(CBS)-- A new biography of President Barack Obama has some people asking if anything in a president's past is off limits.
Author David Maraniss relies heavily on the diaries, letters, and memories of Mr. Obama's old girlfriends. "Barack Obama: The Story" focuses on the president as a young man, living in New York and Chicago. It shows him in love, and in turmoil.
The young Barack Obama portrayed in David Maraniss' book struggled to feel at home in New York. It was at Columbia University where the future president felt lost, struggling with questions about who he really was - his race, his religion, and even his cultural and political beliefs. It was a deep, internal conflict that he only shared with his close friends, including his girlfriends.
One of those girlfriends was Genevieve Cook, the daughter of a prominent Australian family. They are shown in the pages of Vanity Fair, which excerpted Maraniss' biography. Cook and Obama met at Christmas Party in 1983 at an apartment in New York's East Village.
Early in their relationship, Obama confessed to Cook how he searched for the "perfect ideal woman...at the expense of hooking up with available girls." In her journal, Cook wrote: "I can't help thinking that what he would really want, be powerfully drawn to, was a woman, very strong, very upright, a fighter, a laugher, well-experienced - a black woman I keep seeing her as."
But Cook would fall in love anyway, and 22-year-old Barack Obama began having the deepest, most romantic relationship of his young life. Cook says in 1984, Mr. Obama rented a room in an apartment in this building on West 114th Street. She remembers how on Sundays Mr. Obama would drink coffee, solve crossword puzzles, and lounge around shirtless in a blue and white sarong.
Cook continued journaling through their relationship. In one entry, she wrote: "The sexual warmth is definitely there." But just one month later, she wrote, "Barack still intrigues me, but so much going on beneath the surface, out of reach. Guarded, controlled."
Once, Cook told a young Obama that she loved him. His response: "thank you." Later that year, Obama temporarily moved in with Cook. The irritation of each other's constant company eventually drove them apart. It was the beginning of the end of their year-long relationship.
Watch Terrell Brown's full report in the video above.
Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said on "CBS This Morning" that Obama compressed the story of his life in New York in his autobiography, "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance."