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"Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia" at Educator's Week at B&N, Edison, NJ, Tues, Oct 18, 6PM

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"Compelling and original....Offers a unique psychological and sociological lens on the ascendancy of a young African-American boy to become the leader of the most powerful country in the world." --Dr. Judy Kuriansky, Clinical Psychologist, Columbia University, and Author

"Fascinating....In the complex and multi-cultural identity that is Barack Obama, Americans may find new clues about who they are and what America itself may become in the 21st century."  --Dan P. McAdams, Professor and Department Head of Psychology, Northwestern University, Author of George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream      

"Sharma's volume trumps all others".The analytic lines of the book run deep and the narratives moves into a level of artistic brilliance." --Lawrence J. Friedman, Professor, Mind-Brain-Behavior Initiative, Harvard University


How did a young, rookie Illinois senator, with a name derived from Swahili and Arabic, an African-American identity, and a biracial heritage, achieve the ultimate American dream: growing up to be President? To millions of Americans, including many who voted for him, the landmark election of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of United States remains a revelation. Much has been written about Obama's mastery of the Internet, his victory for racial equality, and his charisma. Yet, the exceptional qualities that distinguish Barack Obama as a leader for our changing times--his multicultural roots and his international sensibilities--have been largely overlooked.  
"Barack Obama is born of a multicultural America at the cusp of the age of globalization," states Dinesh Sharma, cultural psychologist. "He is truly America's hybrid president, a man of many continents, races, cultures, and histories." In his new book, Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President (Praeger; September 30, 2011), Sharma presents the first cultural biography of a trailblazing, transformational leader--not only the first Black president in America, but also the first multicul ?tural head of state of any Western democracy. Drawing on extensive research in the fields of psychology, anthropology, education and on the ground interviews in Jakarta, Honolulu, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Sharma reveals, in riveting detail, how Obama's rare multicultural upbringing shaped his character and his worldview, preparing him to meet the challenges of leadership--from demographic changes at home to rising competition from Asia to the perceived threat of radical Islam--in the global 21st century. "Obama has charted a new course for America, backed heavily by his own biography," the author attests.

Informed by newly gathered insights from people who knew Barack when he was known as Barry (including his half-Indonesian sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and his teachers in Jakarta, where he attended both Islamic Public and Catholic schools, as well as at the Punahou School in Honolulu), Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia offers a chronological and psychosocial journey of Obama's development as a globally-minded individual and political leader. Chapters shed light on:                   

The legacy of his parents' short-lived marriage, with new insights into how his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, a white anthropologist and humanitarian from Kansas, idealized the native Kenyan father, Barack Obama, Senior, who abandoned him. Ann instilled young Barry with a sense of moral privilege as a black man and the steely determination to achieve greatness, including the impetus to be the first Black President.             

The women who shaped Obama: his mother, Ann; his grandmother, Madelyn; and his wife, Michelle. His mother's multicultural consciousness and progressive idealism, his grandmother's Midwestern pragmatism, and his wife's strength and understanding of the African-American experience all contributed to the making of President Obama. The Dunham women gave Obama a head start in life, intellectually, socially, and emotionally, which Michelle Obama first recognized as presidential timber.     

The impact of  his early global education, until age ten, in Jakarta, where Obama lived on the "Islamic street" with colorful characters in his house, including a gay cook, and came to see how different religions, particularly Islam and Christianity, could live side by side. Facing abysmal poverty, he came to recognize the positive force of industrialized, developed economies on the lives of people in the developing world.  

The truth behind allegations that Obama is a Muslim. While living in the largest Islamic democracy, Indonesia, Obama did not convert to Islam or go through any rite of passage or ritual circumcision; neither was he adopted by his Indonesian, secular Muslim stepfather.  However, in third grade, when he was nine years old, Obama wrote an essay about his dream to be president one day and used to imitate the Indonesian President Suharto. 

Obama's apprenticeship in becoming a leader at the Punahou School. Sheltered from the negative stereotypes of Black men on the mainland, but still a minority in Hawai'i, Obama began to search for his own identity while learning to navigate different cultural worlds with ease. With its emphasis on community service and moral accountability, this elite preparatory school also planted the seeds for Obama's career in public service and opened his mind to the "magical' power of words in moving people to political action.      

The circumstances surrounding the death of his long-lost father and the ensuing autobiography, "Dreams from My Father".  Sharma delves into Obama's haunting dreams, where his father is in a jail and Obama is trying to get him out.  These dreams reverberate throughout his life story and political identity and make him, along with many other fatherless presidents from George Washington to Bill Clinton who raised themselves by their bootstraps, an American archetype.    

In the final chapters, Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia delves into Obama's transition to the mainland, the affirmation of his African-American identity in New York and Chicago, and his calling as a global leader. As Sharma makes clear, Obama's multicultural childhood and adolescence strongly influenced the formation of his character and values, his approach to global issues as President, and his vision for America.          

Title: BARACK OBAMA IN HAWAI'I AND INDONESIA: The Making of a Global President  
Author: Dinesh Sharma  
Release date: September 30, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-313-38533-9
Publisher:   Praeger, an imprint of ABC-CLIO
*Also available as an eBook.


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Dinesh Sharma is a marketing science consultant with a Doctorate in Psychology from Harvard. He is a senior fellow at Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Research, St Francis College, NYC, and a regular columnist for Asia Times Online. (more...)
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