Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Since he delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, Barack Obama has been very much in the news. Today he's one of the most outspoken of the Democrats in the U.S. and he has a brand new book out that discusses today's political climate and changes he thinks the US should make. Reading that book made me go back to find this one, which is very different. It's an autobiography that covers Obama's life before he was in the limelight, ending about ten years ago.
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Barack Obama is the son of a Kenyan man and an American woman. They met while enrolled in graduate school in Hawaii. When their baby was just two years old, they divorced and Barack Obama, Sr., returned to Kenya. His son would see him very little after that. Soon Ann remarried and she and her new husband and the young Barack moved to Jakarta. When he was ten, however, they moved back to Hawaii, where he would be thenceforth be raised by his mother and grandparents. It was while he is the fifth grade that Barack began to realize how different he was from most of his classmates, being of mixed race. It was around the same time that he spent a long period with his father, of about a month. This was a painful period. His father was a very demanding man who really put Barack through his paces, demanding he read works of black literature that were above the boy's head.

Graduating from high school, Barack Obama got a rocky start at Occidental College, where he indulged in drugs and alcohol. But eventually he settled down, enrolling at Columbia. When he graduated he went to live in Chicago, where he became a community activist. Just before he enrolled at Harvard's law school, he decided to take a trip to Kenya to visit the relatives of his father, who had since died.

The review of this Book prepared by Ann Gaines

Barack Obama wrote this memoir over ten years ago before he became the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois. In candid detail Obama shares his story of being raised by a white mother and grandparents in Hawaii while his father lived in Kenya. At the time of Obama's birth in 1961, his parents were enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.   His father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a native of Kenya had left the states and return to Kenya when Obama was only two years old. Obama's mother, Shirley Ann Dunham, of Wichita, Kansas stayed in Hawaii for awhile until she married Obama's stepfather and then was moved to Indonesia until he was ten years old. His mother sent Obama back to Hawaii to live with her parents and it was there under the care of his grandparents his strong character started to form.

Education was emphasized in his family strongly and he went to college, moved to Chicago and took up community organizing in the Altgeld Gardens housing project on the city's South Side. While living in Chicago, Obama began to witness corruption, poverty, and racism and was compelled to make a change. He left Chicago for three years to study law at Harvard University and graduated magna cum laude. Obama returned to Chicago empowered with knowledge of law and pursued to make many changes.

After his father's death and not really knowing his father or his inheritance Obama goes to Kenya to met his African family and learn of his heritage and customs. At the end of the book Barack Obama shares his Keynote Address at the Democratic Convention on July 27, 2004.

The review of this Book prepared by Susan D. Minkalis

Chapter Analysis of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

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Plot & Themes

Political/social rights fight    -   Yes Plotlet:    -   minorities fighting for rights Ethnic/Relig. of subject (inside)    -   Black If this is a culture clash:    -   minority culture living in majority area Ethnic/regional/gender    -   Yes Period of greatest activity?    -   1950+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   politician/elected ruler Ethnicity    -   Black Nationality    -   American


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Midwest    -   Hawaii Africa    -   Yes Kind of Africa:    -   Black Africa Century:    -   1980's-Present

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   challenged    -   thoughtful Pictures/Illustrations?    -   None    -   A lot 11-15 B&W How much dialogue in bio?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   0-25% of book

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