PORTSMOUTH — Michael Kruglik knew Barack Obama long before the senator entertained ambitions of becoming the next president of the United States when he was working in economically disadvantaged communities in the southside of Chicago.
On Friday, he joined campaign staffers and others at Second Run Bookstore on Commercial Alley to share his experience working with Obama as a community organizer in the early 1980s after the steel mills in the area closed down.
This experience, along with a tumultuous upbringing and years spent wondering where he fit in, are part of Obama's book "Dreams from my Father" and will be discussed during statewide book clubs examining the candidate everyone knows of but knows little about.
"A lot of people don't know about his background and his formative experiences, especially those as a community organizer," Kruglik told the group sitting comfortably on couches in the used book store where the Portsmouth club will meet each Tuesday. "If you don't know him personally, this book is the closest you could come."
Reid Cherlin, N.H press secretary for Obama, said the book clubs are in response to what the Illinois senator and his staffers are hearing a lot.
"People are excited about him but want to learn more about who he is," Cherlin said.
Published in 1995, the book chronicles Obama's origins, his work as a community organizer, and a trip to Kenya to learn about his family and was written by Obama before he ran for the U.S. Senate.
The clubs are entitled "From Doubt to Hope" to reflect Obama's journey from a disaffected youth to a presidential hopeful.
Dennett Paige, a resident of Portsmouth, is already halfway through the book and excited about the opportunity to talk with others about the book.
"It is a great way to get to know him without sitting down and talking to him," Paige said.
Twelve book clubs are being held across the state including others in Dover and Exeter.
Each club will hold five, two-week sessions which will meet once a week.
The clubs are geared toward undecided voters and others interested in learning more about the candidate. Each participant will receive a free copy of the book for the duration of their session.