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Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance [Kindle Edition]

Barack Obama
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,048 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $8.02
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Book Description

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.

Pictured in lefthand photograph on cover: Habiba Akumu Hussein and Barack Obama, Sr. (President Obama's paternal grandmother and his father as a young boy). Pictured in righthand photograph on cover: Stanley Dunham and Ann Dunham (President Obama's maternal grandfather and his mother as a young girl).

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, Obama was offered a book contract, but the intellectual journey he planned to recount became instead this poignant, probing memoir of an unusual life. Born in 1961 to a white American woman and a black Kenyan student, Obama was reared in Hawaii by his mother and her parents, his father having left for further study and a return home to Africa. So Obama's not-unhappy youth is nevertheless a lonely voyage to racial identity, tensions in school, struggling with black literature?with one month-long visit when he was 10 from his commanding father. After college, Obama became a community organizer in Chicago. He slowly found place and purpose among folks of similar hue but different memory, winning enough small victories to commit himself to the work?he's now a civil rights lawyer there. Before going to law school, he finally visited Kenya; with his father dead, he still confronted obligation and loss, and found wellsprings of love and attachment. Obama leaves some lingering questions?his mother is virtually absent?but still has written a resonant book. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Obama argues with himself on almost every page of this lively autobiographical conversation. He gets you to agree with him, and then he brings in a counternarrative that seems just as convincing. Son of a white American mother and of a black Kenyan father whom he never knew, Obama grew up mainly in Hawaii. After college, he worked for three years as a community organizer on Chicago's South Side. Then, finally, he went to Kenya, to find the world of his dead father, his "authentic" self. Will the truth set you free, Obama asks? Or will it disappoint? Both, it seems. His search for himself as a black American is rooted in the particulars of his daily life; it also reads like a wry commentary about all of us. He dismisses stereotypes of the "tragic mulatto" and then shows how much we are all caught between messy contradictions and disparate communities. He discovers that Kenya has 400 different tribes, each of them with stereotypes of the others. Obama is candid about racism and poverty and corruption, in Chicago and in Kenya. Yet he does find community and authenticity, not in any romantic cliche{‚}, but with "honest, decent men and women who have attainable ambitions and the determination to see them through." Hazel Rochman

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
429 of 522 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Life Story...Somewhat Less Than Complete August 30, 2004
U.S. Senate hopeful Barack Obama has an inspiring story to share, and yet he doesn't simply rest on his laurels in this critical evaluation of his life and in his continuing search for himself as a black American. He wrote "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" almost ten years ago, but his stock has obviously surged since his star-making speech at the Democratic National Convention last month, perhaps to the chagrin of Hillary Clinton...unless she is dreaming of a Clinton-Obama ticket in 2008! Growing up mulatto in Hawaii and Indonesia, Obama discusses trying to come to grips with his racial identity through a period of rebellion that included drug use, becoming a community activist in Chicago and traveling to Kenya to understand his father's past. It is in Kenya where he discovers a nation with forty different tribes, each of them saddled with stereotypes of the others. It is also in Kenya where he recognizes the dichotomy that has been his lifelong existence between the graves of his father and his grandfather. His description of this defining moment is worthy of a passage in Alex Haley's "Roots".

