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Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

by Barack Obama

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,872185762 (3.91)310
"[I]n New York ... Barack Obama learns that his father--a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man--has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey--first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother's family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father's life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance"--Container.… (more)
Recently added byhidalgoe, MarcGUETA, Edward-C, katihinds, 2blackcats, jpierces2, 0xreid, karLcx, ldbackues, private library
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» See also 310 mentions

English (175)  Dutch (3)  Norwegian (2)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  German (1)  All languages (185)
Showing 1-5 of 175 (next | show all)
So I always feel a little bit weird rating memoirs. I don't ever want someone to take a look at one of my reviews and think that equals me hating their life, but in some cases not all memoirs are the same. Luckily, for the most part I really liked this one.

Prior to becoming President of the United States, Barack Obama wrote the first of his memoirs. At the time he was preparing to launch his campaign to run for the Senate in Illinois.

We have President Obama providing details on his parents courtship (Barack Obama, Sr. of Kenya, and Ann Dunham of Wichita, Kansas) after they meet at the University of Hawaii. For a time the couple was happy, but eventually his father left and eventually divorced his mother when President Obama was two years old.

I have to say that reading about President Obama's upbringing by his grandparents and mother in Hawaii was fascinating. You can read his push/pull to figure out where he belonged, what did it mean to be half-white and half black in Hawaii.

He had several internal discussions with himself on what to do with his half-Kenyan side since that part of his father's family was separate from him for the most part. When President Obama's father eventually comes to stay with them again for a month when he was a child, I could feel the tension that he felt, and the sadness that his mother felt as well for not being able to work things out with this man that definitely seemed so big. When we get past his recollections of college and working I was happy to read more about his family that lives in Kenya.

I thought the writing was very good, but will say that the flow was hit or miss at times. I think that anytime President Obama strayed away from his family I found myself losing interest. Reading about his struggles in high school, college, and eventually when he is living and working in New York and Chicago did not come as a surprise to me. I think that any black woman or man that is one of the first people in their family to graduate college/grad school or obtains a high paying job deals with "black guilt". You feel guilty for making something of yourself and you feel guilty for not feeling tied to people that you used to know or even your own family. It is definitely a double edged sword.

The settings of Hawaii and Indonesia came very much alive when President Obama was reliving his childhood in both places. He has a very deft way of describing people and places that worked for this memoir. The parts of the book that dealt with his Kenyan family were sad in a lot of places. You get to read more about his father and ultimately the strained relationships among some of the relatives and you get more understanding about Kenya and how marriages worked in that country during that time. I say during that time but for all I know that is still the way that marriages work now.

The ending though I felt was a little abrupt. I am very glad that I read this book and would recommend to anyone wanting to know more about President Obama. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Obviously I wouldn't have read this had Obama not run for President, though I might have read it even if he had lost. As a piece of literature, it's perhaps overwritten and could stand from a 50-page reduction. But as insight into the mind of our President written before he was anybody at all, it gives me heart that Obama thinks, that he understands that problems of race and class, in this country and elsewhere, aren't easy, but they are problems. The book gives me heart. ( )
  wearyhobo | Jun 22, 2020 |
Surprisingly well-written, especially by somebody who at the time he wrote it was not particularly well-known. ( )
  richardSprague | Mar 22, 2020 |
I wanted to enjoy Obama's memoir, especially after Becoming's adorable description of Obama running off to try to finish it... but it was a slog. I have a suspicion this book rests only on the glow of its incredibly impressive author, because to me it is only an average book, seemingly focused more on introspection than on engaging others. That's fine, of course, but it's also a grim reckoning against the height of my expectations. ( )
  pammab | Sep 25, 2019 |
Dreams from my Father

I Picked Up This Book Because: Curiosity? I think mostly I wanted to get to know Michelle’s other half.

Mr Obama has had a varied and well traveled life. He has experienced many cultures and taken advantage of the knowledge gained. While I feel like I learned a lot about his past I don’t feel like this book changed the way I see him. It was personal without being personal. I know that makes no sense but that’s the best way I can describe it.

The Random Thoughts:

3 Stars ( )
  bookjunkie57 | Jul 16, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 175 (next | show all)
All men live in the shadow of their fathers -- the more distant the father, the deeper the shadow. Barack Obama describes his confrontation with this shadow in his provocative autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," and he also persuasively describes the phenomenon of belonging to two different worlds, and thus belonging to neither.

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Obama, BarackAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zwart, JoostTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"For we are strangers before them, and sojourners, as were all our fathers. I Chronicles 29:15.
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A few months after my twenty-first birthday, a stranger called to give me the news.
They are NOT my people.

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Pg. 47

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Average: (3.91)
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Canongate Books

4 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1847670911, 1847670946, 1847674380, 1847673287

Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1921351438, 1921520620, 1921520515

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