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Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0313385339
ISBN-10: 0313385335
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Whatever the final historical judgment of Obama's presidency, the very fact of it resonates globally as it signals that the United States is more in sync with the rest of the world than its power-wielding implies and is ready for the multicultural changes of the 21st century, says cultural anthropologist Sharma. He draws on his insider-outsider perspective as an immigrant, written materials by and about Obama, and interviews with family, friends, neighbors, and teachers in Hawaii and Indonesia to offer the first cultural biography of Barack Obama. . . . Sharma offers intriguing glimpses of Obama's life and a compelling argument that Obama's singular background and his election as U.S. president despite distrust of his "otherness" make him a transformative figure as the United States grapples with emerging nations and its own decline as the world's only superpower." - Booklist Online

"An enlightening account of Obama's boyhood chronicling an amazing transformation from an Indonesian slumdog ordinaire into a planetary prophet for the ages." - aalbc.com

"Sharma (culture psychology and marketing, St. Francis College, New York) provides a psycho-cultural biography of President Obama in his first 18 years in Hawai'i and Indonesia, then later on as a young man in college and afterwards on the mainland United States. Using as evidence Obama's writings along with interviews with Obama's former teachers, his half-sister, classmates in the Catholic elementary school and state elementary school (that used Muslim prayers) that Obama attended as a child in Jakarta, and interviews in the elite prep school in Honolulu he later attended, the author contends that Obama is the United State's first global president, given that his first experiences were with multiracial, multiethnic, multilinguistic people in those areas. . . . Recommended." - Choice

Review

"Academics, students, and the public will be riveted by this compelling and original perspective about the formative years in the development of Barack Obama that offers a unique psychological and sociological lens on the ascendancy of a young African American boy to become the leader of most powerful country in the world. The author's personal journey in his quest to learn about Obama's roots are artfully woven with historical facts and psychological theory, resulting in a brilliant book that at times reads like an historical novel but is all that much more important a tome given that it is real history. The result is a book that should be read by everyone interested in the state of the world today." (Dr. Judy Kuriansky, Clinical Psychologist and Author of Beyond Bullets and Bombs: Grassroots Peacebuilding between Israelis and Palestinians)

"I have engaged in two close reads of Dinesh Sharma's Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President because there was a large number of cogent insights and fresh data in the manuscript. Having read Obama's two books fairly carefully and having studied all of the President's speeches since 2007, I conclude that Sharma's volume trumps all others that are currently out. The concept of a global President is fleshed out with considerable detail and conceptual exploration; it is not simply asserted as some journalists have. The analytic lines of this book run deep and the narrative sometimes moves into a level of artistic brilliance." (Lawrence J. Friedman, Professor, Mind-Brain-Behavior Initiative, Harvard University, Professor of History Emeritus, Indiana University)

"In this fascinating cultural biography, Dinesh Sharma considers the ways in which Barack Obama has assumed the unique role of global President. Sharma casts an astute psychological eye on Obama's early years, tracing the sources of the president's life story in his childhood and adolescent experiences in Indonesia, Hawai‘i, and the U.S. mainland. In the complex and multi-cultural identity that is Barack Obama, Americans may find new clues about who they are now and what America itself may come to mean in the 21st century." (Dan P. McAdams, Author of George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream)

"This intriguing book helps us understand not only who Barack Obama is but why he is the way he is. We are all products of our life experiences. Sharma helps us understand the impact of the compelling life experiences that made the man who is now our President." (Jerry Burris, Former Editorial Page Editor, Honolulu Advertiser; Coauthor, with Stu Glauberman, of The Journey Begins: How Hawaii Shaped Barack Obama)

"This deeply researched book provides a new understanding of how Obama's varied childhood environments contributed to his development and his outlook as an adult. Its vivid glimpses of his life in Jakarta and Honolulu, and its portraits of his relationships in these places, answer questions raised by previous accounts and make better sense of the man who became, as Sharma calls him, our 'first global president'." (Robert A. LeVine is Professor Emeritus of Education and Human Development and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Harvard University)

"The child is father to the man," said Wordsworth. In this biography, Obama's key relationships with mother, his grandmother, his stepfather, and his absent biological father are examined in both factual and psychological detail to show how Obama constructed his own life from the life experiences that made him President and the global man that he is today. Special attention is given to Obama's formation of identity, the well known developmental concept of the renowned psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. Given the complexities of his multicultural upbringing in a non-nuclear or non-traditional family structure, the formation of Obama's sense of place and cultural context is captured in great detail. . . . The result of Dinesh Sharma's far-reaching and penetrating portrait makes one feel a great sense of congruence and parallelism between the multiple and multilayered geographical, cultural, and interpersonal forces that shaped President Obama and his pivotal role as President of the United States in these complex, global, and challenging times we live in today." (Professor Karen Vander Ven and Associate Professor Andrew Schneider Munoz, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh, PA)

"Dr. Dinesh Sharma has produced a masterful analysis of Barack Obama's psychosocial journey from his early identification as Barry, a young boy attempting to define himself, to a sophisticated world leader and America's first African-American president. Dr. Sharma's training and scholarship as a cross-cultural psychologist coupled with his own cross-cultural roots has given him an implicit understanding of both the benefits Obama has gleaned and challenges he has faced as a multicultural person with African ancestry. Insightfully commingling relevant theory and research, politico-historical data, and first-hand accounts from primary sources, Sharma has contributed an exhaustive depiction of Obama's evolution." (Holly O. Houston, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Director/Clinical Supervisor at Anxiety & Stress Center and Former Clinical Faculty at University of Chicago and University of Illinois)

"Dr. Sharma has chosen the important task of showing us how Obama's thinking arose on a global scale. He gives us a picture of Obama in Java, where his step-father introduces him to many things, for example, that life is tough for many people. Obama also learns that there are many types of Islam and most are benign. Sharma also introduces us to Obama's strong-minded Grandmother who, with just a high school education became the first woman to become a Vice-President in a Hawaiian Bank, where she literally wrote the book on escrow. He also analyzes the impact that his mother had on him. She has been described as a pragmatic idealist who implemented social reform not just in Java or even in Indonesia but in other Southeast Asian countries and Pakistan and Kenya, best known for her work on micro-credits for women. These are some of the influences which make him truly a Global President." (Alice Dewey, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at University of Hawai‘i, Honolulu, HI)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (September 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313385335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313385339
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,292,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Barack Obama's historic run for the presidency spawned a cottage industry of books about him and the First Lady, with several even being published well before the inauguration. Most of the early offerings were merely take-the-money-and-run rip-offs.

