Book review: ‘Dreams from My Father’ by Barack Obama

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

Elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review and having a truly unique history, Barack Obama was asked by a publisher to share his story, thus this book.

He was born and spent much of his youth in Hawaii. He spent a year in Washington state and several in Indonesia. Obama’s mother was white and married a Kenyon student studying in Hawaii. Shortly after Obama’s birth, his father left Hawaii to pursue a PhD at Harvard. A divorce followed, and Barack met his father only once, when he was about 10 years old, though they did write occasionally.

Barack Obama graduated from Columbia University in New York, and then worked as a community organizer in Chicago. Much of the book deals with the Chicago experience.

Community organizing, it turns out, is about getting people together to stand up for their rights. Landlords, fix your rentals. Remove the asbestos from our building. Put some of the government agencies on the South Side. Shouldn’t our schools have the same resources as the others?

Working with the churches, the organized institution that encompassed the most people, Obama made every effort was made to draw people together to work for their best interests. This was people-to-people, frustrating-phone-call-after-frustrating-call work; are enough people going to come to this meeting to make the presenter’s time worthwhile, etc.? As it turned out, Obama was quite good at it.

Along the way, he made a discovery that helps explain why Chicago is the way it is today. “… gave me the sense that something different was going on …. in the spring of 1987; … an invisible line had been crossed, a blind and ugly corner turned.… the sense that some, if not more, of our boys were slipping beyond rescue…. You got to be scared of somebody who just doesn’t care. Don’t matter how old they are.”

The theme that runs throughout, though, is Obama’s search for an identity, being of mixed race, raised largely by his grandparents, having a father who was almost a myth, not understanding the American black culture or as a youth why some people tried to whiten their skin. What about Kenya and the relatives there? “Dreams from my Father” takes you on Obama’s journey.

For those who dislike Obama, the book will do nothing to change your mind. For those who admire Obama, as I do, the book offers rare insight into the experience of an African-American seeking to make sense of his mixed-race background.

Comments are closed.

  • County Highway W to close in Kendall

    May 14th, 2019
    by

    A segment of County Highway W immediately north of County Highway P in Kendall will be closed effective Wednesday, May 15, for bridge replacement over a branch of the Baraboo River.


    Book review: ‘The Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

    May 9th, 2019
    by

    Guernsey Island is one of the Channel Islands between Great Britain and France. During World War II, it was occupied by the Germans in their attempt to invade Great Britain as part of their effort to gain control of all of Europe.


    Sauk City man dies in Kendall accident

    May 9th, 2019
    by

    A 30-year-old Sauk City man died this afternoon after his vehicle crashed with a semi just east of Kendall, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.


    Book review: ‘The Guise of Another’ by Allen Eskens

    May 2nd, 2019
    by

    James Putnam is killed in traffic accident through no fault of his own. The cause is strange, to say the least, but since its only bearing on the story is the demise of James, whoturns out not to be James, we’ll leave it alone.


    Clifton road closed for bridge replacement

    May 2nd, 2019
    by

    County Highway N, 0.4 mile south of County Highway A and the townsite of Clifton, closed May 1 to enable bridge replacement over the Little Lemonweir River.


  • Kendall police seek information on man who allegedly made inappropriate comments to a juvenile

    April 25th, 2019
    by

    The Kendall Marshal’s Office is looking for your assistance. At 11 a.m. Thursday, April 25, a call was received by the Monroe County Communications Center referencing suspicious activity on the 100 block of W. South Railroad St. in Kendall.


    Book review: ‘How the Light Gets In’ by Louise Penny

    April 25th, 2019
    by

    Inspector Beauvoir is no longer Chief Inspector Gamache’s right-hand man.


    Some common myths about preservation

    April 19th, 2019
    by

    From the Wisconsin Historical Society
    (wisconsinhistory.org) Many myths and bits of misinformation about historic houses and buildings are widely repeated and believed.


    Book review: ‘The Nightingale’ by Kristin Hannah

    April 19th, 2019
    by

    As Germany began to flex its muscles in 1940, France mobilized.


    Monroe County’s special waste cleanup is April 27

    April 19th, 2019
    by

    Monroe County’s “Clean Sweep” special waste cleanup is set for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Monroe County landfill, 20448 Junco Road, Norwalk.


    KVR to offer ‘Curiosity on Mars’

    April 19th, 2019
    by

    As part of its Ralph Nuzum Lecture Series, the Kickapoo Valley Reserve will host “Curiosity on Mars” on Wednesday, April 24, at the KVR Visitor Center.


  • Facebook

  • [Advertisement.]
  • Archives