Why everyone should read "Dreams from My Father"

During the 2004 Democratic Convention Barack Obama burst onto the US national political scene with a speech that included this line: “I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.” (Click here for full transcript.) Reading Dreams from My Father gives readers an important glimpse of part of that story. This autobiography was originally published in 1995, shortly after Obama became the first black editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. Because it was written before he entered politics, we are given an unusually candid account of his youth and young manhood, which included drugs, personal doubts, and a search for his identity as a black man in America. It is the unusual candor of his writing that leads me to recommend  Dreams From My Father to readers of all colors and political persuasions. In The Audacity of Hope, which was published to support Obama’s run for President, one gains an appreciation for his unique blend of idealism and pragmatism, but Dreams From My Father provides a glimpse into how he became the man who defied the odds to become the first Black President of the United States. As a white American I gained a new appreciation of the inner struggles of Black Americans, but I also got the impression that because Obama was raised by his white mother and grandparents, he has the ability to see past issues of race. This ability is one that our nation sorely needs to move forward in tackling the problems that face people of all races and backgrounds. Watching the crowds on election night I was struck by the joy and hope I saw on the faces of young people, both black and white. I think this book is the sort of book one should share with young people because it speaks to the search for identity that drives many young people. One does not get the sense one is reading the autobiography of a future president. Rather it could be any young man’s story. What about those who voted for McCain and who are afraid that Obama is some sort of left-wing radical? Instead of listening to Rush Limbaugh (and others) I would encourage them to read Obama’s words for themselves.
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