Among the most vivid passages in the book, which predated Mr. Obama’s political career, are those dealing with his time at Punahou, a kindergarten-through-high-school academy that he attended from age 10 through 18.
Alan Lum now teaches there and was among those who shot hoops with Mr. Obama. Mr. Lum, in an earlier interview, said he was not aware of “the inner struggle” Mr. Obama depicted in the book.
“But when you think about it,” Mr. Lum said, “he was trying to define himself as an African-American on a campus where we only had maybe five African-Americans” among 1,600 high school students.
Obama himself managed to be a pretty good student despite all the pot smoking and unconventional study habits.
“He told his Choom Gang mates that the trick was if you put the textbook under your pillow the night before you would perform better on an exam,” Maraniss writes.
Starting on page 293, the reader begins to get the dope on high school-age Obama's group of basketball- and fun-loving buds, who dubbed themselves the "Choom Gang," from a verb meaning "to smoke marijuana."
"As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called 'TA,' short for 'total absorption.'
David Maraniss brings all that back to mind with his forthcoming book, "Barack Obama: The Story," which has been leaking like a sieve to major media in advance of its publication. Published accounts of Obama's days at Punahou, the private Hawaiian prep school that he attended in the 1970s, make the future president sound like a classic stoner.
A member of the varsity squad, though not a starter, Obama and his teammates brought Punahou the state championship in 1979, his senior year.
Adept at nailing long jump shots, Obama was called "Barry O'Bomber" by teammates. Alan Lum, who later would coach the basketball team at Punahou as well as teach elementary school there, recalled Obama as always being the first to confront coaches when he felt they were not fairly allotting playing time.
Barack Obama has talked of ripping out the White House bowling alley and replacing it with a basketball court. The former reserve player for Punahou High School's 1979 state championship team brings an enthusiasm for pickup basketball games to a place where golf, baseball and football have been the most-discussed sports.
On the sprawling campus of the prestigious Punahou School, Obama could often be seen carrying books in one hand and dribbling a basketball in the other. He eventually earned a spot on the heralded varsity team.
"He'd be the first one to practice, and after practice, he'd go to the park and play more," said McLachlin, who is the father of PGA Tour golfer Parker McLachlin. "So his passion for the game is unmatched by most of the players I've ever had."
Mr. Obama, whose parents met at the University of Hawaii, was born here on Aug. 4, 1961.
In 1967, he moved with his mother to live with her second husband in Indonesia. When he was 10, the family returned to Oahu, where he lived until graduating from high school.
While living with his grandparents, Obama enrolled in the esteemed Punahou Academy, excelling in basketball and graduating with academic honors in 1979. As one of only three black students at the school, Obama became conscious of racism and what it meant to be African-American.
With more than 3,000 students, Punahou is the largest private school in the country, and it sits on a lush, sprawling campus in Honolulu. And while the school is elite and wealthy, the young Obama was not.
It was the 1970s and Obama was one of the few black students on campus. The son of a white mother and black father, he attended Punahou on a scholarship starting in the fifth grade.