State Department Orders ‘Dreams from My Father,’ ‘Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding’ for Embassy in Africa

$80,000 book order includes ‘Nudge’ by Cass Sunstein, ‘The End of Men’

A photo of the book "Dreams from My Father" / AP
March 17, 2014

The State Department placed an eclectic book order for a U.S. embassy in Africa on Friday, including volumes of President Barack Obama’s first autobiography Dreams from My Father and the Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding.

The nearly $80,000 order for the American Embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, will add 1,716 books to its library, ranging from subjects on self help to feminism.

Near the top of the list are four copies of Les Rêves de Mon Père, the French translation of Dreams from My Father, Obama’s first memoir published in 1995 when he was 34 years old. The Audacity of Hope was also ordered.

Nudge: La méthode douce pour inspirer la bonne decision, or "the gentle method to inspire the right decision," by Obama’s former regulatory czar Cass Sunstein was also purchased. The book examines the "libertarian paternalism" philosophy of using government to nudge people into "more rational behavior."

Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil by Timothy Mitchell; Les Panthères Noires, a history of the Black Panther Party by Tom Van Eersel; and Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding: The Complete A-Z Book on Muscle Building, 21st Century Edition by Robert Kennedy, also appear on the list.

The books will be added to the embassy’s American library, which is intended to "promote U.S. culture and value, politics and policies." The library houses more than 5,300 titles in the subjects of "U.S foreign policy, U.S. social and cultural issues, art, management, U.S. history, geography, the economy, human rights, press and media, American studies ... in French and English."

The latest order does include some texts on American history, such as U.S. Constitution for Dummies.

Also purchased were The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, by Hanna Rosin and The New Soft War on Women: How the Myth of Female Ascendance Is Hurting Women, Men-and Our Economy, by Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett.

Rivers and Barnett’s book argues that "an insidious war of subtle biases and barriers is being waged that continues to marginalize women."

Self help books—such as, I Had It All the Time: When Self-Improvement Gives Way to Ecstasy, by Alan H. Cohen, and The Power of Self-Coaching: The Five Essential Steps to Creating the Life You Want, by Joseph J. Luciani—were also added.

The total cost for the books comes to $79,989.68.