Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia:
The Making of a Global President:
by Dinesh Sharma, Ph.D.
322 pages, Illustrated
Book Review by Kam Williams
“This book is about Obama’s narrative truth—his cultural upbringing, narrative psychology, and transformative leadership. We will examine Obama’s cultural pathway through the life cycle and examine how he resolved the various developmental and psychosocial challenges he confronted…
Why is Obama’s upbringing in Hawai’i and Indonesia relevant for America at this turning point in history? Is there indeed a connection between the personal and the political? I find that there is a remarkable degree of confluence between Obama’s biography and the challenges America faces today”
-Excerpted from the Prologue (pg. xxv) & Chapter 1 (pg. 23)
Barack Obama’s historic run for the presidency spawned a cottage industry of books about him and the First Lady, with several even being published well before the inauguration. Most of the early offerings were merely take-the-money-and-run rip-offs, which is why this critic suggested that theose impatient for a keepsake consider waiting for someone to come up with a worthwhile biography likely to stand the test of time.
Proof that patience is a virtue is Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia, as insightful an assessment of the roots and psyche of the 44th President of the United States as one could ever hope to find. This fascinating analysis of the formative years which made the man was written by Dinesh Sharma, a cultural psychologist who received his Ph.D. from Harvard University.
Dr. Sharma conducted a couple of years’ worth of painstaking research in preparing this opus, venturing to Obama’s hometowns in Indonesia and Hawai’i and to other important ports-of-call to conduct interviews firsthand and to unearth evidence to determine how his subject had truly been imprinted as a child. Among many issues, he tackles such popular questions as whether Obama had attended a Muslim or Christian school in Jakarta (both) and whether he was born in Hawaii (of course).
Sharma found it harder to prove that the President’s parents ever wed. In fact, Barack Obama, Sr. was already married with children when he met Ann Dunham, Jr.’s mom. Womanizing, wife-beating Barack, Sr. takes it on the chin, here, being exposed as both a bit of a blowhard and a deadbeat dad despite his son’s desperate “dreams” and need to place him on a pedestal. Instead, it is the women in Barack, Jr.’s life had the most impact, from his mom, Ann; to his maternal grandmother, Madelyn; to his half-sister, Maya; to his wife, Michelle.
Overall, the author was obviously extremely impressed by what he learned about the President, since he has no reservations about comparing him favorably to such icons as fellow Nobel Peace Prize-winner Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and the fabled King Arthur. For, like those equally-charismatic leaders, he has managed to mesmerize not merely the citizens of this nation, but folks all over the globe, with his inspirational message of hope and change.
An enlightening account of Obama’s boyhood chronicling an amazing transformation from an Indonesian slumdog ordinaire into a planetary prophet for the ages.