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View Diary: New book on Obama published by Murdoch's publishing house (72 comments)

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  •  My reaction so far (0+ / 0-)
    I'm only about 80 psges into it, so I hesitate to give any definitive opinions, but it certainly isn't the typical, campaign-authorized hagiography.  (Of course, "Dreams From My Father" is far from the typical autobiography of a politician, too.)

    As far as I've gotten (which is to where he decided to temporarily leave Chicago to go to Harvard Law School), I think it's fairly insightful in portraying both Obama's strengths, and some of his warts.  He clearly has a very strong strain of idealism, which can obviously be traced to his mother, but also got a strong strain of realism from his grandmother (who basically raised him during his mother's frequent absences while living in Indonesia or doing her graduate field work in anthropology), and an even stronger dose of realism during his community organizing work.

    It basically portrays him, in his youth, as somebody who was a bright under-achiever, who was more focused on exploring his questions about his identity (both coming to terms with himself as a black man raised by a white family, and coming to terms with himself as the son of an absent father who he gradually discovered wasn't completely the virtual saint that his mother, to her credit, had painted him as) than on his studies.  (And it also notes that he had the laid-back attitude fostered by Hawaii's climate, which doesn't do much for many people's academic achievement -- which is something that my wife, who lived in Hawaii from 1st through 6th grade, has frequently mentioned to me.)

    One of the more interesting insights, which was hinted at in "Dreams From My Father," but not developed as fully as it is here, is the extent to which his two undergraduate years at Columbia were occupied by an almost monastic dedication to studying some of the great political philosophers and theorists.  My impression is that it's probably fairly unusual for people who have a future in politics to engage in this kind of in-depth reading and study at any point in their lives, and it may be the reason for the depth that I've sensed in Obama, that seems to be very atypical for most politicians.

    But there are several things that his campaign obviously wouldn't like, including a portrayal of someone who can be impatient and somewhat thin-skinned at times, and who had a fascination with Malcolm X as a teen-ager that some people would probably find problematic, although it's something that I think is completely understandable for any young black man during that time -- especially for one who was struggling with questions of his identity.

    "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

    by leevank on Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 03:36:25 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  thanks so much for the partial (0+ / 0-)

      review.  I will read it, Rupert Murdoch be damned.  All you can hope for in these political biographies is that the author is fair and tells the truth as best he knows it.  So many have an agenda and either enhance the loveliness or exaggerate the faults.  I will be satisfied if this book succeeds in giving an objective portrayal of Obama.
       Now if I was writing this book, there would not be one moment in his life where he wasn't absolutely flawless.  hee.

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