Dr. Sharma conducted a couple of years' worth of painstaking research in preparing this opus, venturing to Obama's hometowns in Indonesia and Hawaii and to other important ports-of-call to conduct interviews firsthand and to unearth evidence to determine how his subject had truly been imprinted as a child. Among many issues, he tackles such popular questions as whether Obama had attended a Muslim or Christian school in Jakarta (both) and whether he was born in Hawaii (of course).

Overall, the author was obviously extremely impressed by what he learned about the President, since he has no reservations about comparing him favorably to such icons as fellow Nobel Peace Prize-winner Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and the fabled King Arthur.

An enlightening account of Obama's boyhood chronicling an amazing transformation from an Indonesian slumdog ordinaire into a planetary prophet for the ages.

Read the full review and more book reviews from AALBC.com on your Kindle Edition
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Format: Hardcover
Social & Behavioral Sciences \ History, Geography & Area Studies \ North America

Sharma, Dinesh. Barack Obama in Hawai`i and Indonesia: the making of a global president. Praeger, 2011. 274p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780313385339, $48.00; ISBN 9780313385346 e-book, contact publisher for price. Reviewed in 2012mar CHOICE.

Sharma (culture, psychology and marketing, St. Francis College, New York) provides a psycho-cultural biography of President Obama in his first 18 years in Hawai'i and Indonesia, then later on as a young man in college and afterwards on the mainland US. Using as evidence Obama's writings along with interviews with Obama's former teachers, his half-sister, classmates in the Catholic elementary school and state elementary school (that used Muslim prayers) that Obama attended as a child in Jakarta, and interviews in the elite prep school in Honolulu he later attended, the author contends that Obama is the US's first global president, given that his first experiences were with multiracial, multiethnic, multilinguistic people in those areas. Obama's biological father left his family when Obama was two years old, and his mother took the child to Jakarta, where she later married a secular Muslim. At age ten, Obama left his Jakarta family and moved in with his maternal grandparents in Honolulu. The absence of his biological father, his anthropologist mother's influence, plus the added influence of his maternal grandmother and later his wife, all shaped Obama's personality, in which he identifies as a black man. Summing Up: Recommended for all levels/libraries. -- R. W. Smith, Emeritus, California State University, Northridge
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Format: Hardcover
The General Psychologist | April 2012
BOOK REVIEWS

A multicultural president

One of the more interesting and eloquent biographies on Barack Obama published to date, this book takes a unique perspective on the man and the president. Presented as the first cultural biography of America's 44th president, Barack Obama in Hawaii and Indonesia attempts to understand the socialization of a multicultural President through the lens of Erik Erikson's stages of psychosocial development. Combining an analysis of the intersection of personal biography and cultural history--what sociologists would refer to as the development of the sociological imagination--the book charts the course of the development of the identity and beliefs of the nation's first black president. As the author explains, there is a deep connection between Obama's upbringing in Hawai'i, a state with a rich history of diversity and multiculturalism; his time spent in Indonesia, a nation with a strong secular Muslim population; and Obama's development as the first truly global president. As Obama proceeds through his childhood and young adulthood, his struggles to find his unique voice while coming to terms with the death of his mythologized, absent father shape Obama into the populist champion that he ultimately becomes. Sharma argues that this unique socialization (well-detailed in the book) has prepared Obama to lead the United States to a rebirth in an increasingly global world....

Sharma details with great clarity Obama's time in Jakarta, Indonesia, where much of his early socialization took place. It is here, Sharma argues, that Obama began to shape his uniquely multicultural perspective.
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Format: Hardcover
"This book is about Obama's narrative truth--his cultural upbringing, narrative psychology, and transformative leadership. We will examine Obama's cultural pathway through the life cycle and examine how he resolved the various developmental and psychosocial challenges he confronted... Why is Obama's upbringing in Hawai'i and Indonesia relevant for America at this turning point in history? Is there indeed a connection between the personal and the political? I find that there is a remarkable degree of confluence between Obama's biography and the challenges America faces today" -- Excerpted from the Prologue (pg. xxv) & Chapter 1 (pg. 23)

Barack Obama's historic run for the presidency spawned a cottage industry of books about him and the First Lady, with several even being published well before the inauguration. Most of the early offerings were merely take-the-money-and-run rip-offs, which is why this critic suggested that theose impatient for a keepsake consider waiting for someone to come up with a worthwhile biography likely to stand the test of time.

Proof that patience is a virtue is Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia, as insightful an assessment of the roots and psyche of the 44th President of the United States as one could ever hope to find. This fascinating analysis of the formative years which made the man was written by Dinesh Sharma, a cultural psychologist who received his Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Dr. Sharma conducted a couple of years' worth of painstaking research in preparing this opus, venturing to Obama's hometowns in Indonesia and Hawai'i and to other important ports-of-call to conduct interviews firsthand and to unearth evidence to determine how his subject had truly been imprinted as a child.
Read more ›
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