Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Archive for April 6th, 2009

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Posted by nliakos on April 6, 2009

by Barack Obama, Three Rivers Press 1995, 2004

Barack Obama wrote this book after finishing law school.  It tells the story of his life up to that point, divided into three sections: “Origins” (how his parents met and married and how they separated when he was a baby; his mother’s remarriage and his years in Indonesia; going to high school while living with his maternal grandparents in Hawaii; college; New York); “Chicago” (where he worked as a community organizer), and finally “Kenya” (where he goes to meet his relatives).  I was struck by the honesty with which he recounts his early years.  He was always smart, but not always well-behaved.  In some ways it’s amazing to think, “This man grew up to be President of the United States!”

Speaking for myself, I was most interested in his tales of Indonesia and Kenya, because I doubt that many (if any) other U.S. Presidents have had the opportunities he had to live in other countries, not as a tourist but as someone who belongs there.  (In Indonesia, he learned the language and went to school.  In Kenya, he lived with his relatives, who accepted him wholeheartedly into the family.)  This is a man who has truly had a multi-cultural life.  I was also fascinated by how he learned how to live as a black man in America, despite being raised in a white family.  I don’t think he saw himself as having any choice in the matter.

The book is well-written, although most of the dialog must have been reconstructed from imperfect memories.  Having read it, I would still like to read The Audacity of Hope.

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