David Maraniss traveled the world to write his new book, Barack Obama: The Story -- to Kansas and Kenya, Hawaii and Indonesia, and New York and Chicago. But on Thursday afternoon, the UW-Madison alumnus was back in town to support the local library system.
Maraniss spoke to a sold-out room at the Blackhawk Country Club at the inaugural "Lunch for Libraries" fundraiser for the Madison Public Library Foundation, and stuck around for a book signing after his presentation.
"I'm a sucker for libraries," said Maraniss, who has several librarians in his family.
Maraniss is the honorary chair of the foundation's capital campaign for the new central library. Its goal is to raise $9 million to supplement funds it is receiving from the city, said Foundation assistant Courtney Davis. Proceeds from this luncheon were devoted to library's annual fund, which is used to give grants, expand collections and support programs.
Maraniss spoke about his 600-page biography of Barack Obama's early life, which begins with the president's ancestral history and culminates with his years as a community organizer in Chicago before attending Harvard Law School. As Maraniss himself joked during his presentation, "I think you'll need more than one Spotted Cow [while reading the book]."
The library's capital campaign chair Tripp Widder, who introduced Maraniss, said there were 209 holds on the book at the Madison Central Library as of Tuesday.
"David's books cannot stay on the shelves," Widder noted during the introduction.
Barack Obama: The Story is Maraniss's tenth book. During his presentation, he revealed that he almost didn't write it.
"For every book I write, I have to have something that fires me to do it," he said.
Ultimately, Maraniss was interested in following two "threads" of Obama's life: the world that created him and his process of re-creating himself. The book delves into each of these ideas in great detail.
Maraniss said his motto as a journalist and writer is simply to "go there." When he wrote a biography about Vince Lombardi, he and his wife moved to Green Bay for a winter. Now, his research for Barack Obama: The Story spurred him to travel around the globe.