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

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Length: 466 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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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

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435 of 532 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
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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366 of 474 people found the following review helpful By Julee Rudolf VINE VOICE on April 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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151 of 202 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
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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90 of 120 people found the following review helpful By D. Jose on July 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Please, don't get me wrong, I loved this book. Obama's style and matter-of-fact realism is both refreshing and, at times, inspiring. The only reason why this book isn't 4+ stars, is because of the expectations that this book leads the reader to believe.

What I mean is that by reading the summary and back cover, the reader expects to experience a man torn between two cultures and belonging to neither. And while Obama does clearly illustrate his trepidation with associating himself with either culture, from the very beginning we learn that Obama, for all intents and purposes, held his black heritage in a different regard. He was not torn so much as distraught, growing up in a 'white' world unfamiliar with his black background. From reading this book, the reader does not get the sense of Obama'a sturggle with his white roots. The story is rather a search for answers on how to live as a black man in a white world. I believe that Obama missed the chance of opening the doors to a wholely different and misunerstood world of children of differing cultures. In this 'melting pot' that we call America, there is a constant struggle between race and ethnicity and Obama could have set himself up as an educator, a leader of those who had no home. Yet, from the beginning, Obama was at home in his black heritage, but he just was looking for the key.
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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
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