Andrea's Reviews > The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
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Sep 11, 2008

really liked it
Read in September, 2008

I bought this book in April during an unexpectedly long layover at the Houston airport, read half of it, then forced myself to put it down as I was becoming too emotionally invested in the prospect of an Obama presidency and felt that I needed to pace myself, since it was only April and I am frankly still recovering from the political PTSD of November 2004. I picked it up again during another transcontinental trip this past week and determined to finish it this time, hoping to educate myself about the specifics of Obama's political vision so I can volunteer for him more effectively in October. It was easy to polish off--very readable, but substantive enough to merit a cover-to-cover journey. It left me with an arsenal of arguments to deploy the next time anyone claims that Obama is all platitudes and no plan, and it provided some indications of what kind of compromises he would likely pursue if (insha'Allah) he gets elected.

In short, the book confirmed a bunch of things that I already feel about Obama--first, that he has exceptional capacities for (self)-reflection and empathy, two qualities that are essential to just, humane, responsible leadership, and two qualities that have proven elusive at best to the platoon of d-bags who have been at America's helm for the past 7+ years. Second, that he has a measured, working knowledge of history that he draws on routinely to make sense of current dilemmas and debates and to posit logical solutions to supposedly intractable problems. And third, that he is genuinely invested in and skilled at carving out common ground on a whole range of contemporary issues--which I truly admire, since it is more than I can say for myself when faced with even the most benign political arguments at this point, despite my best efforts. The chapter on faith is particularly masterful--Obama's description of his own religious journey is moving and rational; I related to it as a non-believer, but I would imagine a believer could relate as well. Common ground at its best, on a topic that I usually find utterly alienating.

Admittedly, _The Audacity of Hope_ is more _Profiles in Courage_ than _A Theory of Justice_, but whatever, the dude is running for office, and it's pretty heartening that a presidential candidate has taken the time to generate some intellectual capital about American's political system, both as it is and as it should be. Not that I needed convincing.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Anittah (new)

Anittah Woah. Fabulous write-up.


message 2: by Shawn (new)

Shawn Sorensen Do you feel the same after almost a year of his presidency? I'm waiting...all I've seen yet is him somewhat overturn a handful of the policies from the worst president we've ever had. He's a deep, smart person and a great facilitator, but leader? The final mark is what actually gets done on his watch. I think he needs average folks to be as passionate now as they were during his campaign.


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