Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is a memoir by Barack Obama. It was first published in 1995 as Obama was preparing to launch his political career in a campaign for Illinois Senate, five years after being elected as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in 1990. The book chronicles the events of Obama's life up until his entry into law school in 1988.
Obama recounts his life up to his enrollment in Harvard Law School. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Obama, Sr. of Kenya, and Ann Dunham of Wichita, Kansas, who had met as students at the University of Hawaii. Obama's parents separated in 1963 and divorced in 1964, when he was two. Obama's father went to Harvard to pursue his Ph.D. in economics. After that, he returned to Kenya to fulfill his promise to his nation. Obama formed an image of his absent father from stories told by his mother and her parents. He saw his father only one more time, in 1971, when Obama Sr. came to Hawaii for a month's visit. The elder Obama died in a car accident in 1982.
After her divorce, Ann Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, a Javanese surveyor from Indonesia who gained financing for graduate work through the East-West Center. The family moved to Jakarta. When Obama was ten, he returned to Hawaii under the care of his grandparents (and later his mother) for the better educational opportunities available there. He was enrolled in the fifth grade at Punahou School, a private college-preparatory school, where he was one of only six black students at the school. Obama attended Punahou School from the 5th grade until his graduation from high school in 1979. Obama writes: "For my grandparents, my admission into Punahou Academy heralded the start of something grand, an elevation in the family status that they took great pains to let everyone know." There he met Ray (Keith Kakugawa), who introduced him to the African-American community.
With the exception of family members and a handful of public figures, Barack Obama is open in the preface about using changed names for privacy reasons and created composite characters to expedite the narrative flow. Some of his acquaintances have publicly admitted their real names, and various researchers have made suggestions as to some figures' real names:
In discussing Dreams from My Father, Toni Morrison, a Nobel Laureate novelist, has called Obama "a writer in my high esteem" and the book "quite extraordinary." She praised
"his ability to reflect on this extraordinary mesh of experiences that he has had, some familiar and some not, and to really meditate on that the way he does, and to set up scenes in narrative structure, dialogue, conversation—all of these things that you don't often see, obviously, in the routine political memoir biography. ... It's unique. It's his. There are no other ones like that."
In an interview for The Daily Beast, the author Philip Roth said he had read Dreams from My Father "with great interests," and commented that he had found it "well done and very persuasive and memorable."
The book "may be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician," wrote Time columnist Joe Klein. In 2008, The Guardian's Rob Woodard wrote that Dreams from My Father "is easily the most honest, daring, and ambitious volume put out by a major US politician in the last 50 years."Michiko Kakutani, the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The New York Times, described it as "the most evocative, lyrical and candid autobiography written by a future president."
Czech: Cesta za sny mého otce : jedna z nejpůsobivějších autobiografických knih o sebepoznání a hledání vlastní identity, translated by Marie Čermáková, Praha : Štrob, Širc & Slovák, (2009), ISBN 978-80-903947-6-6
Danish: Arven fra min far : selvbiografi, Gyldendals Bogklubber, (2009), OCLC488375191
Vietnamese: Những giấc mơ từ cha tôi, translated by Quang Nguyễn, (2008), OCLC317713059
^Knapp, Kevin (July 5, 1995). "Alice Palmer to run for Reynolds' seat". Hyde Park Herald. p. 1. "Talk of who might replace Palmer, assuming she wins the race, has already begun. One front-runner might be Palmer-supporter Barack Obama, an attorney with a background in community organization and voter registration efforts. Obama, who has lived 'in and out' of Hyde Park for 10 years, is currently serving as chairman of the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Obama said that even though the election would be years away, 'I am seriously exploring that campaign.'" Hevrdejs, Judy; Conklin, Mike (July 7, 1995). "Hevrdejs & Conklin INC.". Chicago Tribune. p. 20. Retrieved February 10, 2010. "Polpourri: ... Barack Obama will announce he's running for the state Senate seat occupied by Alice Palmer, who's running for Reynolds' U.S. congressional seat. Obama, who has worked with Palmer, is an attorney at Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland and newly published author of Dreams from My Father." Mitchell, Monica (August 23, 1995). "Son finds inspiration in the dreams of his father". Hyde Park Herald. p. 10.