Picks and Pans Review: Buzz Book: on Barack Obama's Mom

updated 05/16/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/16/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Janny Scott packs 2½ years of research into her bio of Stanley Ann Dunham, the quixotic anthropologist who raised a president. Some tidbits:

SHE WAS A DISTANT MOM

Friends say Dunham was saddened to leave her son in Hawaii with her parents for most of his childhood while she did PhD work in Indonesia. But some colleagues say she never mentioned having a family.

SHE WAS A LIST MAKER

On New Year's Day 1985, her 12 "Long Range Goals" included "continuing constructive dialogue w/Barry," then 23.

SHE WAS TOUGH TO IMPRESS

After Barack brought Michelle Robinson home in '89, Dunham wrote to a friend that the future First Lady was "intelligent, very tall (6'1"), not beautiful but quite attractive ... a little provincial and not as international as Barry.... She is nice, though."

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