Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Obama and Dreams From My Father

It took me 20 days, but I finished Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father. I didn’t read it because he is President of the United States, although that would be a good reason, but I read it because our book club is reading it, and I know how busy the next few months are going to be, so I read ahead during the slower times of summer.

And the trick to finishing it was not allowing myself to read anything else until I had finished – I had a stack of really intriguing books to urge me on. “As soon as I finish, I can read . . . ” Even with all that incentive, Obama’s book is a slog.


He is a gifted orator. He is a plodding writer. There is also a problem I find with autobiographies by anyone – we all fool ourselves, we all position ourselves in a better light, and we have no idea how transparent we are when we do so. Fellow bloggers, do you ever read anything you have written a couple years ago and squirm with embarrassment, or even delete? To be an author is a very very brave thing, when you have a book published, there is no going back, your transgressions are all right out there, and the public can be cruelly critical.

What I liked about the book is Obama-as-Third-Culture-Kid, a man of mixed identity. Most kids who have grown up moving or grown up in different countries from their own, or who have immigrated, can tell you, being an alien is no fun. Obama learns how to adapt, how to look for clues to fitting in, how to pass. It’s a common theme in Third-Culture-Kids.

My favorite part of the book was his return to Kenya, his openness to his African roots, the open-armed love with which his Kenyan half-brothers and sisters welcome him and his response. He had some truly extraordinary adventures, working out just who his father had been as a person. He was blessed to recognize the richness of his inheritance.

The book plods along, but it was worth the time. For all it’s flaws, I find I like that man, and I understand more about where he is coming from. (for grammarians, I understand more about from where the man is coming.) 🙂

August 20, 2009 - Posted by | Africa, Biography, Blogging, Character, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Interconnected, Kenya, Living Conditions, NonFiction, Political Issues, Social Issues


  1. I loved the book. I enjoyed it so much that I also got the audio version. He’s a very gifted writer and I am glad I read it as it is very revealing about his character and background; making me thankful (once again)that I voted for him.

    Comment by Desert Girl | August 20, 2009 | Reply

  2. LOL loved that last sentence you squeezed in there. Is that really more accurate grammatically? Sounds like someone speaking English while thinking in a foreign language. 🙂

    I have huge admiration for him though I did not read his book. He is a brilliant BRILLIANT orator. So charismatic , so gripping… Mashalla. I salute your people for having selected such a man to lead you. 😀

    Comment by 1001Nights | August 20, 2009 | Reply

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed the book, Desert Girl.

    Yeh, 1001, there is this old rule that you are NEVER supposed to end a sentence in a preposition, which is what the first sentence did. Like “Where do you come from?” is gramatically wrong, but do you ever hear anyone say “From where do you come?” Never!

    I admire his courage and his energy, and I believe he has the greater good of all the peoples of the United States in his plans. I believe he will try new ways to build world cooperation, and God knows, we need to stop bullying and find ways to encourage cooperation, IMHO. 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | August 20, 2009 | Reply

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