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.
Barack Obama was the 44th president of the United States, elected in November 2008 and holding office for two terms. He is the author of two previous New York Times bestselling books, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope, and the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Michelle. They have two daughters, Malia and Sasha.
As Super Tuesday approaches and we try to separate empty promises and strategic moves from real, actual thoughts and goals, I couldn’t have read a better book than Dreams From My Father.
Here’s why: even though I didn’t realize it when I picked it up, Obama wrote this book over ten years ago, when he was fresh out of law school and long before he was worrying about what people wanted to hear. It is, I think, a great way to “get to know” the candidate outside of the media, the hype, and the confusion that comes along with a presidential bid.
The book follows Barack through his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia, his community work in Chicago, and his journey to meet his father’s family in Kenya. Along the way, he has to come to terms with the death of his absent father, being raised primarily by his white grandparents (you don’t hear about this much), and learning the ropes of being a community organizer in inner city Chicago.
The thing that amazed me most about the book was watching Obama 1) work through problems and 2) analyze both sides on an issue. These two traits came through in two different ways in the book: in personal situations (how he comes to understand and accept his troubled father and his Kenyan ancestry) and in political situations (how he comes to understand the long-standing and deep problems facing the urban poor).
It would have been very, very easy to have bad guys in this book. Evil high-up government officials who prevent community centers and jobs from reaching the impoverished in Chicago. His adulterous and alcoholic father who seemed to abandon his loved ones at every turn. But Barack thinks his way through these simple binary good/bad categories and goes far beyond them. He is constantly striving to 1) understand situations from all points of view and 2) think his way through to a solution. He has an uncanny ability to step away from the emotions of a problem and then systematically chip away at it. He understands very well that you have to know why things are as they are before you develop a plan about how to fix it.
The best example of this might be his work in Chicago. Although it’s unheard of for anyone to criticize the black ministers who organize the urban black communities in Chicago, Obama quickly began to understand the huge problems that come with church-based activism in black communities. Churches would rarely work together to solve larger problems and ministers would rarely do more than preach (which, to be fair, is their job). The action that should have followed a sermon simply wasn’t organized. Because many black leaders were ministers, many black leaders were also, essentially, just talk. What followed was three years of work in which Obama not only made major, innovative steps in Chicago but in which he also learned how to inspire both individuals and small groups into action.
I was also impressed by what Barack Obama didn’t leave out of the book. He made a lot of mistakes, he deals with a lot of anger, and he doesn’t succeed at everything. Still, you can not only see him learning from his mistakes, but immediately applying those lessons to his next challenge.
The book, as a more general read, was good as well. The writing wasn’t stellar (something Obama is quick to point out in the forward to the reprint) but it was still much better than one might expect from someone who isn’t primarily a writer. Getting to see the inner struggle of a biracial person growing up in 60s and 70s America was also really fascinating.
There are a lot of great candidates in the upcoming election, and I feel positive about more than two of them. But especially after reading this book, my doubts about Obama’s lack of experience are gone. He has something that trumps years in Washington: a stellar judgment and an almost eerie ability to put himself in someone else’s shoes and understand both sides of an issue. More than that, his ability to inspire individuals to action is something that America could truly benefit from. You can even see it in his campaign: ordinary people stepping up and acting, even if they’ve never been involved in politics before.
I know that after reading his book, I donated to a political campaign for the first time in my life. He’s nothing less than inspiring.
I was looking forward to reading this memoir after listening to him work on it during Michelle's memoir, but unfortunately this book did not slap as hard as his wife's book. The last 1/3 of the book and his homecoming to Kenya was great because I got to see a more intimate glance of his fractured immigrant family and his reflections for how his lineage influenced the person he is today. Unfortunately, I found most of the book (especially the beginning) to be dry and lacking emotional connection. I felt like it was written mostly in a prescriptive manner akin to just reading a Wikipedia article about his family and childhood. Even some of the personal anecdotes he added felt disconnected. This is kind of a shame since his cultural makeup is so diverse and interesting but it got watered down into a straightforward history lesson. I think we could have dived deeper into his identity and what it's like to be a mixed man in his community, and I wish his writing had properly conveyed his personality and psyche better.
Audiobook.....read by Barack Obama An oldie but goodie: It was wonderful listening to Obama. He’s so cordial......and..... ....ordinary and extraordinary!
I especially loved when Obama talked about his mother. I laughed when ‘mom’ forced Obama to eat his breakfast each day before school — with Obama rolling his eyes as if it was torture ( I could relate - I did everything I could to get out of eating breakfast as a kid)....... but where my mother just gave up and went back to bed — Obama’s mother gave him the evil eye and made him eat and said.....”listen buster, it’s no picnic for me either”.
At the very beginning of this audiobook- which has been updated since the book was first written....Obama says if he were to have written this book today he ‘may’have written the entire thing about his mother. There is not a day that goes by that he does not miss her. Obama’s mother is a woman I would have liked to have met. She was an exceptional woman - and it’s no accident that she raised a brilliant son. She took her job as parenting as serious as any parent had. ..........she was always teaching.....about integrity- morals - honesty - fairness - straight talk - independent thought - safety- healthy habits - and the value of a great education. It was common for Obama’s mother to stop whatever they were doing and say things like this: “If you’re going to grow into a decent human being you’re going to need some values”. She believed thoughtful people could shape their own destiny— she was not a religious person —but had good common sense.
It was through Obama’s mother where he learned about his absent fathers values... No matter how poor his father was, (his mother tells Obama), he was a man of integrity. Obama was raised to inherit the best characteristics of his father.
Hallelujah!!!!! Obama said he had no choice but to be a decent moral man - it was in his genes.
