George V. Reilly

Review: Dreams from my Father

Dreams from my Father
Title: Dreams from my Father
Author: Barack Obama
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Copyright: 1995
Pages: 457
Keywords: au­to­bi­og­ra­phy
Reading period: 8-26 March, 2008

This book was originally published, to little acclaim, in 1995 before Obama first ran for public office. His primary claim to fame at that point was that he had been the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. It was reissued in 2004 after his celebrated keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention placed him on the national stage.

Obama is articulate and thoughtful. This excellent memoir tells of his childhood in Hawai’i and Indonesia, his ex­pe­ri­ences as a community organizer in Chicago, and a formative trip to Kenya.

He was raised by his white mother and her parents. He hardly knew his Kenyan father, a village boy turned Harvard-trained economist. Obama met his father only once when he was ten, after his parents separated when he was two. His ill-formed im­pres­sions of his father were sig­nif­i­cant­ly changed by his trip to Kenya, where he learned far more from his half-siblings and extended family.

Obama’s in­tel­li­gence and capacity for self-ex­am­i­na­tion shine through. He is frank about his mistakes and his undirected wandering in his high school and un­der­grad­u­ate years. He talks of his struggle to find an identity, part black, part white, feeling an outsider in both worlds.

The contrast with Emperor C-Minus Augustus could hardly be more stark.

Highly rec­om­mend­ed.

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