Sure, they drove around in a VW bus nicknamed the "Choomwagon." And their dealer was a "freakin' scary" guy named Ray who met a grisly end. "Many years later they learned that he had been killed with a ball-peen hammer by a scorned gay lover." (On his yearbook page, Obama says "Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times.")
But Maraniss also suggests that Obama, like, oh, everyone in the world, embellished his mischief.
"Later in life, looking back on those days, Obama made it sound as though he were hanging out with a group of misbegotten ne'er-do-wells, what he called the 'club of disaffection.' In fact, most members of the Choom Gang were decent students and athletes who went on to successful and productive lives as lawyers, writers, and businessmen," the author says.
Obama was a solid student, and adept at what some readers might know as "osmotic learning."
"He seemed nonchalant, yet performed well. How did he do it? 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. 'It never worked for me,' said Topolinski."
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