With Barack Obama running for president, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at who this candidate was. I had been warned by another friend (not a Obama supporter, I should note) that it was poorly written and its message unclear. This perplexed me a bit since that had been contrary to what it seemed like everyone had been saying.
Well, I, on the other hand, found it a completely absorbing read. It's well-written and an interesting story. I wish everyone could read it; there are so many misunderstandings about Barack's life. While I'm sure there are parts that have been changed, dramatized, shifted around, the theme behind the events that Barack chronicles is evident. It's the story of a boy trying to comprehend who he is, to reconcile with the fact that he looks undeniably different than his mother and grandparents, to cope with the mysterious, absent figure that is his father.
The book provides a better understanding of not only Barack Obama's life, but a greater understanding of who Barack Obama is and why he is the way he is. This book, of course, only presents one side of who Barack Obama is - and the side that Obama presents himself. So, as with all autobiographies, I took it with a grain of salt. But after reading it, I had a much greater respect for him... he worked for years as a community organizer, and it wasn't until I read his book that I realized how hard that work was.
Barack Obama has led a life no one else could really understand, but everyone can relate to in some capacity. I know one of the arguments against him as president is that he doesn't have a lot of experience in office, but after reading this book, one might argue that he has plenty of experience in far more important areas that would serve him better if he were elected.
Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (1995) is a memoir by Barack Obama, who was elected as U.S. President in 2008. The memoir explores the events of Obama's early years in Honolulu and Chicago up until his entry into law school in 1988. Obama published the memoir in July 1995, when he was starting his political campaign for Illinois Senate. Obama recounts his life up to his enrollment in Harvard Law School. He was born in 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Obama Sr. of Kenya, and Ann Dunham of Wichita, Kansas, who had met as students at the University of Hawaii. Obama's parents separated in 1963 and divorced in 1964, when he was two years old. Obama's father went to Harvard to pursue his PhD in economics. After that, he returned to Kenya to fulfill the promise to his nation.
Obama formed an image of his absent father from stories told by his mother and her parents. He saw his father one more time, in 1971, when Obama Sr. came to Hawaii for a month's visit. The elder Obama, who had remarried, died in a car accident in Kenya in 1982. After her divorce, Ann Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, a Javanese surveyor from Indonesia who was a graduate student in Hawaii. The family moved to Jakarta. When Obama was ten, he returned to Hawaii under the care of his maternal grandparents (and later his mother) for the better educational opportunities available there. He was enrolled in the fifth grade at Punahou School, a private college-preparatory school, where he was one of six black students. Obama attended Punahou School from the 5th grade until his graduation from the 12th grade, in 1979. Obama writes: "For my grandparents, my admission into Punahou Academy heralded the start of something grand, an elevation in the family status that they took great pains to let everyone know." There, he met Ray (Keith Kakugawa), who was two years older and also multi-racial. He introduced Obama to the African-American community.
Upon finishing high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles for studies at Occidental College. He describes having lived a "party" lifestyle of drug and alcohol use. After two years at Occidental, he transferred to Columbia College at Columbia University, in New York City, where he majored in Political Science.
Upon graduation, Obama worked for a year in business. He moved to Chicago, where he worked for a non-profit as a community organizer in the Altgeld Gardens housing project on the city's mostly black South Side. Obama recounts the difficulty of the experience, as his program faced resistance from entrenched community leaders and apathy on the part of the established bureaucracy. During this period, Obama first visited Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, which became the center of his spiritual life. Before attending Harvard Law School, Obama decided to visit relatives in Kenya. He recounts part of this experience in the final, emotional third of the book. Obama used his memoir to reflect on his personal experiences with race and race relations in the United States.
عنوانهای ترجمه شده به فارسی: «رویاهای پدرم»؛ «رویاهایی از پدرم»؛ «در رویای پدر»؛ «رویاهایی از زمان پدرم: داستانی از نژاد و میراث»؛ نویسنده: باراک اوباما؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و یکم ماه دسامبر سال2011میلادی
عنوان: رویاهای پدرم؛ نویسنده: باراک اوباما؛ مترجم: ریتو بحری؛ تهران، نشر دُرّ دانش بهمن، چاپهای اول و دوم و سوم سال1388؛ در484ص؛ شابک9789641740827؛ چاپ چهارم سال1389؛ چاپ پنجم سال1390؛ موضوع: سرگذشتنامه باراک اوباما - از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م
عنوان: رویاهایی از پدرم؛ نویسنده: باراک اوباما؛ مترجم: منیژه شیخ جوادی (بهزاد)؛ ویراستار: ابوالفتح قهرمانی؛ تهران، نشر سیته، سال1388؛ در438ص؛ شابک9786005253092؛
عنوان: رویاهایی از پدرم؛ نویسنده: باراک اوباما؛ مترجم: منصور حکمی؛ تهران، شرکت انتشارات قلم، سال1389؛ در624ص؛ شابک9789643162290؛
عنوان: رویاهایی از زمان پدرم: داستانی از نژاد و میراث؛ ��ویسنده: باراک اوباما؛ مترجم: اصغر اندرودی؛ تهران، نشر اوحدی، سال1388؛ در619ص؛ شابک9789648234818؛
عنوان: در رویای پدر؛ نویسنده: باراک اوباما؛ مترجم: علی مراد کاکائی؛ تهران، نشر آزادمهر، چاپ د��م سال1397؛ در559ص؛ شابک9786005564570؛
عنوان: رویاهای پدرم؛ نویسنده: باراک حسین اوباما؛ مترجم: موسسه خط ممتد اندیشه؛ تهران، نشر تبارک، سال1387؛ در یک جلد؛ شابک9648226091؛
