Dreams From My Father: A Story Of Race And Inheritance

Paperback | August 10, 2004

byBarack Obama

not yet rated|write a review
In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey—first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.


Pictured in lefthand photograph on cover: Habiba Akumu Hussein and Barack Obama, Sr. (President Obama's paternal grandmother and his father as a young boy). Pictured in righthand photograph on cover: Stanley Dunham and Ann Dunham (President Obama's maternal grandfather and his mother as a young girl).

Pricing and Purchase Info

$15.41 online
$21.00 list price (save 26%)
In stock online
Ships free on orders over $25
Prices may vary. why?
Please call ahead to confirm inventory.

From the Publisher

In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has been killed in a car accident. This sud...

From the Jacket

In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father--a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man--has been killed in a car accident. This s...

BARACK OBAMA was elected President of the United States on November 4, 2008. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.

other books by Barack Obama

The Audacity Of Hope: Thoughts On Reclaiming The American Dream
The Audacity Of Hope: Thoughts On Reclaiming The Americ...

Paperback|Nov 6 2007

$15.10 online$22.00list price(save 31%)
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters

Picture Books|Nov 16 2010

$15.10 online$19.99list price(save 24%)
La Audacia De La Esperanza: Reflexiones Sobre Como Restaurar El Sueno Americano
La Audacia De La Esperanza: Reflexiones Sobre Como Rest...

Paperback|Jun 19 2007

$18.69 online$21.00list price(save 11%)
see all books by Barack Obama
Format:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.9 inPublished:August 10, 2004Publisher:Crown/ArchetypeLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1400082773

ISBN - 13:9781400082773

Look for similar items by category:

