- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Crown (February 8, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307591409
- ISBN-13: 978-0307591401
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #599,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Obamas: The Untold Story of an African Family Hardcover – February 8, 2011
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
*Starred Review* The most famous family in Kenya—and, indeed, the world—provides the context for exploring the broader history of that nation as documentary filmmaker Firstbrook explores the Obama family legacy. He draws on academic historical research as well as oral history and interviews to trace Barack Obama’s family history back 23 generations. Part of the Luo, the second largest tribe in Kenya (following the Kikuyu), the Obama family traversed through several ancestral lands before religion (some were Seventh-Day Adventists, and others were Muslims) and distance separated them into the towns of Kendu Bay and K’ogelo. He highlights Obama’s paternal grandfather, Onyango, who traveled beyond the ancestral lands, prospered, fought in two world wars, and witnessed bloody revolt against British colonialism as well as Kenyan independence. His son, Barack, similarly restless and ambitious, was educated in Hawaii (where he met President Obama’s mother) and the continental U.S. before returning home to continue straddling tribal tradition and the demands of modern Western culture. Obama senior was critical of the government and friendly with Tom Mboya, an activist, who was killed during the Jomo Kenyatta administration, adding to suspicion later when Obama was killed in a car accident. Enhanced with maps and photographs, this is an epic look at the history of a nation and a family. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The story of Barack Obama’s Kenyan roots, this title is the product of dozens of interviews with Obama’s African relatives, presented by the first person to trace Obama’s family history back 400 years and 23 generations. --Vanessa Bush
"Not only does [Firstbrook's] book dig where other researchers have failed to look, but it also provides a compelling narrative about a place, a tribe, and the difficulties of uniting humanity across boundaries...A contemporary family detective story, with Firstbrook as the guide and eventually the answer man to questions directly related to the Obama family. In fact, Firstbrook may now know more about Obama’s roots than does the president himself."
—Steve Weinberg, Christian Science Monitor
"Like few others in modern history, President Barack Hussein Obama has been dissected within every fiber of his DNA. The Obamas stands apart by literally finding where the President comes from."
"Firstbrook is a first-rate storyteller."
"Firstbrook is nothing if not intrepid...It is not what happened in America that is the point of this assiduous book, which will surely be helpful to future Obama scholars. It is the telling of the story of a large and extended African family that has played a significant and unforgettable role in history across two continents."
"Sharply etched portraits of the president's grandfather Hussein Onyango and his father, Barack Sr.—as well as many living aunts, uncles, and cousins—help bring the periods of British colonialism and Kenyan independence into focus...A sweeping, six-century saga of tribal Africa."
—Douglas Gorney, theatlantic.com
"Lively, sweeping, grand, horrifying, and occasionally funny; a historical biography of a continent, a way of life, a people and, somewhere along the way, the Leader of the Free World...Though some tales will make you gulp, he also entertains readers with cultural explanations, imaginative scenarios, hypothetical situations, and small anecdotes. I enjoyed that, partly for the way Firstbrook presents the information and partly for its relevance in today’s world, as compared to yesterday’s way of life...For the curious, or anyone who just loves a great story, “The Obamas” deserves a closer look.” —Terri Schlichenmeyer, TheTimesWeekly.com (Joliet, Ill.)
"Fascinating and carefully researched."
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Firstbrook begins on the night of the President's inauguration in K'obama where three TVs (one brought in by wheel barrow) and generators to run them are set up for an outdoor communal watch. He then takes you through the migrations that brought the Obamas to western Kenya and eventually to the place they call "Home Square".
You learn that both father and grandfather were high achievers for their place and time and that both were both temperamental. It is not a fact, but the implication is there, that Obama's birth grandmother left Obama's grandfather because she feared for her life. The frequently seen presidential grandmother Sarah is not "the" grandmother, but "a" grandmother... the one who raised Barak Hussein Obama, Sr. when his birth mother fled. You learn why Sarah lives in K'ogelo and not K'obama.
The huge extended family is described and there are examples of their daily lives and the type of arguments that have torn them apart. Many are Seventh Day Adventists; others followed President Obama's grandfather to Islam. Raised a Muslim, Obama's father claimed no religion as an adult.
Hussein (a name he selected upon conversion to Islam) Onyango Obama, the President's grandfather, was educated and influenced by the British. He participated in two World Wars on behalf of the British, only to be jailed and broken by them during the Mau Mau (he was neither a member nor sympathizer) uprisings. Barack Obama, Sr., went to Hawaii on a scholarship privately funded by Americans who in the aftermath of Kenyan independence wanted to help build the country through educating its youth. Following his time in the US (and the birth of his now famous son), he had a series of important jobs in Kenya, all lost due to alcohol. His life may have been lost due to alcohol, or as many Luo believe, in a veiled political assassination. Firstbrook brings all this to life.
Like his forbearers, Obama is a scholar and a participant in the politics of his time. There is a staggering comparison of his life to that of his kinsmen.
The book is highly readable and has excellent support documents. There is very clear family tree, a detailed timeline, and two glossaries, one for people and another for terms and place names.
I highly recommend this book for those interested in the President's Kenyan family.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author, who also works for the BBC, does a good job digging up Obama's African family tree, going back...Read more