New Yorker editor to publish Obama biographyDavid Remnick’s book, based on hundreds of interviews with the president and close associates, will be published in the US in April, and in the UK in May
David Remnick’s book, based on hundreds of interviews with the president and close associates, will be published in the US in April, and in the UK in May

Alison Flood, Friday 26 February 2010 12.43 GMT

Pulitzer prize-winning author and New Yorker editor David Remnick’s biography of Barack Obama has been snapped up for UK publication just days after it was announced in the US.

Picador will publish Remnick’s The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama on 28 May in the UK, over a month after its US publication date of 6 April. The book, which will include Obama’s own correspondence, published for the first time, along with letters by his mother Stanley Ann Dunham, will be “the fullest narrative possible of a sitting President”, providing “a sweeping and deeply reported” look at both Obama’s life and the “complex saga of race in America” that led to his election, Picador said.

Remnick has conducted hundreds of on-the-record interviews with “family, friends, teachers, professors, mentors, donors, and rivals of Barack Obama”, as well as with the president himself, for the book. Remnick, who won a Pulitzer prize for his book about the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lenin’s Tomb, also talked to members of Obama’s team as well as figures including Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Bobby Rush, Jesse Jackson and Bill Ayers.

The book opens with Obama’s visit to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where in 1965 civil rights protesters led by John Lewis were assaulted by troopers as they marched for African American voting rights, in an attack which became known as “Bloody Sunday”. “Barack Obama is what comes at the end of that bridge in Selma,” Lewis told Remnick.

Remnick has previously written a 12,000-word article about race and Obama’s campaign for the presidency for the New Yorker, but he assured the New York Times that his new biography would not simply be a “pumped up” version of the 2008 piece.

“We’re thrilled to be publishing David Remnick’s most exceptional book to date. The Bridge gives us Barack Obama’s story in its richest, fullest context: personal, social and political,” said Kate Harvey at Picador, who acquired the novel for UK publication. She added that, as he did in his biography of Muhammad Ali, King of the World, Remnick “brings to this new book his unsurpassed gift for animating history through the life of a remarkable man”.

“Obama’s election as president was based less on policy prescriptions than on a sense of his character and biography,” added Sonny Mehta, chairman of Knopf Doubleday, which is publishing the book in the US with a 200,000 first print run. “The Bridge reveals not only his character, but also his trials, motivations, and perspectives in a way that a memoir, even a remarkable one, cannot.”

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