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lyrical and Poetic Wise and profound, Dreams from my Father is Barack Obama’s 1995 memoir detailing his journey to understand his place as a man of mixed race and the place of the black race, in America. Born to a Kenyan father and white mother and raised by his grandparents in Hawaii, Obama led an adventurous life, later moving with his mother to Indonesia when she remarried. After attending Occidental University in Los Angeles and then transferring to Columbia in New York, he finally ended up in Chicago where he started working as a community organizer in the toughest and poorest neighborhoods on Chicago’s south side. Here one can really see where Obama got his passion for the issues he supports. Haunted by the stories of his father, whom he only met once when he was 10, and fascinated by the issues of the black race, led Obama on an Odyssey to Africa to discover his roots in Kenya. Meeting many sisters and brothers, aunts, uncles and grandparents, these real life characters he met while there are some of the most interesting, strong and most resilient people one could ever hope to encounter, and also showcasing the struggles of the people of Kenya, along with the natural beauty of the African plains. Written by his own hand and in his own voice and at times lyrical and poetic, this book is an in depth look at what made Barack Obama the man he is today. Story **** Readability **** Overall rating ****
Date published: 2010-01-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inspirational and Real I was a bit hesitant to pick this book up, because I was concerned that it may be simply a book written by his PR agent, but it wasn't. It goes through the struggles that Obama had trying to live between the chasm of two worlds, being of mixed race. I think anyone who has felt like they were part of two worlds, yet part of neither and anyone who has grown up in unusual circumstances, will get something out of this book. Obama deals with the paradoxes of his life in a very smart and human way. He talks frankly about the times he felt defeated, and the times he felt like he was soaring. Obama seemed to know that he was destined for greatness, to write such a long autobiography at the age of 33. That is my one criticism of the book - it seems a bit overly-confident to write a book such as this before he became president. Perhaps he somehow just "knew". Despite this, I would recommend reading it. Obama is one of the key figures of our time, and it is nice to know that he is "one of us" with a single mom and a mixed background trying to deal with the struggles, rather than part of some distant elite.
Date published: 2009-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Story Behind the Man This book was written before Obama had aspirations of becoming President. It gives great insight into the life that made Obama the man he is today and why he has the ideas he does about which direction to take the country in and why he may be one of the best presidents the United states has ever had.
Date published: 2009-07-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from DREAMS FROM MY FATHER I read this book shortly after I saw an appearance by Barack Obama on public television. At the same time, I also purchased "The Audacity of Hope", his second book. Since the first book discussed Obama's early life, I decided that it was the first one to be read. This book provides numerous glimpses into a life and a family that was not, by any means, one which could be called normal. Perhaps it was this that gave Obama an edge, and a different perspective on life and government than most people have. Dreams From My Father, though somewhat difficult to follow because of sudden jumps in time, both backwards and forwards, certainly provides the reader with a somewhat intimate knowledge that those who have not read it would not have, and an understanding of a man who is currently president of the United States. "Dreams From My Father" also provides a basis for reading "The Audacity of Hope", in which Obama goes into detail about government and what he feels it could accomplish with the right person in power. Together they reveal much about the man who is currently the most well-known face in the world, and highly respected by many different societies and cultures.
Date published: 2009-05-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I highly recommend this book. The story of what made the current president of the United States, Barack Obama, the man he is today. A good read even for those who are not usually into politics.
Date published: 2009-05-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dreams of my Father by Barack Obama (Book Review) Book Review of Obama’s Dreams from my Father by Annette Dunlea Dreams of my Father: a Story of Race and Inheritance is written by Barack Obama. It is a paperback published by Three Rivers Press and its ISBN is 1400082773. This was written pre 1995, a candid and insightful memoir of the president’s childhood and early career. He discusses his maternal family who reared him and his struggle for identity as a black man in America. The absence of his father from his life left him lonely and isolated but he also received a legacy of a clever Kenyan to emulate. Obama ended up in Chicago as a community organiser. In the second half of the book after his father’s death he travels to Kenya to meet his extended family. He visits his father and grandfather’s graves. It contains deeply touching stories. It is an insightful book and a great read. Reviewed by Annette Dunlea author of Always and Forever and The Honey Trap
Date published: 2009-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Journey of the Heart and Mind Dreams From My Father is both an internal and external journey that is eloquently and sensitively written, a journey that questions cause, motive and effect. From the first moment you are captivated by Obama's narrative voice and what he has to say. This is a life-changing book. You will never think the same way about race, humanity or American society ever again. Not since reading Black Like Me when I was an adolescent has a book had such a profound effect upon my social consciousness.
Date published: 2009-04-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Well Written This is an interesting memoir written by Barack Obama in 1995 (before he was involved in politics). It outlines his youth up until he goes to Harvard law. He talks about his youth, living in Indonesia with his mother and step father, living in Hawaii with his white grandparents, trying to find an identity as a teenager, and tracing the roots of his father back to his family in Kenya. Very interesting and educational - many of the events of the past have so obviously shaped who he is now and his approach to public policy. The most interesting parts of the book were about his relationships with the different members of his family and the people he worked with as a young organizer in Chicago. From his half brothers/sisters from Kenya, to his midwestern cacausian grandparents, to his Indonesian step father, to the African Americans in Chicargo's south side - it became apparent to me that all of these different people, of different backgrounds, races and socio-economic status, all taught Obama important life lessons and have made him the man he is today. This book is intelligent and well written and highly recommended if you are interested in Barack Obama.
Date published: 2009-03-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A terrific book even if you are NOT obsessed with Barack Obama! fascinating memoir that reads like a novel and reveals one man's search for racial, cultural, and personal identity. Wonderfully written, skillfully paced, and surprisingly candid with full-blown characters that live and breathe. Takes you from the author's boyhood in Hawaii and Indonesia to his young adult years on the south side of Chicago to the discovery of his extended family and ancestral roots in Kenya. A terrific book even if you are NOT obsessed with Barack Obama!
Date published: 2009-02-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from okay I found this book very good when talking of his youth and when in chicago but after that I thought the book ran out of steam.
Date published: 2009-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Obama's eloquence on full display Writings of Obama & his life's memories... before politics
Date published: 2008-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from i loved it i found this book absolutely stunning in so many ways, i thought he wrote it in a way that left you wanting more, wanting to know more about his life and the things that lead up to him becoming the person that he is today. i would recommend this book to anybody who is looking for a good read
Date published: 2008-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling, Indelible and Highly Thought- Provoking, The often used term 'broad appeal' would be an infinitive understatement if used to describe the intended readership of this poignant account of Senator Obama’s early years. Irrespective of your position in life; no matter where you live or what culture or religion you embrace; Baracks’ account of his struggles, battles and emersion is the essence of global harmony - for we all are connected. Humanity is the infinitive beneficiary of this remarkable and highly gifted man.
Date published: 2008-01-31

