According to Conservapedia's article on William Ayers:

In an October 2008 article in American Thinker, Jack Cashill presented evidence that Ayers ghostwrote Obama's first book, "Dreams From My Father". He based his assertion on a comparison of the writing styles of Bill Ayers' 2001 memoir, Fugitive Days, and Barack Obama's earlier 1995 book, Dreams From My Father, and came to the conclusion that Ayres had ghostwritten Dreams.

In the Cashill article, Who Wrote Dreams From My Father?, Cashill states:

As shall be seen, however, there are only two real possibilities: one is that Obama experienced a near miraculous turnaround in his literary abilities; the second is that he had major editorial help, up to and including a ghostwriter.

Cashill then goes on to list the reasons why he believes Bill Ayers, ghost-wrote "Dreams":

I bought Bill Ayers' 2001 memoir, Fugitive Days, for reasons unrelated to this project. As I discovered, he writes surprisingly well and very much like "Obama." In fact, my first thought was that the two may have shared the same ghostwriter. Unlike Dreams, however, where the high style is intermittent, Fugitive Days is infused with the authorial voice in every sentence. What is more, when Ayers speaks, even off the cuff, he uses a cadence and vocabulary consistent with his memoir. One does not hear any of Dreams in Obama's casual speech.

Cashill then goes on to list a myriad of ways he believes that Obama and Ayers are connected socially, politically, and ideologically.

But Obama claims to barely know Bill Ayers:

This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.

It would seem implied from this statement that Obama has not sought a close relationship with Ayers and thus it is unlikely that he ghost-wrote Obama's book.

Is there any truth or evidence to support Cashill's claim that Obama's book "Dreams From My Father" was written by Bill Ayers?

  • I misread the title at first and thought you were asking if a ghost wrote a book... Doh ;)
    – Ardesco
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 15:53
  • 10
    Asking any question out of "conservipedia" is like asking if the BigFootForums is an impartial source on cryptids... The site is a haven for outright lies and denial of reality (they want to redact the theory of relativity because it's too liberal FFS!).
    – JasonR
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 16:25
  • 2
    @Brightblades And they can't even decide if the theory of relativity is wrong (as in, not true) or bad (as in, helped develop the nuclear bomb).
    – Lagerbaer
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 16:34
  • Ayer's book was pusblished after Obama's, so why not assume Ayer copied Obama?
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 16:58
  • @Lagerbear, I know what you mean! They give "cranks" a bad name even...
    – JasonR
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


There is certainly no hard evidence that Bill Ayers had anything to do with the writing of Dreams from My Father. There isn't much indirect evidence either, unless you agree with Cashill's frankly puerile literary analysis. (One of his arguments it that only former sailors will write about the wind or use ships as metaphors.) There's no way to prove conclusively Ayers didn't work on the book either, but we must test the credibility of the claim based on the evidence there is, not on what some people might want to be true.

A few other elements that should probably be considered.

  • Timing. No one, including Cashill, is claiming Ayers and Obama knew each other in any capacity before 1995, and the book came out in July of that year. While it's not impossible to produce a book that quickly, it would have probably kept the two from doing much else during that time.

  • Motive. In early 1995, when Ayers and Obama would have supposedly been working on the book together, Obama had not yet made his first step into even local politics. So unless Ayers or Obama somehow knew that thirty years later Obama would be running for a federal office where his relationship with a local professor could become a major campaign issue, there's no good reason Ayers wouldn't have just been given a co-author credit.

  • Cashill's credibility. Cashill has made a cottage industry out of doubting every single detail about Barak Obama's biography, always on the flimsiest evidence. Just a couple weeks ago he published a column on WorldNetDaily claiming to have found proof that Barak Obama was photoshopped into photos taken of him with his grandparents in New York City. The claim was so ridiculous that even WorldNetDaily scrubbed the photo claim from the column after a couple days, but you can see the photos Cashill was using here and hear him talking about his discovery in this video. Until Cashill proves any one of his claims correct I don't see much reason to believe anything he says on the subject.

  • "A few other elements that should probably be considered." seems like an appendix, but that is the most important part of your answer. Consider rephrasing. Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 18:14

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