Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Book rating: 04 Paperback Three Rivers Press

By (author) President Barack Obama

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  • Publisher: Crown Publications
  • Format: Paperback | 464 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 213mm x 36mm | 363g
  • Publication date: 1 June 2005
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1400082773
  • ISBN 13: 9781400082773
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 32,326

Product 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).

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Author information

BARACK OBAMA was elected President of the United States on November 4, 2008. He is also the author of the "New York Times" bestseller "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream."

Customer reviews

By Lindsey Griffith 06 Sep 2010 4

I have to admit that half way through this book I was getting anxious to be done reading it. It does feel somehow naive in parts, especially at the beginning. But now that I have just finished it, I would say it is definitely worth reading, and would be even if the guy that wrote it hadn't gone on to become an American President.

The book is divided into 3 sections and an epilogue. The first, which recounts Obama's childhood in Hawaii (and a couple years in Indonesia), was the least interesting to me. The second section is about his experiences as a community organizer in Chicago, before going to law school. I found the stories in this section especially interesting, and was impressed by his dedication and faith that his efforts and investments were worthwhile. The third section covers Obama's first visit to Kenya. I was afraid that this section would idealize Africa too much, but I think it actually did a good job of presenting the cultural conflicts (values of colonialism/Western world vs. tribalism) in a concise way without smoothing over the complexities of the issues.

While the book is really presented as a search for identity as a black man in America, I think the themes have much broader application. Who are any of us? Is there really such a thing as a pure cultural identity anymore? Personally, I am an American married to a German. Our daughter was born in Switzerland and we currently live in Dubai. She will grow up speaking English and German, and if we are here long enough, Arabic. Maybe this is a great gift we are giving her--to be comfortable in so many cultures, but it also might have her asking where her home really is. I liked Obama's ultimate approach of taking the good from each of his cultural backgrounds, and leaving behind the bad. I also liked the theme implicit in the epilogue that your community--where-ever it is you invest, regardless of geography--is where you are from.

Review quote

" Provocative . . . Persuasively describes the phenomenon of belonging to two different worlds, and thus belonging to neither." "-- New York Times Book Review" " Fluidly, calmly, insightfully, Obama guides us straight to the intersection of the most serious questions of identity, class, and race." "-- Washington Post Book World " " Beautifully crafted . . . moving and candid . . . this book belongs on the shelf beside works like James McBride's The Color of Water and Gregory Howard Williams's Life on the Color Line as a tale of living astride America's racial categories." -- Scott Turow " Obama's writing is incisive yet forgiving. This is a book worth savoring." -- Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here

Flap copy

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.