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Preface to the 2004 EditionAlmost a decade has passed since this book was first published. As I mention in the original introduction, the opportunity to write the book came while I was in law school, the result of my election as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. In the wake of some modest publicity, I received an advance from a publisher and went to work with the belief that the story of my family, and my efforts to understand that story, might speak in some way to the fissures of race that have characterized the American experience, as well as the fluid state of identity -- the leaps through time, the collision of cultures -- that mark our modern life.Like most first-time authors, I was filled with hope and despair upon the book’s publication -- hope that the book might succeed beyond my youthful dreams, despair that I had failed to say anything worth saying. The reality fell somewhere in between. The reviews were mildly favorable. People actually showed up at the readings my publisher arranged. The sales were underwhelming. And, after a few months, I went on with the business of my life, certain that my career as an author would be short-lived, but glad to have survived the process with my dignity more or less intact.I had little time for reflection over the next ten years. I ran a voter registration project in the 1992 election cycle, began a civil rights practice, and started teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago. My wife and I bought a house, were blessed with two gorgeous, healthy, and mischievous daughters, and struggled to pay the bills. When a seat in the state legislature opened up in 1996, some friends persuaded me to run for the office, and I won. I had been warned, before taking office, that state politics lacks the glamour of its Washington counterpart; one labors largely in obscurity, mostly on topics that mean a great deal to some but that the average man or woman on the street can safely ignore (the regulation of mobile homes, say, or the tax consequences of farm equipment depreciation). Nonetheless, I found the work satisfying, mostly because the scale of state politics allows for concrete results -- an expansion of health insurance for poor children, or a reform of laws that send innocent men to death row -- within a meaningful time frame. And too, because within the capitol building of a big, industrial state, one sees every day the face of a nation in constant conversation: inner-city mothers and corn and bean farmers, immigrant day laborers alongside suburban investment bankers -- all jostling to be heard, all ready to tell their stories. A few months ago, I won the Democratic nomination for a seat as the U.S. senator from Illinois. It was a difficult race, in a crowded field of well-funded, skilled, and prominent candidates; without organizational backing or personal wealth, a black man with a funny name, I was considered a long shot. And so, when I won a majority of the votes in the Democratic primary, winning in white areas as well as black, in the suburbs as well as Chicago, the reaction that followed echoed the response to my election to the Law Review. Mainstream commentators expressed surprise and genuine hope that my victory signaled a broader change in our racial politics. Within the black community, there was a sense of pride regarding my accomplishment, a pride mingled with frustration that fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education and forty years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we should still be celebrating the possibility (and only the possibility, for I have a tough general election coming up) that I might be the sole African American -- and only the third since Reconstruction -- to serve in the Senate. My family, friends, and I were mildly bewildered by the attention, and constantly aware of the gulf between the hard sheen of media reports and the messy, mundane realities of life as it is truly lived.Just as that spate of publicity prompted my publisher’s interest a decade ago, so has this fresh round of news clippings encouraged the book’s re-publication. For the first time in many years, I’ve pulled out a copy and read a few chapters to see how much my voice may have changed over time. I confess to wincing every so often at a poorly chosen word, a mangled sentence, an expression of emotion that seems indulgent or overly practiced. I have the urge to cut the book by fifty pages or so, possessed as I am with a keener appreciation for brevity. I cannot honestly say, however, that the voice in this book is not mine -- that I would tell the story much differently today than I did ten years ago, even if certain passages have proven to be inconvenient politically, the grist for pundit commentary and opposition research.What has changed, of course, dramatically, decisively, is the context in which the book might now be read. I began writing against a backdrop of Silicon Valley and a booming stock market; the collapse of the Berlin Wall; Mandela -- in slow, sturdy steps -- emerging from prison to lead a country; the signing of peace accords in Oslo. Domestically, our cultural debates -- around guns and abortion and rap lyrics -- seemed so fierce precisely because Bill Clinton’s Third Way, a scaled-back welfare state without grand ambition but without sharp edges, seemed to describe a broad, underlying consensus on bread-and-butter issues, a consensus to which even George