A story of camaraderie at a global scale, Dear Barack shows that it is possible for political adversaries to establish bonds of respect—and even friendship—in the service of the free world.
Dear Barack is a thoroughly researched document of the parallel trajectories that led to Obama and Merkel meeting on the world stage and the trials, both personal and political, that they confronted in office. At times in the leaders’ own words, the book details such events as Merkel’s historic acceptance of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the 2013 NSA spying scandal, demonstrating the highs and lows of this extraordinary alliance.
Claudia Clark brilliantly captures a relationship that has had such significant impact on global politics in recent times. She goes beyond the mere professional bond between Obama and Merkel to reveal the enormous impact personality, charisma, and mutual respect have on political cooperation. A truly enlightening piece that not only details how the German-American relationship has been, but how fruitful it can be.CANDICE KERESTAN, PRESIDENT OF DEMOCRATS ABROAD GERMANY
One of the great political friendships of the modern world, as told through key moments that shaped the twenty-first century — Author Claudia Clark shares her reasons for writing “Dear Barack: The Extraordinary Partnership of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel” in an exclusive interview with DKODING:
Tell DKODING a bit about your book — Dear Barack!
The name of the book is Dear Barack: The extraordinary partnership of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel. As the title suggests, it is primarily about the relationship between former U.S. President Obama and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, the second thesis of the book, and perhaps is how important it is in today’s globalized world for world leaders of allied nations to have reliable and trusting relationships.
What inspired you to write the book?
While the decision to write Dear Barack, was one that was a long time in the making, the final press conference between Obama and Merkel in November 2016 started the process. I was immediately struck by how visibly upset Merkel was when questioned by a journalist about this being their last such event together in an official capacity. In both the days leading up to that final event and the days that followed it, I could not help but notice stories in the media regarding the strong bond between the two leaders.
Journalists often noted Merkel’s use of the affectionate phrase “Dear Barack,” and Business Insider ran a story titled “16 photos that demonstrate Obama and Merkel will truly miss one another,” which illustrated to me that others had also witnessed the chemistry between them.
Obama, Angela Merkel FULL Press Conference
I kept these images in the back of my mind but did not dredge them up again until March 2017, during Merkel’s first trip to Washington, DC, to visit President Donald Trump. I watched as Trump refused to shake Merkel’s hand, and noted the stark contrast compared to her interactions with his predecessor.
It was then that I realized Obama and Merkel had a truly memorable relationship—one that deserved special recognition, one that should be memorialized in some way. Less than a year later, from the other side of the Atlantic, and only six months after our move, I turned over a 250-page manuscript for review by the first of two editors and a translator, beginning a process about which I knew nothing—how to get a book published.
If you ever wanted to know what made the Obama-Merkel relationship so strong that SNL lampooned it, then this book offers you answers. The book also challenges future leaders to live up to the standard set by Obama and Merkel.Review by Cook Scrap Craft
What was the biggest challenge writing the book?
I was an unknown author writing a book about two of the most powerful people in the world. I made several attempts to contact key members of both Merkel and Obama’s administrations for firsthand accounts, but unfortunately my calls and emails were unreturned. To overcome that obstacle, I ensured the book was meticulously researched from the materials that were available to me.
You cannot help but shed a tear when Angela does as she watched her friend and fellow leader leave office. You will definitely chuckle when you read about Obama’s sign-off to his friend. Dear Barack is a beautifully written book about a wonderful partnership.Review by Literary Titan
What was the most interesting thing you learned while writing the book?
Merkel keeps her personal life very private, and the German culture has much more tolerance for that than American culture. Merkel’s husband (Professor Joachim Sauer) is a former chemistry professor who hated the political limelight—so much in fact that the German tabloids affectionately referred to him as “the phantom of opera” because the only time he made public appearances was at the Bayreuth Opera Festival. While I had heard of this reference prior to my research, the one interesting fact I learned from my writing is that Merkel’s husband was so private he did not attend the historic moment when the German Bundestag swore Angela Merkel in as Germany’s first woman chancellor on October 28, 2009.
Dear Barack: The Extraordinary Partnership of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel by Claudia Clark is an amazing take on the relationship between the presidents of two free countries — Barack Obama and Angela Merkel. In the introductory note, author and activist Claudia Clark exposes the inspiration to craft this incredible work.Review by Franklin Bauer, The Book Commentary
What was the highlight of their relationship?
In 2011 when President Obama presented Merkel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award. It is the highest honor a president can give to a civilian, and one that is rarely given to non-U.S. citizens.
What was the lowest point of their relationship?
In 2013 when Eri Snowden revealed the Obama administration had wiretapped Merkel’s personal cell phone. This was definitely a challenging time in their relationship, but the important thing is that Obama worked to restore Merkel’s trust, and they were managed to get past it, and their relationship was stronger than ever afterwards.
What was the highlight of the experience for you writing this book?
I sent Chancellor Merkel copies of both the English and German editions of the book, and I received a letter from her office thanking me.
What are the main takeaways you want readers to have from the book?
I wrote this book because of concern I felt with regard to the isolation among others with differing political ideologies across the globe. As a lifelong political activist, I understand there is a fine line between compromise and selling out, but I felt we have gone to the other extreme, and nothing is getting accomplished because people do not want to be seen as “traitors” or weak because they cross party lines.
As a result, people are more divided than they have been in a long time, and citizens have lost in the democratic process, and thereby opting not to participate. The takeaway from the relationship between Obama and Merkel is that people do not have to agree on everything to form partnerships, –even friendships and sometimes putting one’s ego or personal opinion aside for the greater good is still possible.
While this book is about two political figures and their friendship with one another, it is not a political book per say. Public Policy and politics naturally are discussed in the book, but only with respect to the impact they had on the partnership between Obama and Merkel. One does not have to agree with all (or any) of either of Obama and Merkel ‘s policies in order to get something valuable out of the book.
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