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A whole shelf full of books from the Obama family

By / December 3, 2009



Barack Obama has been praised for the literary quality of his two books: "Dreams from My Father" (1995) and "The Audacity of Hope" (2006). But does it run in the family? With books from his sister, mother, and one brother soon to be available, we may have a chance to find out.

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The president's half-brother George has a book coming out next month from Simon & Schuster. "Homeland" is co-written with author-journalist Damien Lewis and is expected to tell the story of George Obama's fall into crime and poverty as a teenager, and his later embrace of community organizing and advocacy for the poor.

George's ties with his famous brother are somewhat distant. They never met till 1987 when Barack traveled to Kenya. Most recently, George was in the news earlier this year when he was arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession. (Charges were later dropped.)

Perhaps closer to the president's heart will be the work of the late S. Ann Dunham, his mother.  "Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia," the doctoral dissertation Dunham wrote when she earned her PhD from the University of Hawaii, is being released by Duke University Press tomorrow.

It's not the kind of title that usually draws much attention, particularly not more than 15 years after its completion. But proximity to the White House works wonders when it comes to attracting readers, even when your name is not Obama.

Last April, Obama's half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng sold to Candlewick Press a children's book called "Ladder to the Moon," in which Soetoro-Ng wonders what lessons her 4-year-old daughter might have learned from her grandmother – President Obama and Soetoro-Ng’s mother – had the two been able to meet. The president's brother-in-law Craig Robinson, the Oregon State University men’s basketball coach, also has a book in the pipeline. “A Game of Character” will be published by Gotham Books next April.

Which is not to say that there will not be more books to be filed under "O" for Obama. Don't forget that George is only one of the president's eight half-siblings. Who knows how many more Obama authors there might be?

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor’s book editor. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/MarjorieKehe.

(Chapter & Verse readers are reminded that they can access the Monitor’s Books podcast either at iTunes or by clicking here.)

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