The New York Times has a great article today on Barack Obama as an author. I haven’t yet read his books, but this article will make you want to.
The article is Obama’s Story, Written by Obama. An excerpt (about the first book),
In a telephone interview on Friday, Mr. Obama said he would not be surprised if some people had gotten involved in his campaign “because they feel they know me through my books.” But he said he was not even thinking about political consequences when he wrote the memoir. In fact, he said, one editor warned him back then that his references to drug use could come back to haunt him — if he were ever nominated for the Supreme Court.
“This is an example of what happens when you look at things backwards,” Mr. Obama said when asked whether he had his political future in mind when he first began to write. “Then everything looks like, ‘Ah! Of course this was part of some well-calibrated consideration.’ But frankly, no. It would have been very hard for me to anticipate that I’d be where I am today, where a book that I wrote almost 20 years ago now would even be read.”
[. . .] The book came out in the summer of 1995, shortly before Mr. Obama announced that he was running for the Illinois State Senate. At 57th Street Books, in Mr. Obama’s neighborhood in Chicago, a few dozen people turned out for a reading. There were respectful reviews in newspapers including The New York Times and The Boston Globe. The book was shelved with memoirs and autobiographies in bookstores, Mr. Osnos recalled, and Times Books sold 8,000 to 9,000 copies.
“I joke that 290 million Americans did not buy the book,” he said.