در این زندگینامه ی شورانگیز و خواندنی، پسر یک پدر سیاهپوست «آفریقایی»، و یک مادر سفید پوست «آمریکایی»، در جستجوی مفهومی برای زندگی خویشتن است؛ داستان از «نیویورک» آغاز میشود، جاییکه «باراک اوباما»، درمییابند، که پدرشان (شخصیتی که بیشتر ایشان را به شکل یک اسطوره، و نه یک انسان میشناسند) در تصادف اتومبیل، کشته شده است؛ این مرگ ناگهانی، الهام بخش یک سفر پرماجرا میشود؛ نخست به شهر کوچکی در «کا��زاس»، نقطه ای که «باراک اوباما» در آنجا، مهاجرت خانواده مادری اش به «هاوایی» را، دنبال میکنند، و سپس به «کنیا» میروند، جاییکه اقوام «آفریقایی» خود را، دیدار میکنند، و با راستیهای تلخ زندگی پدرشان آشنا میشوند، و سرانجام دو میراث جداگانه ی خویشتن را با هم آشتی میدهند
تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 21/03/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 31/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
In early 2017, for many people in the U.S. and abroad, Obama nostalgia is real and rampant. I used the moment to look back at Barack Obama before he was president, before he was a US Senator and a state senator for Illinois, and discover the making of the man in his memoir Dreams from My Father. Overall, I'd give this 3.5 stars and round up to 4 stars. I very much enjoyed parts of Obama's journey to adulthood, especially his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia which I found interesting and well-written, and while the later chapters detailing the consuming, difficult work of community organizing in Chicago and then meeting his extended family in Kenya prior to beginning law school also offer great insight, they are a bit less structurally sound, more peppered with rhetoric, less narrative oriented than the previous chapters. But it's a fascinating glimpse at the early life of the 44th president in his own words, and I enjoyed seeing the anecdotal threads that connected to Obama's personality and policies during his presidency. And his meditations on race relations and his own personal struggle with identity were enlightening, and I personally found it intriguing and answered some questions I'd had about Obama's self-categorization as being black, and not biracial.
Above all though, you get a firsthand glimpse of the young "Barry" Obama becoming Barack, and what it meant to be a biracial and a black man coming of age in the 60s, 70s and early 80s. His writing and he are intelligent and compassionate, but sometimes the writing style can turn a bit self-indulgent or smug, a criticism lobbed during Obama's presidency but much more subdued than in Dreams with My Father, showing the progress and maturity of a man more comfortable in his own intelligence and skin. He writes of his rage and his anger, but also his vulnerability and fear, of and for himself, and of and for the world he inhabits, and sometimes neither party knows quite what to do with each other.
I both understood and was puzzled by some of his feelings of loathing and anger towards himself and US society: I too am a biracial American with a black father and a white mother, though female and with two American parents born and raised, and I personally could connect with various aspects of his struggle and the larger struggle of the black community. But I've never had to face a choice or confusion over what race to be or how to identify myself: I was raised to think of myself as both black and white, as biracial. When Obama was first elected and I discovered he identified himself as black, I accepted that as his right, but was mildly disappointed he hadn't seized a moment to show other multiracial children and adults that the world doesn't (or shouldn't) require them to pick a side, so to speak, that we can represent and be part of both/all races equally. But reading his memoir, and seeing just how different it can be to be a biracial child of the 60s to late 70s, versus me, born in the late 80s coming of age in the 90s and 00s, I definitely got a much better, fuller, deeper understanding of how, where and why Obama came to his own self-identification that still allowed for the embrace of his diverse background.
I hadn't heard of Obama or Dreams from My Father when it was first published in 1995 (like most Americans, plus I was nine), and while I was well aware of the book in 2004 when it was re-released just after his famous DNC keynote address, I just never ended up reading it. Reading it now, over two decades after it was first published, I've gained a much better appreciation both for Barack Obama, President, but even more so Barack Obama, person, and even if the version we meet in Dreams with My Father is simply a snapshot in time, the major elements of all the best attributes and actions of Obama are visible. And even if I had some occasional issues with the writing, tone, pacing, I overall found this a worthy read, informative and entertaining and thought provoking. It was a privilege to read through Obama's very personal struggles and difficulties and feel his compassion for others, knowing what path that man would take, and it's a fantastic story: from being estranged from the world, he would go on to lead it.
Forget for a moment who the author has become. This is not a book written by a politician or a would-be president. It's a book that was written by someone who subsequently became those things. For that reason, it's a very honest account of an American coming to terms with who he is and where he's from. As a bonus, Obama happens to be an excellent writer. He has a good sense of how to fashion an interesting narrative, so his personal story is very engaging.
As a normal part of becoming an adult, a boy at some point begins to look critically at, and compare himself to, his father. And if that father was physically or emotionally absent, it may be even more true and a more important rite of passage. Obama's account of his own search for his missing father is compelling and it is one that many men can relate to. And for that reason it is also a book that should be read by women who want to understand men.
Beyond issues of men and their fathers, Obama also relates his struggle for identity as a black man in a white family in the 1970s, as a boy being raised by his single mother and grandparents, as a teenager making decisions about drugs, and a host of other issues.
In short, this is a great 'book-club book' because there are so many broad themes that can be catalysts for discussion.
Whether or not you're a fan of this president's politics, challenge yourself to look beyond that and discover the richness in this important memoir.
