Barack Obama, The Aloha Zen President
How a Son of the 50th State May Revitalize America Based on 12 Multicultural Principles
by Michael Haas, Editor
January 2011, 436pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39402-7
$75, £58, 66€, A103
Paperback: 978-1-4408-3586-5
$45, £35, 40€, A62
eBook Available: 978-0-313-39403-4
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

President Barack Obama has said, “There is no doubt that the residue of Hawai‘i will always stay with me, that it is part of my core, and that what’s best in me, and what’s best in my message, is consistent with the tradition of Hawai‘i.” Indeed, there are numerous links between the culture of Hawai‘i and Obama’s beliefs, career, personality, politics, philosophy, and temperament.

With a foreword written by former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, this book portrays President Barack Obama as a true child of Hawai'i and explains why he believes that America can achieve even more greatness by learning from the multicultural customs of the 50th state.

Obama’s aspiration to transform the United States using Hawai‘i as his model has been a conspicuous theme in his books and speeches over the years. In them, he extols Hawai‘i’s multicultural ethos, describing how a normative, problem-solving mindset predicated on mutual respect and harmonious interchange is inculcated in the culture, politics, and society of the Islands. Indeed, this “Aloha Spirit” is imbued in Barack Obama, is part of what made him irresistibly charismatic as a candidate, and explains why voters in 2010 were baffled at his demeanor after he became the 44th President of the United States.

This unique book examines Obama’s decisions as an adult and as president and exposes how they are directly linked to the culture of Hawai‘i and Obama’s multicultural life as a child. The author and contributors also describe the ways in which native Hawaiians were dispossessed of their sovereignty and their land, how they steadfastly sought justice, and how their quest served as a model for Obama’s mobilization of support for his candidacy.


  • Provides connections between quotes from President Barack Obama to his philosophy and temperament throughout the book
  • Supplies a comprehensive look at the multiculturalism of Hawai‘i and ties these characteristics to Obama's career and political decision-making
  • Includes a reprint of the text of the Aloha Spirit Law, which guides governmental decisions in Hawai‘i with the force of law
  • Identifies how Obama's presidency is unlike any other as a result of his multicultural experiences as a child of Hawai‘i, and why he is compelled to bring his humanity, idealism, and strong belief in American values to the entire country
Michael Haas, PhD, is the author of more than 30 books on politics and international relations, including Multicultural Hawaii: The Fabric of a Multiethnic Society and International Human Rights: A Comprehensive Introduction. He has taught at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA; Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; the University of California, Riverside, CA; and the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI. Internationally, Haas has been associated with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore; the University of London; the University of the Philippines; and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, in Bangkok. He has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.


"About a dozen Hawaiian academics provide a brief glimpse of the political and cultural growth of the president during his youth and early adulthood. Useful for general readers and beginning explorations into the topic of political culture. Summing Up: Recommended."—Choice, July 1, 2011

"From the election of the nation's first non-white governor to its guaranteed health care plan to the Aloha spirit of friendly calm, Hawai‘i has shaped Barack Obama. His presidency cannot be understood without a better knowledge of the 50th state. This insightful and surprising book is the perfect place to begin."—Jonathan Alter, Author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One; Newsweek Journalist; MSNBC Commentator

“This volume is different from all the others written about the president. It casts a new light on his background, values, motives, and policies.”—Amitai Etzioni, author of New Common Ground: A New America, A New World (2009) and Director, Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, George Washington University
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