Obama is also candid about racism, poverty and corruption in Chicago, and he pulls no punches in his account of this period. Because the book stops in 1995, it does not get into much detail on his learning experiences, culminating in both missteps and triumphs, as a state legislator. For all the value the book provides on Obama's history, I would have appreciated a more substantive update than the preface on the last decade, as he gained political prominence in Illinois, so that we understand more why his time in the spotlight has come at this moment. Perhaps that will be Volume 2.
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355 of 458 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What about Mom? April 16, 2007
Barack Obama is obviously an articulate, intelligent man; but his "story of race and inheritance" may leave readers scratching their heads at times. The story of his life, the son of a Kenyan man and a white woman who divorced when he was a young child, is atypical. His father, an extremely book smart man, polygamist, big talker and eventually sometimes embarrassment to the family who was known as the Old Man to his many children, seems an unlikely source of the "dreams" of which the title speaks. The author met his father but once, when he was ten years old. Dr. Barack Obama was already married (p 422) when he met his namesake's mother while studying in the States. He returned to Africa alone, married again (and again) and had more children. His mother then married (and later divorced) an Indonesian man and they moved to Djakarta, where he spent his early years until moving in with his maternal grandparents in Hawaii. He ended up in Chicago, where he signed on to help organize African-Americans to work together to gain funding for projects to improve the quality of their lives and those of their children. Three years and much success (after a bumpy start) later, he headed off to graduate school, but not before finally attending services at a large, popular, local church. Readers may wonder if, during the several page section rounding out Part 2 (Chicago), he may have experienced some sort of spiritual awakening: the signs pointing ambiguously to "maybe," making one wonder why the event was included at all. Read more ›
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147 of 195 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Surprise Find January 2, 2001
By A Customer
I highly recommend this book to almost everyone. It should really get more attention!
The writing is thoughtful and interesting, and the subject matter unique. The book follows Barack Obama as he grows up and defines himself and his view of the world, as he finds the community that he wants to count himself a member of. In the end that "community" is really the community of humanity, but this book takes you on Barack's journey.
The author examines his heritage of white, midwesterners on his mother's side and later in the book explores the world of his father, a Kenya of the Luo tribe who came to the U.S. to study. Three parts of the book I found especially well done. First, the evocation of what it was like to be in Barack's head as a young black man with few black role models in his life and the difficult philosophical (internal) conversation of the African-American community defining itself in white America. Second, his work as a community organizer in Chicago really dealt well with the complex problems of declining inner cities. Third, the idealization of his absent father by both himself and his mother and the gradual discovery of the real character of his father and grandfather.
Overall, this book was about his struggle to be true to himself and to figure out what that meant.
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149 of 199 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected - but in a good way January 31, 2005
By Seano
I first heard Barack Obama's command of the English language in his address before the Democratic National Convention. His speech brought to mind leaders of the past who had the eloquence and passion to light a fire in people with words alone. When I saw his book, I bought it to read more of his firey, inspirational leadership. What I got instead is an insightful, sometimes painfully honest apprisal of the beginnings of that leader's life, and it surprised me. This book was written when Sen. Obama was just out of Law School. He was offered a publishing deal after being elected the first black President of the Harvard Law Review. What he wrote is a memoir that is very obviously written by a brilliant young man. I say brilliant because his observations and examinations on racial constructs and communications in America is astute and deeply personal. As a bi-racial man growing up in both white and black America, his viewpoint is unique and his eyes were wide open. I say young because unlike most memoirs written after great accomplishments and long careers, the voice of this story is at the beginning of what may be greatness, not the end. Obama gets a chance to look back and examine his formation, and in doing so gives a beautiful and wonderfully full 'state-of-the-union' as regarding race. It's not the same old stuff, and it is. It felt like my favorite college professors who could make you stop in the middle of a class and realize that you just saw something you thought you knew in a whole new light, and you could never see it the old way again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hawaii to Indonesia/ Obama's Early Life
Loved this book. It's a look back into his life, and I found myself trying to remember the names and faces of his
family members months after I'd read the book. Read more
Published 12 hours ago by Susan H. Michaud
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Great read for the younger generation. Shows a different side to Barack Obama
Published 21 hours ago by Sandy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Had to read it twice
Thank you. Fast shipping. Great book. Had to read it twice.
Published 1 day ago by Barbara Hawkins
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
If you really want to know about a man, what formed his philosophy and informed his world view, read about his background, upbringing, where he has been, and what he has been... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Dr. T
2.0 out of 5 stars Barack Obama's justification to black brothers for his lack of living...
One of dullest books I've read in a long time. Thought I'd find out more about his philosphy taken from the "dreams of his father", but this was just another diatribe... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Lynn
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Enjoyed the book.
Published 12 days ago by Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book from our current president which says a lot about the...
This is a great book from our president. It really communicates who our great leader is. My only concern is that it is in paperback and the print is too small. Read more
Published 13 days ago by CD music collector
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 15 days ago by Arthur D. Hayes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
gave as a gift
Published 15 days ago by H H
5.0 out of 5 stars The book is excellent.
The book was written and explains his outlook on life. His young life was restricted and he felt the differences racially. The book is excellent.
Published 16 days ago by lena
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Why is Barack Obama called "Black" if his mother was "White"?
Being the father of children who are half asian and half white I can tell you that perspective is a big part of the description. White people see my children as asian but asian people see my children as half white, not completely asian. Lets face it we will always see skin color as a way to... Read More
Feb 13, 2008 by David Burkhart |  See all 194 posts
Obama audio
Yes, these audio clips of Obama cursing are very real and it is his voice you hear.
They are the spoken portions of Obama's memoir "Dreams from My Father",
in which he often quotes a friend named "Ray". Ray, however does not exist but is rather a composite character based on... Read More
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It doesn't matter who people vote for when it comes to the president, that is a myth. What people need to do is pay attention to their local politicians and vote the one into office that share your ideals, and hope they make the same choice you would. So your asking the wrong people if the color... Read More
Dec 19, 2008 by Joseph and his Technicolor Nightmare Coat |  See all 6 posts
Has Obama's Victory changed and/or reshaped your perception on race...
It is interesting that I feel in the minority here. I did not see him as black or white, however, I can not deny that most of the world saw him as so. I looked at how he stood on the issues, whether or not I thought he could maturely handle the position as President and whether or not he would... Read More
Dec 23, 2008 by C. Turner |  See all 7 posts
Obama's change we can believe starting to fail!
How did that work out for you? LOL
Jan 22, 2013 by Caroly N. Church |  See all 6 posts
The Truth About Barack Obama Be the first to reply
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