David Maraniss, the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and biographer has unearthed a treasure trove of love letters and journal entries from President Barack Obama's ex-girlfriends to paint a picture of the what the twenty-something Barack Obama was like during his largely undocumented years spent in New York City.
An excerpt from the book published in advance by Vanity Fair focuses on his romantic relationships with Genevieve Cook and another woman, Alex McNear after graduating from Columbia Law School. According to the book, Obama was an intelligent and gentle man who struggled with his own identity and constantly worked to define himself. Here are the juiciest bits:
1. Obama was a lady-killer in his day:
Describing her first date with the future United States president, Genevieve Cook wrote:
I'm pretty sure we had dinner maybe the Wednesday. I think maybe he cooked me dinner. Then we went and talked in his bedroom. And then I spent the night. It all felt very inevitable.
Clearly, Barry had 'the moves' as a young man, but what was the secret recipe to his success with Cook?
2. A distinct fragrance:
In her unearthed journals, Genevieve Cook described the specific mixture of smells that overwhelmed her when she entered his room, and still symbolize Obama so many years later for her.
I open the door, that Barack keeps closed, to his room, and enter into a warm, private space pervaded by a mixture of smells that so strongly speak of his presence, his liveliness, his habits - running sweat, Brut spray deodorant, smoking, eating raisins, sleeping, breathing.
3. The morning after...
After spending the night, Cook and Obama would often spend their Sundays lounging around his apartment, only partially clothed. In Maraniss's article he writes:
(Cook) remembered how on Sundays Obama would lounge around, drinking coffee and solving the New York Times crossword puzzle, bare-chested, wearing a blue and white sarong.
Despite this seemingly idyllic relationship, Cook wrote in her journal that there was always something off about their relationship.
4. Was Obama too cool for his own good?
In her journal, Cook writes:
The sexual warmth is definitely there - but the rest of it has sharp edges and I'm finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all. I have to admit that I am feeling anger at him for some reason, multi-stranded reasons. His warmth can be deceptive. Tho he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness - and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me.
Of course Obama's relationship with Cook didn't last forever, but he always remembered her fondly, and even reflected on the love he felt for her in his autobiography, Dreams of My Father.
5. He really did love her:
There was a woman in New York that I loved. She was white. She had dark hair, and specks of green in her eyes. Her voice sounded like a wind chime. We saw each other for almost a year. On the weekends, mostly. Sometimes in her apartment, sometimes in mine. You know how you can fall into your own private world? Just two people, hidden and warm. Your own language. Your own customs. That's how it was.
Despite the deepness of his feeling, Obama may have been to cool for his own good. According to Maraniss, when Cook a letter with the words, I love You, he responded Thank you.
Buzzfeed has a picture of Obama from those years here.