Book Review - "Dreams from My Father" - Barack Obama
I’ll preface this by saying that I love Barack Obama and think he’s the best thing that has happened to this country in a long time – there I’ve said it, you can stop reading now if you have a problem with that.
While I think he’s a phenomenal speaker and I appreciate his writing ability and think his use of language is spot on, I have not been able to get through either of his books! I did better with Dreams from My Father than with The Audacity of Hope, but I still couldn’t finish it.
I started off fine, with the first section “Origins” where he describes growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia, meeting his father, his college years and living in New York. How he wrestles with his racial heritage and the conflicts therein is very interesting and his brief flirtation with Black militancy was fascinating. You can start to see how he grew up into the man he is today.
The second section “Chicago”, however, lost me. I found his narrative of the community organization stuff tedious. I got the people confused, all of his well-intentioned efforts were frustrating (at least as far as I got). So I started skipping around. I read about his meeting Reverend Wright and can completely understand why he chose to establish a relationship with the Reverend and it helps understand why Jeremiah Wright is the way he is. I read about when his Kenyan half-sister Auma visited him, and then I stopped reading that section.
The third section “Kenya” was OK, but by the time I got to it, I was tired of reading this book. I skipped around enough to learn about the complexity of his family in Kenya – where men have several wives and children with al of them. I’m not sure how many half-siblings Obama has on his father’s side but there seems to be a lot of them! There is some beautiful, contemplative writing in this section and you can see how this trip affected him deeply.
I may come back and read the whole thing some day, but for now I recommend it with the caveat that I found a lot of it tedious.