12 Juicy New Details About Obama

By Grace Wyler

David Maraniss’ highly anticipated — and incredibly dense — biography of Barack Obama finally hit the shelves today, offering a fresh look into the early life and family history of the 44th president.

Although Obama doesn’t make an appearance until the seventh chapter, Barack Obama: The Story does contain some pretty salacious stories about Obama’s childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia, his college years in California and New York, and his early days as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. (Hint: There’s more nudity and pot-smoking than you’d expect.)

Many of the stories — including details about his New York girlfriends — have been previously reported. But we’ve dug up some other interesting intel about the President that might surprise you.


Obama once broke another kid’s arm. He also used to spy on his step-cousins while they were naked.

Those who knew Obama when he was a child in Indonesia remember him as a little troublemaker, who neighbors used to tease by calling him “black berry, Black Barry.” As the tallest and biggest boy in his class, he was known as a big eater who liked horseplay. He even accidentally broke the arm of one of his playmates while the two were riding on a bicycle.

His step-cousins in Indonesia also remember that he used to spy on them while they were naked.

“Barry loved to peek at us when bathing,” one of Obama’s step-cousins, Noeke Soetoro, told Maraniss. “There was a small window at my bathroom, and he climbed at the window, then teased me and my sister.”

Source: Barack Obama: The Story


Obama’s stepfather had a ZOO in his backyard

Obama’s stepfather Lolo Soetoro kept a zoo of wild animals in the backyard of his home in Jakarta, where Obama lived as a young boy.

Maraniss writes:

“The backyard was a sight to behold, Lolo’s personal Indonesian zoo: chickens, cockatoos, snakes, turtles, two biawaks (reptiles that resemble miniature crocodiles) in a pond, and a small ape named Tata that he brought back from a mapping assignment with the army of Papua. As his neighbor Coenraad put it, ‘Lolo was a weird adventurer who loved weird things.’”

Source: Barack Obama: The Story


Even at age 8, the future president had big dreams

Maraniss includes this excerpt from a paper Obama wrote as a third-grader in Indonesia, as recounted by his teacher:

My name is Barry Soetoro.

I am a third-grade student at SD Asisi.

My mom is my idol.

My teacher is Ibu Fer. I have a lot of friends.

I live near the school. I usually walk to the school with my mom, then go home by myself.

Someday I want to be president. I love to visit all the places in Indonesia.

Done. The eeeeeeend.

Source: Barack Obama: The Story


Obama started a few “pot-smoking trends” among his high-school friends

As a student at Honolulu’s elite Punahou High School, Obama was a member of the “Choom Gang,” a group of boys who liked basketball and smoking pot (choom is a verb meaning “to smoke marijuana”).

Here are some of the “chooming” fads attributed to the future president:

TA, or “Total Absorption”: In the Choom Gang, if you exhaled while smoking pot, instead of absorbing it completely in your lungs, the group punished you by skipping you on the next turn.

“Roof Hits”: Otherwise known as “hotboxing,” this is when you close the windows of a car while smoking pot inside.

Interceptions: When a joint was being passed around, Obama was known to steal it out of turn and yell “Intercepted!”

Source: Barack Obama: The Story


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