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American Tapestry (Enhanced Edition)

The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


In six videos found only in American Tapestry’s enhanced e-book edition, join author Rachel L. Swarns as she talks to Reginald Washington—an archivist and genealogist at the National Archives—and Jewell Barclay—a distant relative of Michelle Obama—about the mystery man in Mrs. Obama’s family tree, the challenges of American genealogical work, and the rewards of learning about your own family’s history. This edition also features an exclusive interactive family tree which allows you to explore the First Lady’s ancestry through family photographs and historical documents.

Michelle Obama's family saga is a remarkable, quintessentially American story—a journey from slavery to the White House in five generations. Yet, until now, little has been reported on the First Lady's roots. Prodigiously researched, American Tapestry traces the complex and fascinating tale of Michelle Obama's ancestors, a history that the First Lady did not even know herself. Rachel L. Swarns, a correspondent for the New York Times, brings into focus the First Lady's black, white, and multiracial forebears, and reveals for the first time the identity of Mrs. Obama's white great-great-great-grandfather—a man who remained hidden in her lineage for more than a century.

American Tapestry illuminates the lives of the ordinary people in Mrs. Obama's family tree who fought for freedom in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars; who endured the agonies of slavery, the disappointment of Reconstruction, the displacement of the Great Migration, and the horrors of Jim Crow to build a better future for their children. Swarns even found a possible link to the Jewish Reform movement.

Though it is an intimate family history, American Tapestry is also the collective chronicle of our changing nation, a nation in which racial intermingling lingers in the bloodlines of countless citizens and slavery was the crucible through which many family lines—black, white, and Native American—were forged.

Epic in scope and beautifully rendered, this is a singularly inspiring story with resonance for us all.

Please note that due to the large file size of these special features this enhanced e-book may take longer to download then a standard e-book.

Publishers Weekly Review

Apr 16, 2012 – In this layered, scrupulously researched, and wrenching chronicle, New York Times reporter Swarns takes readers to South Carolina rice plantations, small Georgia farms, and the industrial magnets of Birmingham and Chicago as she weaves robust portraits of first lady Michelle Obama’s ancestors. At the core of this family saga is slave girl Melvinia, mother of Dolphus Shields, the first lady’s maternal great-great-grandfather. Melvinia never disclosed the paternity of either of her mixed-race sons, and Swarns’s research runs up against the inherently hidden aspect of sex across the color line in the slave-holding South. Generations later, the former Michelle Robinson’s family remained unclear on the details of her ancestry—a subject rarely discussed since the past was obscured by a present-day struggle, and “the experience of bondage was so shameful and painful that they rarely spoke of it.” Though Swarns makes little of Obama’s reaction to these revelations, she shows that the branches of the first lady’s family tree are populated by admirable and fallible people propelled by the currents of race and history, reflecting a core aspect of the African-American experience.


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American Tapestry (Enhanced Edition)
View In iTunes
  • $10.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Jun 19, 2012
  • Publisher: Amistad
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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