Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dreams from My Father: Community organizer par excellence

Dreams from My FatherDreams from My Father by Barack Obama

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes I'm late in reading books that most of my family members and friends have already plowed through (I read this in late 2008). Such is the case with Dreams from My Father. Throughout the book, I kept telling myself that I should have read the book before now...mostly because it's just the type of memoir I'm drawn to.

Obama is a masterful writer. He writes about his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia and his years working as a community organizer in Chicago. Finally, he ends by describing his trip to Kenya to meet his family members after his father had died.

As a lover of both Indonesia and Hawaii, I enjoyed the descriptions of life in both places. As a travel lover, I liked his stories of traveling in Africa and learning more about his family background.

The essence of the story is Obama trying to figure out where he fits in the world. It's more about his father, and trying to understand his father, than about his mother. In fact, Obama says in the prologue (updated with its republication in 2005) that had he known that his mother would die of cancer soon after the book was first published, he would have written a very different book...about the woman who raised him and was present for him throughout his life, instead of about the man who was absent and Obama was trying to understand.

It helped me to understand what experiences made him to be the man he is today, and recalling the way Sarah Palin pilloried him for his job as a community organizer seems even more disrespectful now that I've read the book.

I look forward to reading The Audacity of Hope next. Thanks for lending me the book, Mom, and getting me to read it!

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