Review: Hopes & Dreams

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Book Review

According to a Gallup survey taken last month, 94% of Americans queried
said they’d be willing to vote for an African American candidate for
president next year, which leads politicians from both sides to wonder:
Will 2008 be the Year of Obama? 

No matter how you answer that question, you owe it to yourself to learn
about all the candidates first, before you head to the polls.  In
the new biography “Hopes and Dreams: The Story of Barack Obama� by
Steve Dougherty, you’ll read about the charismatic Senator who might
just make history.

When Barack Obama, “an utterly obscure Illinois state senator�, was
tapped to give the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention,
many people were surprised.  One of them was Obama himself. 
Afterward, politicians from both parties hailed it as one of the
greatest keynote speeches in memory, and Americans sat up and took

Barack Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961, the son of a Kenyan
diplomat-student father and a white Kansas-born mother.  When
Obama (whose first name means “blessed� in Swahili) was two years old,
his father moved to New York to pursue further studies.  Obama’s
mother planned to join her husband at a later time but because of
distance, their relationship deteriorated and they divorced.  It
wasn’t until nine years later that young Barack again met the man whose
name he bore, yet

Dougherty claims that Obama never really “knew� the man who was his father until after the elder Obama’s death.

Because of his maternal grandfather’s connections, Barack Obama was
educated at a private Hawaii school and went to college in California,
then to Columbia University.  After graduation from Columbia, he
worked at a series of jobs that made money but didn’t satisfy
him.  Eventually, he began working with a grassroots community
organizer on Chicago’s South Side, a job that offered $10,000 a year
with a $2,000 car allowance and that instilled in him ideals and
viewpoints that now make him Oprah’s close friend, a Grammy Award
winner, a wildly successful author, a paparazzi darling, and –
according to hopefuls – possibly the next President of the United

I liked “Hopes and Dreams: The Story of Barack Obama�, but I wish it
had been a little more neutral and a little less gushing.  While
author and People magazine writer Steve Dougherty’s version of Obama’s
life story is extremely fascinating reading – and the dozens of
pictures are great to see - this book felt more to me like a campaign
piece than a biography. 

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t read it, but that you should read
between the lines if you intend to learn more about the candidate
himself, and not about what others think of him.

Still, because this is the first biography of Obama not written by
Obama, you really should educate yourself by reading this and every
biography on Presidential candidates for ’08.  For just under $10,
“Hopes and Dreams: The Story of Barack Obama� gets my vote as a good
place to start.

Book Details: “Hopes and Dreams: The Story of Barack Obama� by Steve Dougherty

c.2007, Black Dog & Leventhal. $9.95 / $12.95 Canada 128 pages

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