An itinerant mother

May 16, 2011 | |

New York Times reporter creates fascinating portrait of Obama's mom, skims her relationship with son.

Ann Dunham was a fascinating woman. She was an anthropologist, a microcredit expert, a woman who managed to straddle cultural boundaries with seeming ease; she had two mixed-race children, one by a Kenyan man, the other by an Indonesian — and was, seemingly, able to ignore the raised eyebrows, and worse, that such liaisons triggered in 1960s and 1970s America. She traveled the world with her kids, and then sent her son back to Hawaii to live with her parents and study at an elite private school while she stayed in Indonesia. She made choices that opened her to criticism, yet she stood her ground and flourished in her work.

For all of these reasons, Scott's new book, A Singular Woman, ought to make for an interesting read.

But I suspect that few readers will be flocking to the bookstores to buy this book for these reasons alone. Realistically, it is the subtitle that will draw readers in: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother. For Stanley Ann Dunham — known at different times in her life as Ann Obama, Ann Soetera, Ann Sutoro and other variants on these themes — happens to have produced a son, known to her as Barry and to the world as Barack, who, 13 years after her premature death from uterine cancer, was elected president of the United States.