Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack ObamaNine years before the Senate campaign that made him one of the most influential and compelling voices in American politics, Barack Obama published this lyrical, unsentimental, and powerfully affecting memoir, which became a #1 New York Times bestseller when it was reissued in 2004. Dreams from My Father tells the story of Obama’s struggle to understand the forces that shaped him as the son of a black African father and white American mother—a struggle that takes him from the American heartland to the ancestral home of his great-aunt in the tiny African village of Alego.
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.
A searching meditation on the meaning of identity in America, Dreams from My Father might be the most revealing portrait we have of a major American leader—a man who is playing, and will play, an increasingly prominent role in healing a fractious and fragmented nation.
Dreams from My Father:: A Story of Race and Inheritance
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Even without knowing the author, this is a very good story, especially in the first half. The trip to Kenya is a bit overdrawn. Knowing the author, I think it gives a good perspective on the origins of Obama's values and insecurities. I think I read this around prior to the election. I remember it was very good about his early years.
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It places the narrative within the history of African American literature and rhetoric and argues that Obama uses the text to create a life story that resonates with central concepts of African American selfhood and black male identity, including double consciousness, invisibility, and black nationalism. Today, this is a different story. This year-old woman, Obama noted, had seen America change from a segregated nation in the early decades of the twentieth century to a nation willing to elect a black American as its president in the twenty-first. This woman was born a slave in the s, struggled her way through the civil war, looked forward to a brighter future during the era of Reconstruction, endured the setbacks of the Jim Crow system, and, toward the end of her life, witnessed civil rights marches and the rise of black militancy. Beware of those who speak of the spiral of history; they are preparing a boomerang. According to the historical trajectory Obama had outlined in his speech on race, the election of an African American to the presidency may be understood as a major step toward fulfilling the promises of the U.
President in The memoir explores the events of Obama's early years in Honolulu and Chicago up until his entry into law school in Obama published the memoir in July , when he was starting his political campaign for Illinois Senate. After Obama won the U. Senate Democratic primary victory in Illinois in , the book was re-published that year.