|Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
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The son of a black African father and a white American mother, Obama was only two years old when his father walked out on the family. Many years later, Obama receives a phone call from Nairobi: his father is dead. This sudden news inspires an emotional odyssey for Obama, determined to learn the truth of his father's life and reconcile his divided inheritance. Written at the age of thirty-three, "Dreams from My Father" is an unforgettable read. It illuminates not only Obama's journey, but also our universal desire to understand our history, and what makes us the people we are.
- My first disappointment with Obama
I've just finished Dreams from My Father, and I am disappointed. While I have been very excited about and supportive of the candidate and now President Obama, I am glad I read this book after I voted for him. The writing is dull, cumbersome, and often boring and cliched. So he is not a writer--fine. But what upset me about this book is the absence of insight and wisdom. There are just so few inferences and interpretations of what he'd experienced! The book tells you nothing about the man who had written it. I don't mean only personal details; I am talking about thoughts, ideas, philosophy. Yes, you do find out, what we all know, that he is sincerely and passionately concerned about the suffering of others, particularly poor blacks. This is important and comes across clearly. But nothing else. There are so many characters in the book that you never remember who's who, and so many trivial dialogues that you often forget the bigger picture. The father and the grandfather he is looking for in Africa do not seem to have commendable characters, but the narrator--Obama-- is mum about his discoveries of their rather abusive and dissolute lives. There are no conclusions, no honest confrontations of the truth, and that's what makes this book--as a memoir--cowardly. I hope the President is almost an entirely different person from the narrator of Dreams from My Father. So far, he is doing very well, but I wish he'd stop hopping around the country in his campaign mode. ...more info
- The Growth of a President
"The fact that my 15 minutes of fame has extended a little longer than 15 minutes is somewhat surprising to me and completely baffling to my wife." ~Barack Obama
This book currently has a ton of holds at our local library. Everyone wants to know more about the man who will be our next president. He has had a very eventful and meaningful life.
I remember being impressed with Barack Obama when he gave the keynote address at the Democratic Convention in 2004. I didn't know anything about him or his policies at the time but his story touched a chord with me. His grandfather on his mother's side was raised in Kansas and served his country in WWII, his grandfather on his father's side was a domestic servant to the British in Kenya. He stated that his presence on that stage that night was pretty unlikely but that anything was possible in this country of ours. This memoir explains how he got to that point.
The book was published in 1995 shortly after he graduated from Harvard as the first black president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. The incredible thing is he wrote this book when he was approximately the age that I am now.
The book is broken out into three sections. The first section goes over his origins. It takes you from his birth in Hawaii to his childhood in Indonesia. He then returns to live with his maternal grandparents in Hawaii where he graduates from HS. He goes to college in California, and then he goes to New York where he studies at Columbia University.
The second section outlines his time in Chicago where he worked as a community organizer. There he spends his time trying to improve the lives of the poor African Americans in the south side of Chicago. One has to think that he always had aspirations to be a politician. Who wants to be a community organizer in their early-to-mid-twenties? I wonder when he first started thinking about the possibility of being President.
He tells of a young black kid in Chicago who wanted to be in the Air Force but decided not to go because he figured he would never be a pilot. He told Barack that the Air Force would never let a black man fly a plane. Barack shot back, "Who told you that mess?" The kid says, "That's just the way it is." Barack responded, "Man, that's the wrong attitude. You can do whatever you want if you are willing to work for it." This small account provides a small glimpse into what it really meant for the African American community when he was elected president. Obama proved that anything is truly possible.
The third section is an account of Obama's journey to Africa just before starting at Harvard. He only met his father once for a few short days as a child before he was killed in an accident. Obama is forced to confront the bitter truth of his father's life. His father was a very proud, intelligent and caring man but he could also be a bitter drunk and an abusive husband. Obama's father had a lot of wives and children. He meets brother and sisters that he had never met. I lost count of how many siblings he has. Africa was a trip of self-discovery for Obama. I enjoyed reading not only about his family and their struggles and joys but of his father and grandfather's history.
