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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan June 10, 2008

Obama didn't write that

An e-mail making the rounds purports to cite quotations from Sen. Barack Obama's memoir, Dreams from My Father . Most of the quotes have to do with Obama's thoughts on race relations and growing up as a black man in America. Many of the quotes are real, though taken out of context and edited for maximum negative effect.

The e-mail was sent to us by 20 PolitiFact readers who said they wanted to know if the claims were true. (For more on the e-mail and a link to its full text, read our article on the e-mail and Obama's book .)

One quote stands out as totally false.

"I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race."

We read the book, and thought this line sounded out of place. To be doubly sure, we purchased an electronic edition of the book via ebooks.com, and searched for the words solace, grievance or animosity. We were not able to find the sentence, or anything close to the sentence, in Obama's book.

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The quote is actually lifted from an article in the American Conservative. Author Steve Sailer wrote a detailed analysis of Dreams from My Father, describing the narrator as "a humor-impaired Holden Caulfield whose preppie angst is fueled by racial regret" but also praising it as "an impressive book" with an "elegant, carefully wrought prose style."

The "grievance" quote comes from the following passage:

"In reality, Obama provides a disturbing test of the best-case scenario of whether America can indeed move beyond race. He inherited his father's penetrating intelligence; was raised mostly by his loving liberal white grandparents in multiracial, laid-back Hawaii, where America's normal race rules never applied; and received a superb private school education. And yet, at least through age 33 when he wrote Dreams from My Father , he found solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against his mother's race."

But those are Sailer's words, not Obama's. It's an arguable point whether it's a fair characterization of the views expressed in Obama's book. The bottom line is an e-mailer somewhere took the sentence, rewrote it, and passed it off as Obama's words. For this reason, we rate this statement Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father (electronic edition purchased via ebooks.com), 1995

The American Conservative, Obama's Identity Crisis , March 26, 2007

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Obama didn't write that

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