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Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
by Barack Obama
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Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is a rather captivating work. It focused on Obama’s life in Hawaii, living conditions in New York, experiences in Chicago, trip to Kenya, and his marriage to Michelle.
Life in Hawaii and Indonesia was dominated with details of his early life. Obama benefited from an education at exclusive schools. He worked hard and did well. All along he was encouraged by his mother Anna, grandfather Gramps, and grandmother Toot. Insights were given concerning his adolescent years, his friends at Punahou school, and boyhood misdeeds. But he was able to stay out of trouble.
After graduating from Occidental College in Los Angeles, Obama moved to New York City where he attended Columbia University. Readers learned of his struggles while living in Harlem, graduation, and jobs in the city. But his goal was to become a community organizer. He later got this chance and relocated in 1983 to Chicago.
Community organizing in Chicago was rather challenging. Obama endeavored to work with a number of organizations and churches. But the politics in the city was quite polarized. How could he pull the various factions together to help the poor? There were hurdles to clear. Obama was able to work with some predominantly black churches to achieve these goals. His work also led him to support the Altgeld Gardens Public housing project that sat at Chicago’s southernmost edge. Fortunately, he had glimmerings of success in some of his endeavors.
While living in Chicago Obama was able to connect with two of his siblings from Kenya. A sister Auma, who was studying linguistics in Germany spent some time with him. He also took some time off from his schedule as a community organizer to visit his eldest brother Roy in Washington DC. Both siblings filled him in on information about his father who they called the “Old Man” that Obama only met when he was ten years old in Hawaii.
The last part of this book is filled with an account about his trip to Kenya. Obama wrote about Nairobi, relatives in Alego, his relationship with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was able to bond with some of his half-brothers. The “Old Man” had been married to three different women with whom he had fathered children. Two of those women were white Americans. Another was a Kenyan. Both of his white wives ended up divorcing him. On Obama’s return to America, he attended Harvard University and married Michelle, who was also a Harvard law school graduate.
They exchanged vows at Trinity United Church of Christ with Reverend Jerimiah Wright officiating. Many members of the Obama clan were present to witness this ceremony. Michelle, Anna, Gramps, and Toot were able to meet some of their Kenyan relatives. Obama was to work at a legal firm in Chicago, and taught law at the University of Chicago. He and his wife Michelle would live in the city where he would continue as a community organizer before seeking elected office.
Having read [A Promised Land] last year, this earlier book unveils so much more of the man's interior life, and struggles. The poised, self-assured politician started from a much more unstable place. His story resonates, though, because of its tentative progress, its sincere searching. The cynical reader will see a politician in the making, publishing a book for name recognition. But the more open-minded will find a man looking for his way in the world, looking for a philosophy to unify the scattered and painful bits of his past and the hopelessness he sees around him. I've read few autobiographical works as sincere as this one, and I never saw a politician - only a man struggling for meaning.
It's fitting that I should finish this book on the last night of Barack Obama's presidency. I believe that he was the greatest president of my lifetime, but I also hold out hope that he may grow to exceed Jimmy Carter as the greatest ex-president. I'll miss his vision, and while I wish he could have achieved more as president, still I am certain he will achieve more as a private citizen in the decades to come.
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.
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In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where 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.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)973.04960730092 — History and Geography North America United States United States Ethnic And National Groups Other Groups African Americans
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4 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.
Editions: 1847670911, 1847670946, 1847674380, 1847673287
3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.
Editions: 1921351438, 1921520620, 1921520515