Rachel L. Swarns

“Extraordinary... No political [book] has ever looked or sounded like this one.”

— Edward Ball, New York Times Book Review

Purchase your copy now from one of the booksellers below or at your local book store. Check upcoming events to see when Rachel's book tour will be visiting your area.

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About the Author

Rachel L. Swarns has been a correspondent for the New York Times since 1995. She has written about domestic policy and national politics, reporting on immigration, the presidential campaigns of 2004 and 2008 and First Lady Michelle Obama.

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One of the summer’s "hottest new titles."
— USA Today

"[A] layered, scrupulously researched, and wrenching chronicle."
— Publishers Weekly

"Completely fascinating. . . . Swarns presents the complicated story of race in the U.S. through the prism of one family’s history."
— Booklist (starred review)

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Find your family

Want to learn how to research your roots? Have you already uncovered fascinating historical connections in your family? Learn about some easy to use genealogy resources and share your discoveries with other readers on my Facebook page.

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About the Book

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. 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 first lady’s forbears who fought in the Civil War, escaped from bondage and often straddled the color line that divided blacks and whites. They survived slavery, endured Jim Crow and joined the Great Migration. It is an intimate family history, but it is also the collective chronicle of our changing nation, a nation in which racial intermingling lingers in the bloodlines of countless Americans and slavery was the crucible through which many family lines were forged.


Play the video to see photographs of Mrs. Obama’s ancestors and to hear about my search for the First Lady’s roots.