Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President

Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President

Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President

Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President


The first 18 years of President Obama's life, from his birth in 1961 to his departure for college in 1979, were spent in Hawai'i and Indonesia. These years fundamentally shaped the traits for which the adult Obama is noted-his protean identity, his nuanced appreciation of multiple views of the same object, his cosmopolitan breadth of view, and his self-rooted "outpost" patriotism. Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President is the first study to examine, in fascinating detail, how his early years impacted this unique leader.

Existing biographies of President Obama are primarily political treatments. Here, cross-cultural psychologist and marketing consultant Dinesh Sharma explores the connections between Obama's early upbringing and his adult views of civil society, secular Islam, and globalization. The book draws on the author's on-the-ground research and extensive first-hand interviews in Jakarta; Honolulu; New York; Washington, DC; and Chicago to evaluate the multicultural inputs to Obama's character and the ways in which they prepared him to meet the challenges of world leadership in the 21st century.


Barack Obama is a sign of the changing times, a product of globalization spurred by American power, free-market capitalism, and a unique form of multiculturalism. I didn’t realize how true or valid this statement really was until I started to research the childhood and adolescence of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States. As the historian Douglas Brinkley has said, “Obama came of age, really, after the Cold War, with the Internet being the transformative engine of society, and he now takes his multicultural heritage and the geographical diversity of his upbringing to the world” (Raasch 2009). Writing this book gave me an opportunity to learn about the changing nature of American society, politics, and culture.

Despite the risks and trepidation involved in writing a book about a current president, I feel a sense of cautious optimism about the American experiment, what Ronald Reagan called a unique “rendezvous with destiny” begun in the first half of the 20th century (AEI 2009), which is now a global phenomenon touching the lives of virtually every citizen on the planet. in chronicling the early years of Barack Obama, I hope to share some incredible stories, pivotal events, and important insights at the intersection of biography and history, culture and globalization, and race and politics. As we look over the horizon, Barack Obama’s globe-trotting and diverse formative years in Hawai’i and Indonesia, the central focus of this book, signal the beginning of an interconnected and global world, where America’s emerging role in shaping the 21st century is still evolving. Obama’s biography, at least for the near future, has become intertwined with this nation’s destiny. Given, as Shakespeare said, “what’s past is prologue,” a quotation also engraved at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., we might be able to glean some insights about our collective future by peering into Obama’s early years.

When I first learned of Barack Hussein Obama, it was a revelation to me that a candidate with a name derived from Swahili and Arabic, an African American identity, and a biracial mulatto complexion could be elected the president of the United States. At a dinner meeting in New York City, attended by well-connected fnancial consultants and lawyers, I met one of Obama’s classmates from Harvard Law School. This was . . .

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