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As we get down to the actual role “Frank” played in the life and outlook of the future most powerful man on the planet, it is established that the two met frequently not for just a few years, but a full decade; the influence was “lasting.” During his years at Occidental College, Mr. Obama spoke of “when the revolution comes” and described any doubts about the imminence of a Marxist revolution as “crazy.”

Finally, Mr. Kengor makes the point that his goal “is not to declare President Obama is a communist or a card-carrying member of CPUSA.” Nonetheless, he wonders “if Barack Obama had once been a communist, which is certainly not unusual for someone of his age, then what and where and why and how did he change and why have we not heard about it?”

Regarding the national optimism as President Reagan’s economic policies were in full force, Mr. Obama in the 1980s wanted to change the mood that Reagan had changed. “To what?” the author asks. Surely not something akin to America’s mood in 2012?

Wes Vernon is a journalist whose career included 25 years with CBS Radio.