Monday, January 13, 2014

Obama's Plagiarism

Twenty years ago, Obama scammed his publisher into fronting him money for research. Obama seems to have pocketed the money and simply plagiarized books from another author.
Two of Gallman's books intrigued Glasco: the 1991 memoir, I Dreamed of Africa, later made into a film with Kim Basinger, and the 1994 collection of stories, African Nights. Although the title of the 1991 memoir more closely resembled Obama's, Glasco found a wealth of shared words and concepts in the 1994 book, African Nights. Gallman, for instance, tells the reader of a certain fellow.  "He was a little man with a perennial grin" and a "readiness to obey or volunteer for any work." His "sentences often became tangled in a painful stutter." In Dreams, Obama meets a man just like this: "He was a short, gentle man with a bit of a stutter; he did odd jobs."

On reading sentences like this, the reader has to ask: Did Obama really know such a man, or has he borrowed from Gallman's experience? Any number of distinctive local words and phrases show up in both books: Baobab [a tree], bhang [cannabis], boma [an enclosure], samosa [a fried snack], shamba [a farm field], liana [a vine], tilapia [a fish], kanga [a sheet of fabric], shuka [decorative sashes].

On the fashion front, both books have young women "wrapped" in their kangas and "dressed" in "rags."  The women in both books wear shukas, head shawls, head scarves, goatskins, and balance baskets on heads graced with "laughing smiles."

On the animal front, men in both books spearfish in "ink-black" waters and hunt by torchlight. Elephants are seen "fanning" themselves, birds "trill," insects "buzz," weaver birds "nest," and monkeys "mesmerize." The books share a veritable Noah's ark of additional fauna: crickets, crocodiles, starlings, dragonflies, cattle, lions, sand crabs, vultures, hyenas, "herds of gazelle," and leopards that can hold small animals "in their jaws."

On the flora front, the shared references are just as compelling: roadside palms, yellow grass, red bougainvillaea, pink bougainvillaea, fig trees, shady mango trees, thornbrush, banana leaves, Baobab trees, liana vines, tomatoes. The landscape, occasionally "barren," is rich in "undulating hills" whose "grazing lands" are dotted with the occasional "watering hole." The "mud and dung" houses feature "thatched roofs" "verandas," and "vegetable gardens."

People seem to be carrying "straw mats" everywhere. The stars "glint" and people "waltz" underneath them.  Eyes "glimmer" in the light of "campfires." Children sing in "high-pitched" rhythms, and girls endure "barbaric" circumcisions. Obama, like Gallmannn, travels to the Great Rift Valley and stands at its edge. Both visit the small trading town of Narok.
[L]ike many memoirs, which tend to be self-serving, it now appears that Obama shaped the book less as a factual history of his life than as a great story. A new biography, "Barack Obama: The Story," by David Maraniss, raises questions about the accuracy of the president's account and delivers fresh revelations about his pot-smoking in high school and college and his girlfriends in New York City. 
In his memoir, Obama describes how his grandfather, Hussein Onyango, was imprisoned and tortured by British troops during the fight for Kenyan independence. But that did not happen, according to five associates of Onyango interviewed by Maraniss. Another heroic tale from the memoir about Obama's Indonesian stepfather, Soewarno Martodihardjo, being killed by Dutch soldiers during Indonesia's fight for independence also is inaccurate, according to Maraniss.
 The president explains in his memoir that some of the characters in his book have been combined or compressed. Maraniss provides more details about the extent of that alteration. One of Obama's "African American" classmates was based on Caroline Boss, a white student whose Swiss grandmother was named Regina, according to Maraniss, a Washington Post editor and author who has won a Pulitzer Prize. The president also described breaking up with a white girlfriend due to a "racial chasm that unavoidably separated him from the woman," writes Maraniss. But Obama's next girlfriend in Chicago, an anthropologist, also was white.

The young Obama's lack of playing time on the high school basketball team was due more to his ability than the coach's preference for white players, Maraniss writes. And Obama's mother likely left his father -- not the other way around -- after domestic abuse, note reviews of the book in the Los Angeles Times and Buzzfeed.


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