Airlift to America by Tom Shachtman
How Barack Obama, Sr., John F. Kennedy, Tom Mboya, and 800 East African Students Changed Their World and Ours

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This is the long-hidden saga of how a handful of Americans and East Africans fought the British colonial government, the U.S. State Department, and segregation to transport to, or support at, U.S. and Canadian universities, between 1959 and 1963, nearly 800 young East African men and women who would go on to change their world and ours. The students supported included Barack Obama Sr., future father of a U.S. president, Wangari Maathai, future Nobel Peace Prize laureate, as well as the nation-builders of post-colonial East Africa -- cabinet ministers, ambassadors, university chancellors, clinic and school founders.  

The airlift was conceived by the unusual partnership of the charismatic, later-assassinated Kenyan Tom Mboya and William X. Scheinman, a young American entrepreneur, with supporting roles played by Jackie Robinson, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  The airlift even had an impact on the 1960 presidential race, as Vice-President Richard Nixon tried to muscle the State Department into funding the project to prevent Senator Jack Kennedy from using his family foundation to do so and reaping the political benefit. 

The book is based on the files of the airlift's sponsor, the African American Students Foundation, untouched for almost fifty years.  


About Tom Shachtman

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Tom Shachtman is an author, filmmaker, and educator.  He has written or co-authored more than thirty books, as well documentaries for ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS, and has taught at major universities.  Publishers Weekly lauded his most recent book, RUMSPRINGA: TO BE OR NOT TO BE AMISH (North Point Press/Farrar Straus) as “not only one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People, but a perceptive snapshot of the larger culture in which they live and move
Published September 15, 2009 by St. Martin's Press. 288 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Nonetheless, the efforts of the AASF proved to be a crucial element in the development of numerous students who would become significant figures in their home nations.

| Read Full Review of Airlift to America: How Barac...

The Washington Post

As Tom Shachtman explains, the private group that brought Obama senior to the States, the African American Students Foundation, was a creature of the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union were rival superpowers and the future of Africa was thought to hang in the balance.

Sep 13 2009 | Read Full Review of Airlift to America: How Barac...

Denver Post

The other is Ken Sanders, a book dealer and amateur detective determined to catch Gilkey, who in the period from 1999 to 2003 stole books valued at $100,000 from dealers around the country.

Oct 11 2009 | Read Full Review of Airlift to America: How Barac...

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