After reading Polanski's autobiography I moved on to Barack Obama's 1995 autobiography "Dreams from My Father". This is a strange book. It is a bit hard to understand why anyone at the time would have thought publishing 442 pages of self-absorbed rambling reflections on family and racial identity by the youthful Obama was a good idea. But of course, in a development which should hearten parents of underachieving children everywhere, the conflicted aimless Obama of this book somehow went on to be elected President.
This book doesn't shed much light on how he did it. The Obama of this book is plagued by self doubts, too willing and able to pick holes in his preferred self image. He wants to be an authentic American black but knows that his mother was white and that he was raised by whites. He wants to be proud of his African blood but is all too aware of all of Africa's failures. The resulting lack of direction and self-confidence would seem to be a big handicap for a politician. Perhaps Obama's later book "The Audacity of Hope" (which I have not read) explains how he resolved his issues and became an effective politician but this book doesn't offer many clues. And the narrow focus makes it hard to get a clear picture of Obama as a whole.
I found the book readable and sporadically interesting. However it is also quite lengthy and seemed cliched at times. It is mostly of interest because Obama went on to be elected President. So unless you are a politics addict or relate to Obama's identity issues I would not recommend this book.
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