Ron Radosh: Review of Paul Kengor's "Under the Influence: The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor"

Roundup: Books

Ron Radosh is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, a columnist for PJ Media, and the author of Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left.

In the 2008 campaign, the media, generally speaking, showed a remarkable lack of interest in some of the background of the man who ended up winning the presidency. In this important new book, author Paul Kengor points to one person in particular who had a singular influence on our current president, a man who was his mentor while he attended high school in Hawaii and with whom he was in contact during his college years as well.

That individual, named only as “Frank” in Obama’s memoir Dreams from My Father, was a fairly well-known black intellectual and poet named Frank Marshall Davis. There was a reason Barack Obama did not use Frank’s full name, even though, when he wrote his memoir, he was years away from running for the presidency. Davis, as Kengor proves with a massive amount of irrefutable evidence, was a hardline member of the Communist Party of the United States, and editor of and columnist for its Chicago newspaper, the Chicago Star, in the late 1940s. In the memoir, the character “Frank” and Jeremiah Wright are mentioned more often than anyone outside of Obama’s immediate family. He is one of the people Obama mentions at each major step of his life....

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