on May 2, 2015
I was fortunate enough to meet the author during an author event at a local book store. I found his ideas on Obama and his possible place in history intriguing. I don't believe anyone has ever addressed the sometimes transient nature of his childhood and how it might have positively influenced him as a leader in such a way before. As the United States' first bi-racial president, Obama was raised by a white mother and grandparents, but his skin color kept him from being able to fully integrate into their world. The experiences gained by the balancing act between these two cultures has left him better prepared as a leader to deal with a changing American dynamic. His time in Indonesia and Hawaii (the most exotic state in the United States) left him with a more global perspective than any other president might have had, which is helpful at a time when formerly quiet countries are rising up to be heard. It is possible that's why when it comes to relations with other countries, he's more interested in diplomacy than "might makes right." I particularly liked how the author examined his relationships with the many strong women in his life (his mother, grandmother, wife, mother-in-law) and how their influence helped shape him. This has all left him, more so than any other president, with a mind more flexible to the changing realities not only of the U.S. but the world.
Sharma's exploration of all these factors makes for interesting reading. I'd highly recommend this book to offer a clear insight into the influences behind a fascinating president.
on June 15, 2012
The General Psychologist | April 2012
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. Finding his way in a predominantly Muslim country that was only beginning to emerge on the world stage, Obama learns the benefits of compromise and cultural relativism--traits that will serve him well in later roles as a community organizer, senator, and president. Later, returning to the multicultural state of Hawai'I, Obama continues his development and education at the Punahou school, further developing his intellect....
The identity transition becomes complete only when Obama moves to the mainland and discovers that his father has perished in a car accident. According to Sharma, it is this defining event, that solidifies Obama's personality as he struggles to come to grips with the actions of his absent and somewhat mysterious father. It is here on the mainland that "Barry" fully adopts the name and accompanying identity of Barack Obama. Sharma suggests this is a hybrid identity that has prepared Obama to take the reins of a changing United States....
J. Scott Lewis, PhD, Penn State, PA
on June 2, 2012
"Dinesh Sharma's book is a primer for all individuals interested in learning about Barack Obama's early life and how it shaped his viewpoints as President. Sharma has written an insightful and well researched book. The Making of a Global President helps us better understand the world in which we live and the rationale behind some of the policies of the Obama administration in domestic and foreign affairs." -- Lewis Goldstein, Assistant Superintendent, Princeton Regional Schools
"The making of Barack Obama as a Global President"
"How did a young, rookie Illinois senator, with a name derived from Swahili and Arabic, an African-American identity, and a bi-racial heritage, achieve the ultimate American dream: growing up to be the president? To millions of Americans, including many who voted for him, the landmark election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States remains a revelation. Much has been written about President Obama's mastery of the internet, his victory for racial equality and his charisma. Yet, the exceptional qualities that distinguish President Barack Obama as a leader for our changing times-his multicultural roots and his international sensibilities-have been largely overlooked.
"President Barack Obama is born of a multicultural America at the cusp of the age of globalization," states Dr Dinesh Sharma, a PhD from Harvard University and a cultural psychologist. "He is truly America's hybrid president, a man of many continents, races, cultures, and histories," says Dr Dinesh Sharma. In his new book, "Barack Obama in Hawaii and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President (Praeger; September 30, 2011)," Dr Sharma presents the first cultural biography of a trailblazing, transformational leader-not only the first Black president in America, but also the first multicultural head of state of any Western democracy. Drawing on extensive research in the fields of psychology, anthropology, education and on the ground interviews in Jakarta, Honolulu, New York City, Washington, DC, and Chicago, Dr Sharma reveals, in riveting detail, how President Obama's rare multicultural upbringing shaped his character and his worldview, preparing him to meet the challenges of leadership-from demographic changes at home to rising competition from Asia to the perceived threat of radical Islam-in the global 21st century. "President Obama has charted a new course for America, backed heavily by his own biography," the author attests.
Informed by newly gathered insights from people who knew Barack when he was known as Barry (including his half-Indonesian sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and his teachers in Jakarta, where he attended both Islamic Public and Catholic schools, as well as at the Punahou School in Honolulu), the book offers a chronological and psychosocial journey of Obama's development as a globally-minded individual and political leader. Chapters shed light on:
* The legacy of his parents' short-lived marriage, with new insights into how his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, a white anthropologist and humanitarian from Kansas, instilled young Barry with a sense of moral privilege as a black man and the steely determination to achieve greatness, including the impetus to be the first Black President.
* The women who shaped President Obama: his mother, Ann; his grandmother, Madelyn; and his wife, Michelle. His mother's multicultural consciousness and progressive idealism, his grandmother's Midwestern pragmatism, and his wife's strength and understanding of the African-American experience all contributed to the making of President Obama. The Dunham women gave President Obama a head start in life, intellectually, socially, and emotionally, which Michelle Obama first recognized as presidential timber.
* The impact of his early global education, until age 10 in Jakarta, where President Obama lived on the "Islamic street" with colorful characters in his house, including a gay cook, and came to see how different religions, particularly Islam and Christianity, could live side by side.
* The truth behind allegations that President Obama is a Muslim. While living in the largest Islamic democracy, Indonesia, Obama did not convert to Islam or go through any rite of passage; neither was he adopted by his Indonesian, secular Muslim stepfather. However, in third grade, when he was nine years old, President Obama wrote an essay about his dream to be president one day and used to imitate the Indonesian President Suharto.
* President Obama's apprenticeship in becoming a leader at the Punahou School. Sheltered from the negative stereotypes of Black men on the mainland, but still a minority in Hawaii, President Obama began to search for his own identity while learning to navigate different cultural worlds with ease. With its emphasis on community service and moral accountability, this elite preparatory school also planted the seeds for Obama's career in public service and opened his mind to the 'magical' power of words in moving people to political action.
The circumstances surrounding the death of his long-lost father and the ensuing autobiography: "Dreams from My Father". Dr Sharma delves into President Obama's haunting dreams, where his father is in a jail and President Obama is trying to get him out. These dreams reverberate throughout his life story and political identity and make him, along with many other fatherless presidents from George Washington to Bill Clinton who raised themselves by their bootstraps, an American archetype.
In the final chapters, the book delves into President Obama's transition to the mainland, the affirmation of his African-American identity in New York and Chicago, and his calling as a global leader. As Dr Sharma makes clear, President Obama's multicultural childhood and adolescence strongly influenced the formation of his character and values, his approach to global issues as president, and his vision for America." -- Times of India, May 24, 2012
on March 11, 2012
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
on December 26, 2011
"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. 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).... An enlightening account of Obama's boyhood chronicling an amazing transformation from an Indonesian slumdog ordinaire into a planetary prophet for the ages." -- Kam Williams, Internationally Syndicated Critic and Columnist.