While I certainly don't agree with some of his policies, Obama may be the most charismatic person that has run for president in my lifetime. Love or hate his policies, you have to respect him as a person. His acceptance speech was a thing of beauty and gave our country hope during these tough economic times. The man has been voted as our leader at one of the most tenuous times in our country's history. He exudes so much confidence and positivity that one can't help but feel he can really help turn things around. The man inspires hope and tells a great story. He talks the talk, but can he walk the walk? Only history will tell. Here's hoping he can....more info
I loved "Dreams from my Father." Of course, I'm biased as I think Barack Obama is a godsend, a miracle, a man among men. Thus his memoir was only grist for my love mill, and what grist. He's even nobler, more insanely smart and reflective than I knew. And his half white-ness, ie half-non-blackness, his Indonesian memories, his African heritage, his Hawaiian upbringing, all of it creates space for the rest of us hypenates, although I'm still willing to give as much of that to the American blacks as they want or need. The book itself is beautifully written, carefully structured, well paced, deeply thought through. A sometimes political, sometimes social, always intimate reckoning of what it might take to take ahold of your life, and thus your world. ...more info
- Half way thru and don't want to finish.
A great read. If you're a fan of President Obama you'll enjoy it. However, if you can afford it get the book on CD. He will read it to you and the excerpts that I have heard from the CD are incredible....more info
- Dreams from my Father
Informative, Interesting, and helps understand the man in a more personal way, to know details of his childhood, and formative years. A very captivate quick read....more info
- The journey of identity of the man who is our President
If you want to know how our President lived and what made him tick and what his journey of discovering himself was like before he became a politician, this book is the best. The good news for all America is that he's a brilliant man, a deep thinker, and a great writer and it comes through in this memoir of a bi-racial boy and man coming to terms with his racial and cultural heritage. Despite being raised in a mostly white environment in Hawaii and then an Indonesian environment in that country when his mother marries a native of that land, this book gives short shrift to those influences as he understandably searches for the African heritage he did not grow up with. Still I would have liked to have seen him give more credit to those who raised him and his bi-racial heritage, although it is our historically racist American society that wanted to pigeon-hole a bi-racial child into the black racial category. For example, about a quarter of the book dwells on his adventure to Kenya where he met the family on his father's side and most of that covers then-current and past stories of this large extended family. I don't recall him mentioning his white family beyond his mother and her parents. I don't recall if he ever saw any of the cousins, aunts, and uncles on that side and if he didn't why not? He barely mentions his half-sister that he grew up with in Indonesia, but there are dozens of pages about a half-sister from Africa (he seems to have several such half-siblings) he didn't meet until he was an adult. He was certainly affected by the militant black politics that was common on college campuses when he went to Occidental, but he was skeptical of the more strident rhetoric and his experience as a community organizer in Chicago which represents a large portion of the book brought him in touch with the tough intractable realities beyond the sloganeering. In many ways this is not unlike other coming of age stories and the man that comes out of it is a fine human being. I would have liked more on his Hawaii/Indonesian youth, less on the community organizing. For a memoir, he sometimes spends too much time telling instead of showing (particularly in the community organizing part), but our now-President narrates time and place beautifully as he struggles to find his identity in the world. And he knows how to weave a tapestry of fascinating stories into the man he became. If he had never become well known this would still be a very important and interesting book. Because of who he is now, it's a must read....more info
- hopscotch makes more sense than this drivel
Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. Read some shakespeare dude or better yet Mr O should read some economics...more info
- Hail to the Chief
This book and "The Audacity of Hope" evidence the fact that the US now has the most erudite and intelligent man in the Oval Office since at least JFK (who won a Pulitzer for "Profiles in Courage"), or perhaps FDR or even Lincoln.
The impact of the books is even greater on the CD or MP3 audio versions, with the 44th President reading his own work in his mellifluous voice.
It was these works, both of which I read during the campaign, even more than his electrifying speeches, which switched me from a Hilary supporter to the Obama camp. As an Australian, I didn't get to vote, but I still cried when he won.
Hail to the Chief....more info
- A Portrait of Our President as a Young Man!
This book is gorgeous. Every American should read it so that he or she can understadna where Barack is coming from, what he holds dear. . . It is poetic, powerful . . even if Barack Obama had not won the senate and remained a professor somewhere, I would feel compelled to recommend this book. It is a unique story of a man's perspective, a man who respects and loves women. . . it has many touching, tear-worthy stories without being sentimental. . it has given me a glimpse at what it is like to be a man of mixed race in America . . it is so honest! he tells the truth about what blacks and whites say and think about race . . .and puts it into a beautiful perspective . . . it sat under my bed for several years and I just picked it up. . . I am luxuriating in the knowledge that this beautiful man IS OUR PRESIDENT!!!!...more info
- Hats off to the Chief!
