Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dreams of my Father - Book Review

Dreams of my Father
by Barack Obama
Three Rivers Press (2004 edition)

I found this book at the patient library while I was in hospital and decided that I might as well read it and see what all the fuss was about.

Obama tells the story of his parents, their marriage, how he grew up in Hawaii, his time in Indonesia and then at a private school back in Hawaii.

After he graduated from High school he tells how he went to college in California and then went to New York to look for work to bring about change. He did a few jobs in NYC but eventually he took a job in Chicago working as a community organiser. Mostly his work was in the projects trying to organise the locals. He also spent a lot of time trying to get the city council to create jobs in and around the projects in order to get the people off welfare.

The last few chaptes of the book covers Obama's trip to Kenya to meet his relatives before he goes on to attend Harvard Law School. For me this was the most interesting section of the book, as it gave me a look at Obama's extended family, and the interactions between the members. It is also a look inside life in Kenya, and Barack's search to get to know his father. It is also in this section where Barack Obama realizes exactly who he is. Barack forms a fairly strong relationship with his half sister Auma, in spite of the distance and the difficulties which it creates.

This is an interesting book, though certainly Obama's skill as a writer does not match that of his skill as an orator. I found the writing quite dry in places. I also thought that some of the thinking of the young Obama was somehow very mature for a child of that age - perhaps too mature. Either that or Obama is putting an adult slant on his childhood thinking.

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