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Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

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The result of the US president election has come out for a period of time, it is the black man Barack Obama. This history-creator suceeded Bush as the US president, and he is now the master of the White House.

 

This book illuminates Barack Obama's journey, the son of a black African father and a white American mother, from a child brought up in one-parent family to the president of United States.

 

This book not only lists all the records Obama made in every turning point of his life journey, but also details the deep analysis of his growing social background and a thorough introduction to the American political party's electoral policy.

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This was an unwanted Christmas present and, notwithstanding the respect and admiration I feel for Obama, I couldn't get into it.

I doubt very much whether I'll go back to it.

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This was a book I received for Christmas as well. I probably wouldn't have bought it for myself, but I really enjoyed it. I found it readable and interesting - and it gave me a lot of insight into the man who wrote it.

 

The first third of the book describes his childhood and what it was like growing up as a black child in a white family and a white neighbourhood. (He was raised by his mother and her parents, who are white Americans), and later on in Indonesia, with the family of his mother's second husband. A well written account of an unusual childhood and worth reading because of that.

 

The second two thirds of the book are when he tells of his life as a young adult, trying to make sense of his identity and race. Some of it deals with his attempts to find where he fitted at university. Mixed with this are accounts of how he tried to find out more about his father, a Nigerian who he had seldom met and how he tried to meet and make sense of a whole other side of his family, still in Nigeria, who he hardly knew.

 

To me, the most fascinating parts of the book were his early working life and early ventures into politics when he worked as a community organiser, trying to improve conditions for people living in one of the poorest, most deprived areas of Chicago. It gives a lot of insight into what he cared most about and how he wanted to go about bringing change and growth to the area.

 

I enjoyed this a lot, and was vastly encouraged to see so many positive qualities and priorities in America's new president.

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Nigeria
It was Kenya, Claire.

 

I'll admit that I was disappointed to be disappointed. I think what happened was that I'd already read the main facts of the biographical background here there and everywhere during the election campaign, and I just couldn't get into the more meditative bits about race and identity, which didn't seem to me to go beyond what has already done by novelists like James Baldwin.

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I've been reading his 2nd book 'The Audacity of Hope', its not really so much of a biography, it's more an analysis of the state of American politics, parts of it were too much immersed in American politics for me to get into, you'd need to follow things over there in a lot more detail than, say, just watching UK news reporting of US matters, but so far the chapters on faith and international relations are very interesting. Best for dipping into rather than reading straight through.

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It was Kenya, Claire.

 

Thank you. As I was typing it I was wondering how sure I was about the country his father came from. More sure than I should have been, clearly!

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I am enthralled by it by this book, particularly by his use of language. Obama has a wonderful skill with words. To me it is amazing to find this in a politician. Even if he wasn't president of the United States, his book would be worth reading for its eloquent description of a extraordinary childhood.

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Obama has a wonderful skill with words.
Am I being cynical? I'd assumed (possibly wrongly) that like many a "celebrity" biography someone else had been paid to write Obama's lifestory up. Can anyone confirm it's really his own words for me, please?

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Now I have finished the book (ashamed to admit I wrote my posting after only reading the childhood section) I tend to agree with you : the beginning and the end of the book is definitety Obama himself. The middle section smells to me like an editor using Obama's script. All that dialogue doesn't ring true to me. BUT in the latest New York Review of Books, Sadie Smith writes a brilliant article (Speaking with tongues) in which she specifically praises Obama for his use of authentic dialogue.

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I've been reading this for my bookgroup and was very doubtful about how, being a Brit, relevant I'd find it. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the first two sections, his childhood and In Chicago but my attention started to wander somewhat 50 pages or so after he got to Kenya. It went on a bit.

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Bit late to the party on this book but I've wanted to read it for a while now. I'm a fan of Obama and kept hearing that this certainly was the better of his two books.

 

I would concur that I was disappointed to be disappointed. The first section, when he talks about himself as a kid growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia was fascinating stuff. I was surprised at how open he was about his thoughts about race. I thought there was plenty of stuff in there that would have had US conservatives absolutely frightened out of their panties. It was very revealing and honest.

 

But the second part - the community organisation part - bored me to tears. Suddenly all that open honesty was gone. I really couldn't have cared less about the finer details of what was wrong with the south side of Chicago and the difficulties of its organisation. What would have interested me is a deeper and fully exploration of what demons and motivations pushed Obama towards such a job and place. And I think it deeply wimps out in this section in telling us those things.

 

The third part was a bit better than the second. I was intrigued to fully consider just what the Obama presidency might have actually meant to those of his 'tribe'. I kind of assumed the answer to that was 'very little' and those images that one might have seen from Kenya when he was elected were just manufactured moments to serve a hungry television audience. But given what you learn about African and Kenyan familial relationships, you can see that perhaps they feel that they 'own' those moments more than anyone outside of Africa would ever realise.

 

His Kenyan family history certain is a bit complicated. Multiple wives, the odd half-brother floating here and there, slightly despotic grandfathers, etc... It must have felt quite strange to suddenly be in a place where you suddenly have a history that is so tangible to you. Obama certainly mentions this, but I don't think he really fully ventures into the revelation fully. Again - I feel like he's holding something back, and the book ends all a bit wishy washy for me.

 

The prose itself is quite good. It's quite easy with the occasional moment of real skill, esp. in the first part when he talks about his idea of power and race. So overall, worth a read but could have been better.

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