Dreams From My Father

Dreams from my father  - Interesting, funny and hard to put down!






Would you like to know more about the US President?

Set prior to his political career, this book gives an insight into Obama.

Plot

Dreams From My Father






Dreams from my father is the early autobiography of President Barack Obama.

It focuses most on his childhood, growing up in different countries and his search for his father. The reader gets a sense of who Barack Obama is before he goes into politics.



Themes

Dreams From My Father

I had no idea that he'd lived in such faraway places; Indonesia, Hawaii.

Suddenly, we have a U.S.A. President who is well travelled, yet, in Chicago, he clears away chairs, washes up the coffee cups & locks up after a badly attended Community meeting which he had instigated.

Amazing! And very surprising! Later, after gaining a law degree from Harvard, he shows integrity by keeping his promise to return to Chicago.

Later, even more surprisingly, the future President has to deal with his lost luggage at the end of his flight from Heathrow to Nairobi.

Yes! I found dreams from my father full of surprises but obviously, much of the enjoyment was based on knowing that he eventually became President.


2.To some extent this book changed my mind about the way I view people, particularly different races in different countries. Obama takes us along with him in his desire to discover who he is & where he wants to be. There were times when he could so easily have gone the wrong way; for instance, his grades go down.

But ultimately, especially after the episode with Regina, he gets closer to knowing who he is & what he wants. It upsets him that the Black people are "Enduring;" "They have a willingness to endure." He wants to help to change that.


By the end of the book, through meeting his African family, he comes to understand his father more through the stories his family tell. To some extent, we all make discoveries & change our minds as we come to a greater understanding through questioning, just as Barack Obama does.


3. Obama does present information in an interesting & insightful way mainly through using the first person singular, but he also does it through sensitive, detailed & descriptive writing. I didn't want to put the book down. We find out so much about him & the kind of person he is, but he also sheds a lot of light not only on his life, but also on attitudes, morals, standards in America, specially in Hawaii, & in Indonesia & Kenya.

The places he visits & lives in & the huge influences he comes under, help to make him the more thoughtful, sensitive & tolerant person he becomes by the end of the book. He is such a contrast to George Bush which is so refreshing. And by the end of the book, we know from his wonderful, descriptive writing, that he is a highly intelligent man, who, inspite of being academically very well qualified, never seems to lose the common touch.

Humour permeates the book along with pathos. Much of the humour is unintended; it's caused by the reader knowing what he becomes. For example, in New York, Page 119, Sadik tells him that the average New Yorker is all out for number one. He then says," Maybe you'll be the exception. In which case, I'll doff my cap to you." I wonder if he has! He is able to laugh at himself, though overall he comes across as a very serious person who needs to sort out who he is & where he fits in in the world. Various people along the way suggest that he should lighten up.

He litters his story with little incidents which interest us & tell us so much about him; for instance when he takes Ruby to the theatre; when he instantly loves his sister; when we see him in Chicago, empowering his co-workers, mostly women; when he invites his extended family & his friends & colleagues to his wedding. And of course, we know that many of them were at his Inauguration. In his book, we are presented with a very thoughtful, amazing character.

4. For me, one of the most wonderful aspects of this book is that Obama tackles debatable issues all the way through the book, through his father, his colour, black people etc. Yet in his thinking, reasoning & questioning, he covers ALL sides of of an issue; sometimes he's scathing about some aspects of the African Americans but then he finds he can account for some of their attitudes.

And without too much effort, he proves his point. He is self deprecating & is aware of his own weaknesses. He eventually, comes to see his father more clearly & thus views him in a better & more understanding light.
It is his ability to study & question incessantly that makes him want to be involved in change. Hence his eventual job as a Community organiser in Chicago.

He doesn't just want to talk about wanting change, he goes in at a grass roots level; "I'll organise Black folks." He will lift them up, get them to work more closely together to improve their standards etc. He often fails but he sticks at it & ultimately returns to Chicago, a man with a mission.

Like?

Dreams From my father


Our Book club liked dreams from my father reviews and gave it 7.5/10.

It sparked some interesting debate about the qualities we saw in Obama in this book and the qualities we thought made an effective leader.




There was some debate as to whether Obama is a dreamer (particularly given it is in the title of his book) , especially with the references that allude to the fact that his wife doesn't know what to make of him at times. Will this be his downfall or the making of him?

I'll certainly follow Obama's Presidency with much more interest as a result of this book.

He shows such loyalty, integrity, sensitivity & warmth for the underdog & indeed for his fellow men & women of whatever colour, race or creed.

It will be interesting to see whether these characteristics can be sustained whilst in power.

He wrote this before making moves into the political arena which made it more interesting. I can't wait to read the follow up.

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