I so very much enjoyed this autobiography of President Barack Obama. It was quite inspiring. It awoke in my being so many images I had forgotten of my own experiences traveling abroad when I was a youth seeking my Self. I am very proud to be American born and proud to know that our President represents my views and insight of people, and our inate responsibility to mankind. Hats off to the Chief! ...more info
- Dreams of My Father
Barack Obama has written this so it is like listening to him speak...a little complicated for the simplest man but a good read still. It perfectly explains why he is who he is. If you like Barack and like to listen to him speak you will love this book....more info
- Well satisfied.
The book was just what I was looking for. I presume I will have much pleasure in reading and maybe passing it on to my family for them to enjoy....more info
- So REAL for a politician
I love this book because it's so unpretentious and honest for someone with political aspirations; perhaps Obama didn't have any when he wrote the book after graduating from law school. In any event, he's President now and I'm very grateful to have this view into his childhood and organizing years in Chicago.
- definitely intriguing
what a masterpiece, every sentence literally stuck in my mind, was a fascinating journey that had to shared, mirrors the life path of numerous persons of different ethnic background as well as mine (some parts). This is a book that you want to read over and over again,and as you read you can imagine the scenarios(I did) what an inspiration and great achievement in life
- Got lost in Africa
This one moved too slow for me, especially when we got to the extended family in Africa. The ending also seemed to be hurried. What was amazing to me is he wrote this while still a student in college, roughly 25 years old....more info
- Get to know Barack Obama the man
"Dreams From My Father" chronicles Barack Obama's inspiring journey of self-discovery culminating in a life-changing journey to Kenya, the country of his Father's birth. As he meets the African side of his family and hears their stories he comes to a greater understanding of the complicated person his Father was, and the ghosts that haunted him. He also explores the meaning of this heritage in his own life. Along the way, he offers keen insights into race relations in this country. This book was written with such depth, intelligence, and compassion that you will find yourself saying "This man should be President" and then you realize, oh yeah...he is :)
I had intentionally stayed away from Obama's other book "The Audacity of Hope" because I'm generally wary of books written when someone is emerging on the national political stage. Since it was written in 1995, well before he began running for political office, "Dreams From My Father" offers the reader a unique window into the character of Barack Obama the man, not the politician.
A must-read for anyone who's interested in politics, current events, Africa, or race relations....more info
- Window into the past of a great man
Growing up, Barack has never been your typical "I want to grow up rich and famous" American. Through this book, one could see that at the center of his life lies his constant struggle to search for his identity, his attempts at reconciling the internal conflicts over who he is or where he belongs. Is he a African American? His father is from Kenya and yet he had only met his father once before his death, and has never been to Africa before graduating from college. What about the fact that he was raised in a white American family? Does this make it hypocritical for him to criticize how white Americans treat African Americans? Where does he draw the line, and which side does he belong to?
This book shows a glimpse into the life of a man burdened by questions with no definite answers, and the journeys he took in search of some way to put his internal struggles to rest. Definitely a must-read for all types of readers....more info
- Self Discovery
If you want to learn more from Barack Obama, than this is the book for you.
The way he writes triggers a shock in your head, Each word that is used has a specific meaning. This book takes you through a journey of Barack's life, from childhood to an adult. You can easily feel his emotions and get a sense of the questions he has about his ancestry.
The author writes about the struggles he had with not fully knowing his African American Father and his strong bond with his American mother. He takes us through three parts of his life. Each has their own meaning and lesson being learned. The education he received, the work he put in as a community organizer in the streets of Chicago and the knowledge of his father who hardly was around. ...more info
- Dreams from my Father, Barack Obama
Amazing that such a frank, brilliant, talented, committed & real person could be elected president! Definite sign that the torch has passed to a new, younger generation. We're a lucky country! Marian ...more info
- dreams from my father
DREAMS FROM MY FATHER.
HARD TO BELIEVE THIS WELL WRITTEN EXCITING STORY OF BARACK OBAMA'S LIFE IS TRUE, BEFORE HE STARTED TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT.
HOW MUCH I LEARNED FROM HIS JOURNEY. IDENTIFYING AND CLARIFYING MY OWN SPLITS AND NEGATIVE IMAGES THAT PUT ME DOWN THE BLACK HOLE!
- One of the most insightful books I've ever read
This would have been a great book even if Obama hadn't been elected President.
"Dreams from My Father" is not political. It's the personal story of a confused and troubled youth growing up and becoming a man. The honesty is brutal, the insights painful and joyful in turn. This is one of those rare books that can help you become a better person.
I read the book through twice, repeatedly forgetting that it was written by the President of the United States. I can't think of a much higher compliment....more info
- Good Listening
These audio cd's are great. With Obama himself as narrator it makes it as if he were talking directly to you. Great listening during a long drive home....more info