A major publishing event: an unprecedented look into the life of the woman who most singularly shaped Barack Obama: his mother.
President Obama has written extensively about his father, but little is known about Stanley Ann Dunham, the fiercely independent woman who raised him, the person he credits for, as he says, "what is best in me." Here is the missing piece of the story. Award-winning reporter Janny Scott interviewed nearly 200 of Dunham's friends, colleagues, and relatives (including both her children), and combed through boxes of personal and professional papers, letters to friends, and photo albums, to uncover the full breadth of this woman's inspiring and untraditional life, and to show the remarkable extent to which she shaped the man Obama is today.
Dunham's story moves from Kansas and Washington state to Hawaii and Indonesia. It begins in a time when interracial marriage was still a felony in much of the United States, and culminates in the present, with her son as our president - something she never got to see. It is a poignant look at how character is passed from parent to child, and offers insight into how Obama's destiny was created early, by his mother's extraordinary faith in his gifts and by her unconventional mothering. Finally, it is a heartbreaking story of a woman who died at age 52, before her son would go on to his greatest accomplishments and reflections of what she taught him.
©2011 Janny Scott (P)2011 Penguin
What a woman! I was very impressed with this book. I do not usually read non-fiction. But this was the first book available for Kindle from my local library. I downloaded the Audible version to help hold my attention to the text.
If there were any books that could bring the plight of women to light it is this book. Here we have a woman who had family who were college educated and encouraged their offspring to seek the highest education possible. This woman went to Indonesia to study the poor, especially the women.
Don't think about this book as an extension of the President. She was her own person even before her son was born. It seems she had all the breaks, got to travel and all, but she had the courage of her convictions and goals to help others.
I think many women who read this will see a part of themselves reflected back. Had my mother had the opportunity that Stanley Ann Durham had I think she would have been a happier person. Having a happy, well define parent could only result in happy, well defined children.
Kathleen in FL
Having traveled throughout Indonesia, while paying special attention to cultural aspects of the people (funeral celebrations and so forth) and buying my fair share of local handicrafts, I was thoroughly delighted with this book. I was so impressed with Janny Scott's investigative reporting on Ann Dunham's intellect, interests, travels and anthropology studies that I just bought a copy of Dunham's doctoral thesis, "Surviving Against the Odds". While she may not have been the perfect parent, Ms. Dunham instilled superior values in her two children who have excelled beyond the expectations of most parents for their offspring. The interviews with her children were particularly enlightening and enjoyable. I highly recommend this book. It ended far too soon for me.
I had no idea how educated Barack Obama's mother was. A PhD in Anthropology no less. What an amazing woman. Unconventional, intellectual and dedicated to improving the plight of poor women, especially in Indonesia. I knew she was born in Kansas and died of cancer in her fifties. She was so much more and now I know. And she has an amazing daughter, Maya.
Yes, I may listen to it again. The story was fascinating about a woman born before WWII who manages against many odds to make a career in a male field while raising two bi racial children in racist countries.
It is also an Americana story, life in Kansas and how people move about the country.
And it tells us a lot about Barack Obama and how he got to be who he is? Want to know Barack Obama? Forget D-nish's projections. Read this book
As an American story about a singular person it reminded me of Ron Reagan's My Father At 100. I enjoyed them both and gained a lot of insight.
No, too long, although I would listen to it going from North Carolina to New Jersey. It would make the time fly.
J. Scott's research pieces the details of S. Ann Dunham's life. Her life as a caring, loving mother to two inter-racial children; her hardships as a single mother with an inter-racial child growing up in the 60's in Hawaii & Indonesia; and her devoted research as an anthropologist working in Indonesia. No matter your politics, this is an interesting account of Ann's life that ultimately affected the world and basically changed history. The book has alot of detail about Indonesia and gets technical at times. As a daughter of an Italian mother who left her entire family to move to the US, I remained intrigued by Ann's need to always go back to Indonesia and somehow live a life as someone on the outside looking in.
A three-dimensional portrait of this unusual woman. A tip: through either a production error or a hyper-caffeinated narrator, the reading of this book is much too fast...and I found it annoying. If you listen on your ipod, I suggest going to Settings and changing the speed to Slower. There's a bit of an echo but for me it was less irritating than the ridiculous speed of the reading on 'normal'.
I was a high school history teacher and a physician assistant-retired.
The author reveals that Stanley Ann Dunham had a list of impressive academic credentials, a the determination to help Asian women, an iconoclastic personality, and a deep love for her family. What made Stanley Ann singular was her commitment to prove that a woman's work is sometimes hard on her own family but worth the effort to elevate the status of women all over the world. Her marriages to an African and an Indonesian were motivated by love. Her commitment to her work was driven by passion.
Ann gave up time with her children to carry out her work, as would most men. However, she provided her children with love, vision, and character. Her inability to save money and her spontaneity left her without the funds to have proper cancer therapy and led to her untimely death.
Ann was unique at a time when the women's movement was taking shape and did more than her share to promote women as financial providers for their family. The irony is that she could not do the same for herself.
The author spend a bit too much time on the intricacies of Indonesian cottage industries. However, she did, I feel, capture Ann's humanity, flaws and all.
Hopefully this woman's story will continue to be told in this and in other ways that capture her drive, romanticism and love of people and culture from different nations. I would welcome a different audible reading that is slower with pauses that allow more time to capture the spirit - her spirit, her expansive world's spirit, at the special moments, of which there are many, articulated in this book.
i have only just purchased this audiobook and am looking forward to listening to it. remarkable women are always worth hearing about. thanks to audible dot com for getting this book to us.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.