s character, writing his reserved character. ‘Barack–still intrigues me, but so much going on under the surface, out of reach. Secured, controlled,’ she wrote on March 22, 1984. Mr.Obama described Cook in his memoir ‘Dreams of My Father’ without using her name, recounting her as ‘a woman in NYC that I loved…She was white. She’d dark hair, and specks of green in her eyes. Her voice sounded like a wind chime ‘. The president later acknowledged that while Cook was his NY girlfriend, his description of her was a ‘compression’ of former girlfriends. Maraniss writes that Mr.Obama made his way to Chicago after taking fascination with Harold Washington’s mayoral campaign there.