W. Bush’s first campaign, with its “compassionate conservatism,” would have to give a nod. Internationally, writers announced the end of history, the ascendance of free markets and liberal democracy, the replacement of old hatreds and wars between nations with virtual communities and battles for market share. And then, on September 11, 2001, the world fractured.It’s beyond my skill as a writer to capture that day, and the days that would follow -- the planes, like specters, vanishing into steel and glass; the slow-motion cascade of the towers crumbling into themselves; the ash-covered figures wandering the streets; the anguish and the fear. Nor do I pretend to understand the stark nihilism that drove the terrorists that day and that drives their brethren still. My powers of empathy, my ability to reach into another’s heart, cannot penetrate the blank stares of those who would murder innocents with abstract, serene satisfaction.What I do know is that history returned that day with a vengeance; that, in fact, as Faulkner reminds us, the past is never dead and buried -- it isn’t even past. This collective history, this past, directly touches my own. Not merely because the bombs of Al Qaeda have marked, with an eerie precision, some of the landscapes of my life -- the buildings and roads and faces of Nairobi, Bali, Manhattan; not merely because, as a consequence of 9/11, my name is an irresistible target of mocking websites from overzealous Republican operatives. But also because the underlying struggle -- between worlds of plenty and worlds of want; between the modern and the ancient; between those who embrace our teeming, colliding, irksome diversity, while still insisting on a set of values that binds us together, and those who would seek, under whatever flag or slogan or sacred text, a certainty and simplification that justifies cruelty toward those not like us -- is the struggle set forth, on a miniature scale, in this book. I know, I have seen, the desperation and disorder of the powerless: how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago’s South Side, how narrow the path is for them between humiliation and untrammeled fury, how easily they slip into violence and despair. I know that the response of the powerful to this disorder -- alternating as it does between a dull complacency and, when the disorder spills out of its proscribed confines, a steady, unthinking application of force, of longer prison sentences and more sophisticated military hardware -- is inadequate to the task. I know that the hardening of lines, the embrace of fundamentalism and tribe, dooms us all.And so what was a more interior, intimate effort on my part, to understand this struggle and to find my place in it, has converged with a broader public debate, a debate in which I am professionally engaged, one that will shape our lives and the lives of our children for many years to come. The policy implications of all this are a topic for another book. Let me end instead on a more personal note. Most of the characters in this book remain a part of my life, albeit in varying degrees -- a function of work, children, geography, and turns of fate.The exception is my mother, whom we lost, with a brutal swiftness, to cancer a few months after this book was published.She had spent the previous ten years doing what she loved. She traveled the world, working in the distant villages of Asia and Africa, helping women buy a sewing machine or a milk cow or an education that might give them a foothold in the world’s economy. She gathered friends from high and low, took long walks, stared at the moon, and foraged through the local markets of Delhi or Marrakesh for some trifle, a scarf or stone carving that would make her laugh or please the eye. She wrote reports, read novels, pestered her children, and dreamed of grandchildren.We saw each other frequently, our bond unbroken. During the writing of this book, she would read the drafts, correcting stories that I had misunderstood, careful not to comment on my characterizations of her but quick to explain or defend the less flattering aspects of my father’s character. She managed her illness with grace and good humor, and she helped my sister and me push on with our lives, despite our dread, our denials, our sudden constrictions of the heart.I think sometimes that had I known she would not survive her illness, I might have written a different book -- less a meditation on the absent parent, more a celebration of the one who was the single constant in my life. In my daughters I see her every day, her joy, her capacity for wonder. I won’t try to describe how deeply I mourn her passing still. I know that she was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known, and that what is best in me I owe to her.

Editorial Reviews

“Provocative . . . Persuasively describes the phenomenon of belonging to two different worlds, and thus belonging to neither.” —New York Times Book Review“Fluidly, calmly, insightfully, Obama guides us straight to the intersection of the most serious questions of identity, class, and race.” —Washington Post Book World“Beautifully crafted . . . moving and candid . . . this book belongs on the shelf beside works like James McBride’s The Color of Water and Gregory Howard Williams’s Life on the Color Line as a tale of living astride America’s racial categories.” —Scott Turow“Obama’s writing is incisive yet forgiving. This is a book worth savoring.” —Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here