It would be silly for me to attempt an in-depth discussion of this book. I am a huge Obama fan. He can read the phonebook and would have me at A. This book delves into the development of Obama's character and point of view. It was fascinating and what a life. I found the book deeply personal, profound, and frankly delightful. His mother looms large in his character development as do his maternal grandparents. The ghosts of his father and his journey towards finding and understanding him was also compelling as it applies to the man that Obama became. As was his trip to Africa to meet and interact with his father's side of the family and his half siblings. Yes, it is written by Obama so naturally only the good things that show off his character, intellect, personality, and abilities are present. The purpose of the book was to brandish his reputation. Mission accomplished!! I saw all the things that I loved about Obama present and it just reminded me about the man that I admire. No, I don't think Obama is perfect, but his innate good qualities shine through. As a person who reads, it's wonderful that man that I so admire is a writer. No ghostwriter needed. Hopeful, thoughtful and kind. Loved it!!
Listened to the audiobook. Obama was the narrator and in fact won a Grammy for this production. While I won't comment on the merits of that award, I do think the book was well narrated.
I listened to this audiobook in the waning days of Obama's presidency. Dreams from My Father is about Obama's family, his childhood, and how he got his start in community organizing in Chicago.
Some of my favorite stories were about Barack's grandparents, his memories of his mother and father, and finally, his visit to Kenya to meet his African relatives. It was interesting to read this memoir, first published in 1995, and to recognize all that Obama has accomplished since writing it.
The audio file included Obama's keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which is just as powerful as when I first heard it 12 years ago. It was inspiring to listen to Obama read his story, and I'd heartily recommend it.
Did Barack Obama write this book himself? Man, it was so full of cliches that I almost threw it against the wall, had it not belonged to the library. The most interesting parts take place out of the U.S. Too much concentration on frustrated-black-man syndrome, trying to find a black community and not enough (for me) on how he fared within this community as mixed. Even though HE chose one ethnicity over another, I want to know how he was treated because other people take notice of a mixture within a person. As a book, I think the writing was lacking greatly and overall, it just moved really slowly, especially, as I said, when he was in the U.S.
This is one of those books that I want to buy for everyone I know. Apart from any of the political ideas in the book or whether or not one is excited by his presidency, Obama is a fantastic writer -- this is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Apart from an occasional slip into melodramatic prose (very occasional, and certainly less than the average memoir), the prose balanced clarity and description, and Obama very consciously keeps from slipping into nostalgia or over-idealizing any time in his life or place he visits. After his terms in office (note the optimistic plural!), he could easily have a career as an author. Had he never become president, or even entered politics, this would be a book worth reading, and one of the best modern coming-of-age stories out there.
Slipping from review into personal politics, reading this book was exhilarating. Like much of his base, I've been a fan of Obama's ever since the '04 Convention. I was actually voting for Richardson (yes, I was part of that 2% of the electorate) up until Obama gave his speech on race last March, when I decided not only would he make a good president, but that America NEEDED Obama. Still, I never read any of his writing -- didn't want to be too rabid, and even know I know that, over the next eight years he will disappoint me, make compromises, and have to be part of the political machine.
I was excited enough to travel do get out the vote on election day and to brave D.C. for the inauguration, and yet reading this book made me even MORE excited that this man is our president. Because he gets it: us, America, blacks, whites, working-class people, intellectuals, immigrants. The fact that a man who has had the thoughts he puts in this book, who has struggled with coming of age as a young black man, who has loved his white mother, organized in the projects of Chicago, struggled in school, and travelled to Africa is running our country is amazing. His insights on race, history, identity, and class are some of the most nuanced and astute I've read -- he understands how his white grandfather could be both a well-intentioned progressive and yet involuntarily racist at the same time; how young black men can be both victims of and perpetuators of the myths of masculinity and race that ensnare them; how most people are actually good but that being good isn't necessarily enough to escape the weight of history and mutual misunderstanding.
Whether you have a huge crush on Obama (like myself!), are more restrained, or even didn't vote for him, you owe it to yourself to read this book, to better understand where the man who is now our President is coming from.
In the introduction, Obama writes that looking back on this book after the passage of over a decade, he winces at inelegant phrasing, and wishes that he could excise perhaps fifty of its four hundred and fifty pages. That's the kind of self-critique with which this book abounds—honest and very deliberately even-handed. It's a critique I agree with, by the way—Obama has a tendency to go off on slight rhetorical flights which may sound good when delivered in a speech, but which need to be tempered somewhat when confined to the page—but those quibbles aside, I thought this was an astoundingly well-written memoir, especially given the fact that it was written by someone then only in his thirties. So few politicians have the ability to write with such vivid clarity and such honesty.
I found his discussion of the intersections of race, politics, and culture in modern America to be very interesting, particularly since I am from a country which doesn't have a history of absorbing many people of other racial backgrounds, but which is beginning to be forced to face its own latent racism thanks to a growing tide of modern immigration. It was compelling and thought-provoking; many times I caught myself thinking "But..." and then wondering why I had that reaction, why my own defensiveness, and unpacking some of that while I read took time.
The opening half of the book, in which Obama describes his childhood and his experiences in college and working in Chicago, interested me the most; perhaps, I think, because he was very good at showing the ways in which he was situated within wider (white) American culture, and the difficulties and the confusions and the hurts that this had caused him and the black community. I thought the latter half, set in Africa, wobbled a little because it displayed a self-indulgence that Obama had not previously been prone to, and because for all that Obama examined his relationship to Africa in terms of his own blackness, he seemed curiously unwilling to do so in terms of his own Americanness.
There's one strange thing I noticed: Obama, in what I've seen of him in interviews and on television, has always seemed to be very charming and very personable, with a ready wit. Very little of that came across in this book; he didn't seem to laugh at himself very much—intelligent and personable, yes, but some of the spark of charisma was missing. I wonder how much of that is selective editing, how much the influence of the topic of his memoir, and how much because he would slowly grow into the person we see now over the course of the last decade.
Have you ever read a book that just made you flat out mad? Well the book “ Dreams of my Father ” by Barack Obama is one those books. This book lacks common sense that ever book should have. It pays so much attention to characters that do not deserve the time of day. Barack makes his life sound unbearable when in reality his life is really easy.
