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Maryanne Raphael

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· Dorothy Day, A Passion for peace

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Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama
By Maryanne Raphael
Last edited: Saturday, January 12, 2008
Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2008

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Maryanne Raphael

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When he learns his father has died, Barack Obama sets out on a journey to visit his father's home country, in an attempt to get to understand his father and himself.

In Dreams of My Father, Obama wrote of his efforts to understand his family, the leaps through time and the collision of cultures hoping to shine light on the question of idenity and race in America.

He describes the "underlying struggle between worlds of plenty and worlds of want, between modern and ancient cultures."  He admired those "who embrace our teeming, colliding, irksome diversity while insisting on values that bind us together."  And he feared "those who seek under whatever flag or slogan or sacred text to justify cruelty to those not like us."

He struggles to understand the use and abuse of power and his place in it.  He is now engaged in a public debate that will  shape our lives and the lives of our children for many years to come.

Obama said if he had known his mother was dying so young, he would have written less of a meditation of the absent parent and more of a celebration of the one who was the constant in his life. He shares some of the stories his mother and her parents told him when he was a child.

  Both blacks and whites were surprised when they learned that his father was a black African and his mother a white American.

Obama says, "I can embrace my black brothers and sisters whether in this country or in Africa and affirm a common destiny without pretending to speak for all our struggles."

He was born in Hawaii, lived several years in Indonesia, went to highschool in Honolulu and then studied at Columbia University in New  York City.  He was a civil rights lawyer and a community organizer inChicago.

His Aunt Jane whom he had never met called from Kenya to say his father was killed in an auto accident.  His parents had divorced when he was two years old and he had only seen his father for one month when he came to visit Obama and his mother in Hawaii.

Obama went to Kenya hoping to learn more about his dead father.  His half sister Auma and his aunt Zeitumi met him and took him to meet Aunt Jane and other African family members

Family seemed to be everywhere in Kenya and Obama meditating on what exactly is a family.  Sitting on his father's grave he spoke to him. 

When he returned to America, he met and fell in love with Michelle who had been raised on Chicago's south side.

After their engagement, he took her to Kenya to meet his family there.  They married in the United States.

This is an absorbing and moving tale of a man who takes a journey to his father's land and evaluates his father's myth and his own life.

The writing style is exciting.  This is a well-written blend of memoir and history.  The rich narrative and interesting characters keep the reader turning pages.  Obama's senual descriptions make the reader feel he or she is visiting the south side of Chicago, Hawaii, Kenya, Harllem, or Indonesia.  You see the people, hear the music and the voices, taste and smell the food, feel the breeze and smell the ocean.

This is a book I would have enjoyed reading even if it had not b een written by a well-known fascinating man beginning to put his mark on the world..


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Books by
Maryanne Raphael

Along Came A Spider: A Personal Look At Madness

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The Man Who Loved Funerals

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Garden of Hope; Autobiography of a Marriage

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What Mother Teresa Taught Me

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Anais Nin, The Voyage Within Edited by Dr. Eve Jones with a Preface by Dr. Rochelle Lynn Holt

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Dancing On Water

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Saints of Molokai

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