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Dreams from my father : a story of race and inheritance /

Main Author: Obama, Barack.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Times Books, 1995
Edition: 1st ed.
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Review by Choice Review

Obama is only 33, which may seem rather young to write a memoir. But this son of a mixed marriage offers an account of his life's journey that reflects brilliantly on the power of race consciousness in America. His mother, a white woman from Kansas, and his father, a black African student, met in Hawaii; their marriage propelled Obama on a long search for personal identity in a world shaped by racial divisions. Along the way he achieved a good deal, graduating from Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review. In recent years he has practiced civil rights law in Chicago and worked as a community organizer. He also developed much wisdom about racial struggle, the strength of family ties, the power of forgiveness, and the power of people to bind together in the face of adversity. Obama writes well; his account is sensitive, probing, and compelling. This book is appropriate for general readers and for academic libraries supporting African American studies or studies of modern American culture. R. Detweiler; California State University, Dominguez Hills

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Obama argues with himself on almost every page of this lively autobiographical conversation. He gets you to agree with him, and then he brings in a counternarrative that seems just as convincing. Son of a white American mother and of a black Kenyan father whom he never knew, Obama grew up mainly in Hawaii. After college, he worked for three years as a community organizer on Chicago's South Side. Then, finally, he went to Kenya, to find the world of his dead father, his "authentic" self. Will the truth set you free, Obama asks? Or will it disappoint? Both, it seems. His search for himself as a black American is rooted in the particulars of his daily life; it also reads like a wry commentary about all of us. He dismisses stereotypes of the "tragic mulatto" and then shows how much we are all caught between messy contradictions and disparate communities. He discovers that Kenya has 400 different tribes, each of them with stereotypes of the others. Obama is candid about racism and poverty and corruption, in Chicago and in Kenya. Yet he does find community and authenticity, not in any romantic cliche{{‚}}, but with "honest, decent men and women who have attainable ambitions and the determination to see them through." (Reviewed July 1995)081292343XHazel Rochman

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, Obama was offered a book contract, but the intellectual journey he planned to recount became instead this poignant, probing memoir of an unusual life. Born in 1961 to a white American woman and a black Kenyan student, Obama was reared in Hawaii by his mother and her parents, his father having left for further study and a return home to Africa. So Obama's not-unhappy youth is nevertheless a lonely voyage to racial identity, tensions in school, struggling with black literature‘with one month-long visit when he was 10 from his commanding father. After college, Obama became a community organizer in Chicago. He slowly found place and purpose among folks of similar hue but different memory, winning enough small victories to commit himself to the work‘he's now a civil rights lawyer there. Before going to law school, he finally visited Kenya; with his father dead, he still confronted obligation and loss, and found wellsprings of love and attachment. Obama leaves some lingering questions‘his mother is virtually absent‘but still has written a resonant book. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

An honest, often poetic memoir about growing up biracial. Obama was the son of a Kenyan student at the University of Hawaii and a white woman, the daughter of transplanted Kansans. Their marriage broke up after Barack Obama Sr. left Hawaii in 1963 to pursue a Ph.D. at Harvard; he died in a car accident in Kenya in 1982, when his son was 21. The author met his father only once, when he was ten years old, and this encounter with a stranger did not resolve his emotional confusion about his identity. ``I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America, and beyond the given of my appearance, no one around me seemed to know what that meant,'' writes Obama. He turned to books by Ralph Ellison and Langston Hughes and to neighborhood basketball courts, where he bonded with older black men. Obama records his interior struggle with precision and clarity as he confronts racism (a high school basketball coach calls a group of black men ``niggers'') while maintaining love for his white relatives. He turns to drugs and alcohol to dull his confusion, but finally realizes that his identity as a black man in America must be a path he creates for himself. Subsequently, while a student at Columbia University, he learns of his father's death just after they have made plans for him to visit Kenya. The unresolved nature of their relationship gnaws at him even after he moves to Chicago, where he practices civil rights law. A pilgrimage to Kenya to meet siblings from his father's two other marriages finally enables him to put his demons to rest. At its best, despite an occasional lack of analysis, this affecting study of self-definition perceptively reminds us that the dilemmas of race generally express themselves in terms of individual human struggles. (author tour)

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.