First, I feel that Obama is making too much fuss over whether he is white or black. As an interracial child that I am, I feel that all you should know what you are by looking at who sits at your dinner table.Instead of doing this Obama went on a trip around the world to find out who his was, which made everything complicated.He always made it is a life project when it was so easy to figure out.
Second, Barack gave his father way to much credit in the book. His father left him to go to Africa while his mother raise him, but he made it seem that his father was the one that did all the hard work.He only saw his father maybe twice in the whole book, then had the nerve to act like his father raised him.He never once in the book recognize that his father left and that was that, instead he went to Africa on some life changing journey.
Finally, was that he made his life sound so hard, when in reality it was not the hard nock life the he made it out to be. Barack went to a private school to get the best education when other kids went to public. Barack got to go to college to become what he wanted to become, when other students never got that chance.He had a loving family the worship him more than anything else in the world.
All together this book was just a big mess. In the end it was a waste of my time reading because of three things. By Obama taking too much time on thing that weren’t important made this book one of the worst books I read. Please take caution before reading this book, so you don’t waste your time reading it.
Even if Obama weren't about to become President, this would be quite a worthwhile book. I wasn't crazy about his style, but he has a lot of interesting things to say, and comes across as a very sympathetic person.
This is the first of the books written by Barack Obama. He was thirty-three at the time of its publication, a graduate of Harvard Law and practicing in Chicago. Thoughts of a run for the Senate were beginning to coalesce. He was, at this stage, an exacting man. So when he tells us this is a story of race and inheritance, we may be certain it is precisely that.
His is a strong and sometimes stiff accounting of life as the son of an African father and a white American mother - that straddle of our nation's racial divide. It is the story of a man's cultural consciousness coming of age. And it is a form of testimony honed, through both its strength and stiffness, to passages possessed of a remarkably sharp and powerful edge.
The following (admittedly long) passage is pulled as a sample of the quality of thought and self-reflection Barack Obama applies to the matters that concern him. It is the middle of the night. There are boys in a car on the street out front, their noise disrupting the sleep of the neighborhood. He has come down to ask them to move on.
The four boys inside say nothing, don't even move. The wind wipes away my drowsiness, and I feel suddenly exposed, standing in a pair of shorts on the sidewalk in the middle of the night. I can't see their faces inside the car; it's too dark to know how old they are, whether they're sober or drunk, good boys or bad. One of them could be Kyle. One of them could be Roy. One of them could be Johnnie.
One of them could be me. Standing there, I try to remember the days when I would have been sitting in a car like that, full of inarticulate resentments and desperate to prove my place in the world. The feelings of righteous anger as I shout at Gramps for some forgotten reason. The blood rush of a high school brawl. The swagger that carries me into a classroom drunk or high, knowing that my teachers will smell beer or reefer on my breath, just daring them to say something. I start picturing myself through the eyes of these boys, a figure of random authority, and know the calculations they might now be making, that if one of them can't take me out, the four of them certainly can.
That knotted, howling assertion of self - as I try to pierce the darkness and read the shadowed faces inside the car, I'm thinking that while these boys may be weaker or stronger than I was at their age, the only difference that matters is this: The world in which I spent those difficult times was far more forgiving. These boys have no margin for error; if they carry guns, those guns will offer them no protection from that truth. And it is that truth, a truth that they surely sense but can't admit and, in fact, must refuse if they are to wake up tomorrow, that has forced them, or others like them, eventually to shut off access to any empathy they may once have felt. Their unruly maleness will not be contained, as mine finally was, by a sense of sadness at an older man's injured pride. Their anger won't be checked by the intimation of danger that would come upon me whenever I split another boy's lip or raced down a highway with gin clouding my head. As I stand there, I find myself thinking that somewhere down the line both guilt and empathy speak to our own buried sense that an order of some sort is required, not the social order that exists, necessarily, but something more fundamental and more demanding; a sense, further, that one has a stake in this order, a wish that, no matter how fluid this order sometimes appears, it will not drain out of the universe...
And this, for me, is important. Because a wall is a symbol. A symbol. And I ask myself if I want to spend all my energy constructing a physical representation of my fear, or instead get to work on its cause. Isn't what I'm really after the development of a more rigorous and principled standard of order? Harder to build than a wall...but then, most things are.
This is a book I recommend not only to those curious about the life of our former president, but to anyone seeking an entry point to a more comprehensive contemplation of race in modern-day America.
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.
What a thought-provoking book! The book is split into three sections (Origins, Chicago and Kenya). I tried splitting up my reading of it in roughly the same manner since it's easier for me to get through a non-fiction book if I intersperse it with fiction.
I think each section left me with a different series of questions. Origins left me thinking about community: its value, how we choose it, are chosen by it, and what it means to be within and without community. Origins also made me ponder how challenging adolescence is for anyone and how those challenges are compounded for someone who doesn't quite fit in to any one category.
Chicago made me think about what I see as the big problems of our society today: how to empower people not only practically, but help them believe in possibilities. Obama brings an interesting perspective to his work on the south side of Chicago because he is both within and apart from the community he is serving. I was encouraged by his persistence in getting to know people who needed help and felt a desire to be more persistent in building relationships with those in my community who need help.
Kenya made me think about family. I ended the book unsure whether family is blessing, burden or both. Obama's relationship to his family differs vastly from mine. Yet I found myself thinking about family and what family's role should be in my life. Am I too quick to disengage from extended family because of the day to day challenges of raising three young children? What are my children losing if I don't make an effort to retain ties to family near and far, old and young? What am I losing? Is it about loss and gain or responsibility?
