In one of the worst kept secrets in political publishing history, most informed Americans now know that Obama did not write his 1995 autobiography Dreams from My Father. Hopelessly deadlocked and unable to finish the book he had received a $40,000 advance to produce, Obama turned to Bill Ayers to help him write the volume that would cement his reputation as a first-rate intellectual.
Having already published a number of books himself Ayers was known around Chicago for his writing workshops. Considering their close relationship, it was only natural for Obama to turn to his neighbor and political mentor for assistance. Armed with file folders full of notes and not nearly enough talent to pull it all together, Obama handed them over to Ayers and let him do the rest.
Ayers writing the biography of black man wasn’t nearly as curious as it may seem. As explained by WND writer Jack Cashill, “both grew up in comfortable white households and have struggled to find an identity as black men ever since. Just as Obama resisted ‘the pure and heady breeze of privilege’ to which he was exposed as a child, Ayers too resisted ‘white skin privilege’ or at least tried to. ‘I also thought I was black,’ says Ayers only half-jokingly.”
The result was phenomenal. The book was reviewed by Time Magazine as “the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician” and The Guardian called it “easily the most honest, daring, and ambitious volume put out by a major US politician in the last 50 years.” It played a huge role in putting Obama on the road to Congress and, considering his lack of professional accomplishment elsewhere, without it on his resume it is questionable whether he would ever have been elected President.
A detailed analysis by Cashill shows “the book’s fierce, succinct and tightly coiled social analysis more closely matches the style of Fugitive Days,” Ayers book about his time in the Weather Underground. Ayers has also stated on a number of occasions that he wrote Dreams from My Father and would be happy to “split the royalties” with anyone who could help him prove it.