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Who was Stanley Ann Dunham?

March 3, 2011 | 12:25 pm

Anndunham_babybarack Close followers of politics know that Stanley Ann Dunham was the mother of President Obama. And while the president has written about his dad -- there was that whole "Dreams From My Father" bestseller -- his mother has been less present in Obama's public narrative.

Now, Stanley Ann Dunham -- who went by Ann -- will come into focus, with a biography coming in May from Riverhead. "A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother" is due in bookstores May 3.

The biography is written by Janny Scott, a former New York Times reporter who left the paper to complete the book. Here's the publisher's description:

Award-winning reporter Janny Scott has interviewed nearly two hundred of Ann's friends, colleagues, and relatives (including both her children), and combed through boxes of personal and professional papers, letters to friends, and photo albums, to uncover the full breadth of Ann's inspiring and untraditional life, and to show the remarkable extent to which she shaped the man Obama is today.

Ann's story moves from Kansas and Washington State to Hawaii and Indonesia. It begins in a time when interracial marriage was still a felony in much of the United States and culminates in the present moment, with her son as our president -- something she never got to see. It is a poignant look at how character is passed from parent to child, and insight into how Obama's destiny was created early, by his mother's extraordinary faith in his gifts, and by her unconventional mothering. Finally, it is a heartbreaking story of a woman who died at age fifty-two, before her son had gone on to his greatest accomplishments and reflections of what she had taught him.

As Ann Dunham's studies and work took her around the Pacific Rim, Barack eventually went to live with his grandparents in Hawaii to finish school. Dunham died in 1995 of cancer.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Stanley Ann Dunham and a young Barack Obama. Credit: Obama Presidential Campaign / Associated Press