It took me a while to read this book for several reasons: it's fairly long, it's non-fiction and it made me stop and think. It was well worth my time to read Barack Obama's story and think about my own story - what it is now and what I'll choose to make it.
Okay, so full transparency? As a kid, I hated reading biographies. Like, legit, loathed them! Thankfully, life has changed that, and lately, I find myself gravitating towards them more than ever.
As an author, I’ve learned that sometimes the backstory is JUST AS if not (sometimes) MORE important than what’s happening presently. And as someone who’s always looked up to Barack Obama and read most of his other work, there was no way I would let this golden nugget pass me by, especially after seeing it pop up on some many friend’s lists!
Let’s dive in!
First off, let me say that this is such an fascinating peek into the world of Barack! It’s filled with dozens of interesting reflections on his family and American culture at it relates to poverty, community, and race.
While most of us are aware he grew up in Hawaii with his mother, many are unaware of just how strained the relationship he had with his father was, which in turn had a negative effect on Obama’s ability to explore his African heritage. Thankfully, by the end of the end, the story takes a happy turn in the form of Obama visiting Kenya and finally meeting the family he never knew. While some say the chapters devoted to detailing this visit were long and boring, personally I found them to be some of the most interesting! It was a very “Antwon Fisher” moment, and if I can be transparent, the reunion legit brought me to tears. (Honest to blog!)
I also appreciated the chance to learn more about his life on the South Side of Chicago as a Community Organizer. As someone who grew up in The Windy City, I’ve always known Obama was well liked, but I had no idea how much of an impact his work had made! Despite the difficulties he faced by other politicians and citizens, he worked his butt of and managed to leave a loving mark on the local communities he helped service and support. You let him tell it, they left a loving impression on him, too. : ) To say I was inspired and encouraged would be putting it lightly. This was a beautiful example of human beings being human beings during a time and in a place where many others were only seemingly thinking about themselves!
In the end, I think this is a fantastic read – well written and not drawn out or boring. Check it out!
قرأت هذا الكتاب بناء على نصيحة من حكيم، وإلى اليوم أشعر بالسعادة لأنني قرأته، كتاب ثمين يستحق القراءة، بل وتجب قراءته من وجهة نظري. كنت قد بدأت في قراءة النسخة الإنجليزية ولكن اتضح لي بأنها صعبة جدا فقمت بشراء النسخة العربية. الكتاب عبارة عن ثلاثة أجزاء: أوباما طفلا، أوباما مراهقا و أوباما ناشطا اجتماعيا. الكتاب يحكي تأملات أوباما في الحياة، التي أعيت الكثير :)، يسرد لك الأحداث بطريقة سينيمائية، يربطها لك كذلك بحبكة هوليوودية :). يحكي لك قصة حب أبيه و أمه، موافقة جده وجدته على مضض، ظلم جده لأبيه بعدما وُلد أوباما، وفراق أبيه عن أمه بسبب العنصرية :). ثم يحكي تشتت أوباما بين زواج أمه وحياته مع جده وجدته، وقد كانت فترة أندونيسيا الأجمل في نظري. يفتح أوباما لك الآفاق كي تتأمل بأن كل شيء يحدث في حياتنا لحكمة، المشكلة أنه يستنزف منا الكثير. يحكي لك كذلك بأن الأوقات السعيدة لا تدوم أبدا. من أكثر المواقف التي أثرت في اكتشافه للعنصرية الخفية لدى جده وجدته ضد ذوي البشرة السوداء بعدما أصبح مراهقا! كم كانت صدمته قوية! يحكي كذلك أنه كان مجبرا على كره البيض لأنه من ذوي البشرة السوداء. يحن أوباما لأهله ثم يُصدم رويدا رويدا ببشاعة الواقع هناك وبشاعة النفوس أكثر. من الجزئيات الجميلة في الكتاب والتي تصب في عمق تخصصي، هو الخدمة الاجتماعية في شيكاغو، والمنظمات التي تواصل معها أوباما و "العمل الاجتماعي المنظم" كما وصفه من نصحني بهذا الكتاب. يحكي لك ويعرّي حقيقة أن الشعارات تبقى شعارات والحقيقة أن أغلب من يعمل للبشر يعمل من أجل نفسه فقط، لذا تفشل أعمال الخير. حتى المؤسسة الدينية لم تسلم من هكذا "ذاتية". ثم يختم أوباما الكتاب بزواجه من ميشيل ودعوته لأهله لحضور الزواج، بدبلوماسية جميلة جمع فيها بين المسافة الواسعة التي تركها بينه وبينهم وبين مشاركتهم إياه فرحة زواجه. أعود لأقول أنه من الكتب التي أفخر بقراءتها حقا. قراءة ممتعة أتمناها لكم :)
This was the first book that I ever put in my To-Read folder when I joined Goodreads and now I have finally read it.
This was a great book. I finished it in one day, which is extremely rare for me.
"Obama opens his story in New York, where he hears that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has died in a car accident. The news triggers a chain of memories as Barack retraces his family’s unusual history: the migration of his mother’s family from small-town Kansas to the Hawaiian islands; the love that develops between his mother and a promising young Kenyan student, a love nurtured by youthful innocence and the integrationist spirit of the early sixties; his father’s departure from Hawaii when Barack was two, as the realities of race and power reassert themselves; and Barack’s own awakening to the fears and doubts that exist not just between the larger black and white worlds but within himself. Propelled by a desire to understand both the forces that shaped him and his father’s legacy, Barack moves to Chicago to work as a community organizer. There, against the backdrop of tumultuous political and racial conflict, he works to turn back the mounting despair of the inner city. His story becomes one with those of the people he works with as he learns about the value of community, the necessity of healing old wounds, and the possibility of faith in the midst of adversity. Barack’s journey comes full circle in Kenya, where he finally meets the African side of his family and confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life. Traveling through a country racked by brutal poverty and tribal conflict, but whose people are sustained by a spirit of endurance and hope, Barack discovers that he is inescapably bound to brothers and sisters living an ocean away—and that by embracing their common struggles he can finally reconcile his divided inheritance."
