A new book titled, "Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama," written by David J. Garrow, reported that before marrying Michelle Obama, former President Barack Obama had his marital sights set on another woman in 1986 — three years before he met Michelle at her Chicago law firm.
The Washington Post reviewed the book Tuesday and said, "Garrow portrays Obama as a man who ruthlessly compartmentalized his existence; who believed early on that he was fated for greatness; and who made emotional sacrifices in the pursuit of a goal that must have seemed unlikely to everyone but him."
In the book, Garrow reported that, when Obama was 25, he proposed to a 23-year-old woman named Sheila Miyoshi Jager, but he was turned down because her family believed them to be too young to marry.
The author interviewed Jager about her former beau and wrote that she revealed that, though the two continued to date, the "ruthlessly" compartmentalizing Obama grew extremely career-oriented and ambitious.
"I remember very specifically that by 1987, about a year into our relationship, he already had his sights on becoming president," Jager told Garrow.
Garrow also wrote that Obama's "resolution of his black identity was directly linked to his decision to pursue a political career," and this would often cause tension between him and Jager — who was of Dutch and Japanese ancestry.
The author reported that Obama felt that he had "no standing" in the black community as long as he was in a relationship with a woman from an ethnicity or race differing from his own and was convinced that he needed to "fully identify as African American" in order to continue his political pursuits.
According to Garrow, Obama "felt trapped between the woman he loved and the destiny he knew was his," referring to the former president's desire to one day become head of state.
After Obama left for law school and met Michelle, Garrow wrote that the former president and Jager continued to see one another despite his being involved with Michelle at the time.
"Barack and Sheila had continued to see each other irregularly throughout the 1990-91 academic year, notwithstanding the deepening of Barack's relationship with Michelle Robinson," Garrow wrote, implying that Obama had two girlfriends during the school year.
"I always felt bad about it," Jager said, according to Garrow, referring to Obama's reported double dealings between her and Michelle.
Jager is a professor of East Asian Studies at Oberlin College, and has published five books of her own.