Title: Dreams from my Father
Author: Barack Obama
Page Count/Review Word Count: 446
You might have heard of Mr. Obama before – you know, he’s the president of that country that everyone keeps banging on about. This is his first book, written and released before he even got in to politics, and created at the behest of a publishing company after he became the first black president of the Harvard Law Review.
In many ways, that seems to make the book somehow pure, as though it’s a preserved distilling of the president’s personality when he was a younger man, and it’s pretty easy to see how his early life is still shaping him, even today. In fact, after reading this, I’ve found that it feels as though I know him, as though I could predict how he’ll react in different situations.
But really, that’s not what this book is about – he may be the president now, but that wasn’t always the case, and his book looks back at his early life and examines his feelings towards the father that was never there, his African roots and what being a black American actually means. It’s a fascinating study of race relations in America in the 1970s and 1980s, and what’s more poignant is the fact that while Obama does indeed look at the differences between black people and white people, he eventually concludes that the colour of our skin doesn’t define us.
That’s not to say that he doesn’t face struggles along the way, though – Obama also examines his own biases, and the unintentional way in which we come to judgements all of the time. He himself is guilty of stereotyping, but he tries to correct himself and that in itself is honourable.
Of course, it’s also fascinating to read about his exploits as a kid, and his trips to Kenya and Indonesia, or his work in Chicago trying to make the city a better place before he eventually applied for and was accepted in to Harvard. Turns out that Barack is a pretty good writer, and it shows – it was of a professional quality, with no typos or unnatural sounding sentences. Even the dialogue that he recreates sounds natural and fits perfectly with the character, who are of course real people.
Overall, I’d say that this is well worth a read whether you’re an American or not, and whether or not Obama is still president by the time that you read this. The identity of the author doesn’t really matter – the book speaks for itself, and it has a lot of stuff to say to you, too.