Yet another library sale shelf find, this was originally published in 1995, before Barack Obama became the man he was meant to be.
This is the story of how he became that man: the forces that shaped him over the years, the internal struggles to understand himself and his family and the world around him.
The Chicago chapters did drag a bit for me, but overall the book was wonderful. Next time I go to the library, I want to see which other titles of his are available. I am sure they will be worth reading.
This is quite a remarkable book considering that this individual is now President of the U.S. It was written when he was far removed from the Presidential radar.
It is well written and the narrative is very vivid. The book is divided into three sections with very little inter-connectedness between them.
The first is about his roots and growing up with his mother and grand-parents – in far flung regions of the world – Hawaii and Indonesia. The second is focused on Chicago and the community work he attempts to do. The last is about his journey to Kenya to be with his father’s side of the family.
I found the first section to be the most revealing and personal – it sets the tone for the overall book. There are confessions of his awkwardness, of anger and rebelliousness, of not fitting into society. These are common complaints of most young people but Mr. Obama is quite eloquent about them. We sense an intelligent person with a keen sense of worldly observation – an individual who can astutely look at people from multiple viewpoints.
I did become somewhat confused during the Africa portion; it would have been good to have a kinship chart to keep track of all these people – the half-brothers, many aunts and uncles and grandparents.
One also gets the feeling that Mr. Obama is obsessed with finding the meaning of his long-lost father who was absent throughout his developing years (his father spent two weeks with him when he was 10 years old). It is like he is looking for a lost ghost – trying to find a missing link – a replenishment.
This is a rare instance in modern times where a President has written a book (an autobiography at that) years prior to becoming a President. The only comparison I can think of (coming from Canada) is Pierre Eliot Trudeau who wrote several journalistic articles before becoming Prime Minister.
The first publication dates back to 1995 when its author was only 34 years old, long before his candidacy for the presidency and even before his first election as senator from Illinois, limiting the hagiographic risk of more publications. Recent since the text does not cover the truly political part of his life. Thirty-four years would be short for an autobiography, but that is not really what it is about here. The account especially gives an essential place to the reflections of a man searching for his home, black identity, and family origins. The subject sheds a fascinating light on American society, on blacks' place, on all the vicious circles that trap the inhabitants of poor suburbs, on African culture and colonisation. I was very pleasantly surprised by this book, by the sincerity, pragmatism and voluntarism that emanate from it.
It was obvious for me to read this memoir. I saw the book in the local library almost three years ago and right then I had decided that I will read it, but being busy in other works, couldn’t get the time. This year was also slipping, so at last I borrowed and knowing not much about it I posted a picture in the group and just asked , “How’s it?”. And this, “How’s it” stirred a heated political argument. Oh My God! It was so much that the admin had to turn the comments off. In fact, the book is apolitical to some extents. Apolitical in the sense that Obama hasn’t expressed any political desire of himself, but he talked much about the then ongoing situation of Racism in USA, its history, significance and impact. It was published in 1995. It explores vividly the times between his earlier years and his entry in the Law school in 1988.
The book is divided in three parts- Origin, Chicago and Kenya.
In 1959, Obama’s father (Obama Sr.) arrived at the University of Hawaii as the institution’s first African student from Kenya. He studied Econometrics there and in a Russian language course, he met a shy American girl Ann Dunham. They fell in love, happily married. Obama was born in 1961. His father won another scholarship to pursue his Ph.D. in Harvard- but not the money to take his family there. A separation thus occurred. Obama Sr. returned to Africa to fulfill his promise to the continent and the new born country.
Ann Dunham met another man in the same University. His name was Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian. He was a short handsome gentleman. When Obama was six, Lolo returned to Indonesia and started working as a Geologist. Obama also moved to Indonesia with his mother and learned a great deal about its history and behavior. With Lolo he learned to eat plenty of rice in dinner, dog meat, snake meat, roasted grasshopper etc. Besides eating habits, he learnt a bit of boxing and some pragmatism from his stepfather like, “One must be strong. If you can’t be strong, be clever and make peace with someone who is strong. But always better to be strong yourself.” It shows Obama loved his company, but things got changed as his mother smelt something fishy. Ann was working in American embassy. She was somewhat idealistic in her motherhood and had great impact on Barack’s conscience in his childhood. Lolo got highly involved with Indonesian elite and multinational corporations. It made Ann very upset. She was particularly upset for Barack’s studies. That’s why she sent Barack Hawaii back to his grandparents and later herself joined him with his half-sister Maya. Barack was enrolled here in the elite Punahou school that he didn’t like seldom. Lolo was left in Indonesia.
Obama Sr. paid a visit to Hawaii when Barack was ten years old. Though Barack was acquainted with him through his mother and grandparents’ stories, but it was the first time he was consciously watching and interacting. Even Barack got the chance to dance with him but whenever Obama Sr. tried to exercise his authority as his father, the situation became tense. It was logical, I think. Obama Sr. returned to Kenya. It was the last time when Barack saw his father alive. Later he came to know from his step-sister Auma that this was his father’s last attempt to reconcile with his mother Ann, that wasn’t successful.
