Cecily's Reviews > Dreams from My Father

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
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Jan 29, 09

bookshelves: biog-and-autobiog, american-canadian
Read in January, 2009

I started reading this a day after Obama's inauguration. Even though I'm not American, it seemed important to do so, and also I was told that the quality of the writing is at least as impressive and the story.

It was published in 1995, shortly after Obama graduated from Harvard Law School and covers his life, or rather his search for identity up till then, in three main sections: childhood in Hawaii, Indonesia and back in Hawaii; working in Chicago and visiting Kenya to visit his father's family. He accepts a black identity before his teens, but never really feels he fits anywhere - until Kenya. It's intensely personal, yet very private as well: many insights into thoughts about his place in his families, in the world, his race etc, yet almost nothing about what he studied at university, girlfriends, what he did in his spare time, why his mother's relationships broke down, what the half sister he grew up with was like, becoming a Christian etc.

It's generally very well written and in the Chicago sections in particular, I really felt I could "hear" the voices of those he quoted in a very literal and accented way. That said, some of the lengthy telling of his father's life, in the words of Kenyan relatives were much flatter.

My only gripes are the lack of an index or a family tree of his complicated Kenyan family (and a few photos might have been nice).

Overall, a very enjoyable and positive experience. He invariably sees the best in people (though he's not blind to their weaknesses) and there are strong echoes of what he said in the presidential election, which indicates (to me) a reassuring degree of insight, consistency and integrity.


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