Afterwards Ann joined college to study Anthropology and when she went to Indonesia for her fieldwork, Obama stayed with his grandparents. It was the time when Obama got a loose from her mother’s influence and tries to find his own racial identity in the outer world. As the case was, Obama himself was of a mixed breed, and the skin he had resembled his father more than his mother. He couldn’t escape from his African lineage. He becomes aware of the fact how much important role Race and Racism play in the lives of African Americans. He tried drugs, made friends in his community and played basketball also in his high-school team.
When Obama attended the Occidental College outside of Los Angles, he got the chance to live with enlightened African American friends of his own age. In this period, he read a lot of literature about American History and Polity. Still, he wasn’t satisfied or sure about his racial identity. The breakthrough in his life came when he was transferred to Columbia University during his sophomore year and there he decided that he will dedicate his life in the service of African American people. Though this was his resolution but he took a job in corporate sector and enjoyed it for a year approx. It was when he turned 21 and got the news from his step sister Auma that his father had died in a car accident in Kenya, he realized that it was the appropriate time to activate his resolution. Erstwhile, in his boyhood, his father’s absence affected him negatively as he was like a myth for him, but at this mature age, he felt somewhat of loss and his father became for him a source of motivation.
Obama thought what it was like to bear his father’s surname while not having connection with the side of his family. This pushed him hard to get close to his African roots. That’s why he chucked up his corporate job and went to Chicago to work as a community organizer. To read the full review go to the given link https://raviprkas.blogspot.com/2018/1...
I listened to the audiobook and I must admit I was totally mesmerised with the voice. You find yourself hanging onto every word that Obama speaks he is so eloquent and profound. It was because of the quality of the narration that I listened to every word then listened again just to hear that wonderful voice. It was really interesting hearing about Obama's early life which I had no previous knowledge. Very well written and narrated story that I highly recommend.
3.5 stars. It’s difficult for me to rate this memoir because I deeply respect Barack Obama as a person. This comes at a time of deep division in the country and he remains widely appreciated by many yet politically ostracized by some. His legacy has greatly improved the lives of millions of people, but his politics leaves much to be desired. He has undeniably shaped my world views and I have come to regard him as one of the most intelligent men to ever hold that office. Dreams From My Father feels too personal, almost like I have invaded a distant corner of his heart that he has kept hidden away for too long. But he writes in descriptive, eloquent prose that is both reflective and serene.
“The pain I felt was my father’s pain. My questions were my brothers’ questions. Their struggle, my birthright.”
Dreams From My Father describes Obama’s early experiences that influence his path into the political arena. Growing up as a mixed black man raised by a white mother and grandparents and essentially abandoned by his Kenyan father, he struggles to find his identity. This “black man with a funny name” can’t seem to find his niche amidst a world engulfed in superficiality. He is not white enough for white America but he isn’t quite black enough for black America. This desire to find himself in a confusing society dominated by race relations affects his decision to become a community organizer in an underprivileged Chicago neighborhood and eventually travel to Kenya to understand his African heritage.
Although he never really gets the opportunity to understand his father in the way that I think most young men want to, he realizes his father’s greatest mistake--the loss in faith. With great power comes great responsibility and the most dangerous consequence of all is losing faith in people.
“And for lack of faith you clung to both too much and too little of your past. Too much of its rigidness, its suspicions, its male cruelties. Too little of the laughter in Granny’s voice, the pleasures of company while herding the goats, the murmur of the market, the stories around the fire.”
By the end you see this man for what seems to have defined the core part of his life--compassion for people. He is the reflective intellectual who organizes at the grassroots level. He is the dreamer who believes in the power of people to bring about unprecedented change. His idealism and goodness are antithetical to the seemingly prevalent corruption we see through his eyes, but they are the ideals that eventually guide him to pursue a law degree and embark on his journey into politics.
The reviews I have perused are about people's feelings about their projections of what Obama means to them. Reviewers are sharing their feelings about the symbolism of Obama, and not reviewing the book. And as a symbol - wow - what a wide variety of feelings from far extremes he represents.
Thirteen years ago I read this out of curiosity. We just weren't sure what he would have to say. At the time it wasn't exactly a bestseller. But it was worth checking out to see if I recognized anyone. He managed to have something to say and to say it without sounding like a callow youth. Although most people don't write their memoirs when they graduate from law school. That is usually just the beginning. He must have always had his eye on the ball because he managed to write an entire book about himself without really revealing too much. He concentrates on the parts of his story that deal with issues, and manages to write a fairly didactic, even boring story. Which considering how colorful his life was remains quite an accomplishment. But the book holds up through the years as 'presidential' quality, and the didactic quality lends maturity to the writings of a young man.
And now he is a public figure, so we'll never read about his mischievous and free spirited days, at least not from himself. Maybe he should have been a writer instead. He could have honed his craft a bit, edited out a ton of this book, and added some fun bits. But that would have been another story, about another man.
Beautifully written, insightful, honest, fascinating from page one, "Dreams from My Father," once again indicates that Barack Obama is first-rate at just about everything he touches, which is admirable but somewhat annoying. I mean, the guy got elected President twice and, in my opinion, did a pretty damn good job, considering the obstacles; he can throw a three-pointer with ease and sink a 40 foot putt; he's an inspiring orator, utterly charming, and his comedic skills are exemplary. He dances well. He's written at least three eloquent memoirs. He was the first African-American to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review. It's really not fair for one person to be that good at everything.
The book gives us an unvarnished look at Obama's early life; he writes honestly about his relatonship to his parents (his father left the family when Barack was young) and the problems he encountered as a community organizer in Chicago due mostly to naivete and how he overcame these difficulties to rally people to his cause. Unlike most Presidential memoirs, in "Dreams from My Father" Obama does not candy-coat his past to make himself seem more heroic. There is no such cynical flavor to his words, absolutely no attempt to create an embellished personna for ulterior motives. This man continues to impress me with every project he undertakes.