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The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream [Kindle Edition]

Barack Obama
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,036 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In July 2004, Barack Obama electrified the Democratic National Convention with an address that spoke to Americans across the political spectrum. One phrase in particular anchored itself in listeners’ minds, a reminder that for all the discord and struggle to be found in our history as a nation, we have always been guided by a dogged optimism in the future, or what Obama called “the audacity of hope.”

The Audacity of Hope is Barack Obama’s call for a different brand of politics—a politics for those weary of bitter partisanship and alienated by the “endless clash of armies” we see in congress and on the campaign trail; a politics rooted in the faith, inclusiveness, and nobility of spirit at the heart of “our improbable experiment in democracy.” He explores those forces—from the fear of losing to the perpetual need to raise money to the power of the media—that can stifle even the best-intentioned politician. He also writes, with surprising intimacy and self-deprecating humor, about settling in as a senator, seeking to balance the demands of public service and family life, and his own deepening religious commitment.

At the heart of this book is Barack Obama’s vision of how we can move beyond our divisions to tackle concrete problems. He examines the growing economic insecurity of American families, the racial and religious tensions within the body politic, and the transnational threats—from terrorism to pandemic—that gather beyond our shores. And he grapples with the role that faith plays in a democracy—where it is vital and where it must never intrude. Underlying his stories about family, friends, and members of the Senate is a vigorous search for connection: the foundation for a radically hopeful political consensus.

A public servant and a lawyer, a professor and a father, a Christian and a skeptic, and above all a student of history and human nature, Barack Obama has written a book of transforming power. Only by returning to the principles that gave birth to our Constitution, he says, can Americans repair a political process that is broken, and restore to working order a government that has fallen dangerously out of touch with millions of ordinary Americans. Those Americans are out there, he writes—“waiting for Republicans and Democrats to catch up with them.”


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Barack Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father, was a compelling and moving memoir focusing on personal issues of race, identity, and community. With his second book The Audacity of Hope, Obama engages themes raised in his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, shares personal views on faith and values and offers a vision of the future that involves repairing a "political process that is broken" and restoring a government that has fallen out of touch with the people. We had the opportunity to ask Senator Obama a few questions about writing, reading, and politics--see his responses below. --Daphne Durham
20 Second Interview: A Few Words with Barack Obama

Q: How did writing a book that you knew would be read so closely by so many compare to writing your first book, when few people knew who you were?
A: In many ways, Dreams from My Father was harder to write. At that point, I wasn't even sure that I could write a book. And writing the first book really was a process of self-discovery, since it touched on my family and my childhood in a much more intimate way. On the other hand, writing The Audacity of Hope paralleled the work that I do every day--trying to give shape to all the issues that we face as a country, and providing my own personal stamp on them.

Q: What is your writing process like? You have such a busy schedule, how did you find time to write?
A: I'm a night owl, so I usually wrote at night after my Senate day was over, and after my family was asleep--from 9:30 p.m. or so until 1 a.m. I would work off an outline--certain themes or stories that I wanted to tell--and get them down in longhand on a yellow pad. Then I'd edit while typing in what I'd written.

Q: If readers are to come away from The Audacity of Hope with one action item (a New Year's Resolution for 2007, perhaps?), what should it be?
A: Get involved in an issue that you're passionate about. It almost doesn’t matter what it is--improving the school system, developing strategies to wean ourselves off foreign oil, expanding health care for kids. We give too much of our power away, to the professional politicians, to the lobbyists, to cynicism. And our democracy suffers as a result.

Q: You're known for being able to work with people across ideological lines. Is that possible in today's polarized Washington?
A: It is possible. There are a lot of well-meaning people in both political parties. Unfortunately, the political culture tends to emphasize conflict, the media emphasizes conflict, and the structure of our campaigns rewards the negative. I write about these obstacles in chapter 4 of my book, "Politics." When you focus on solving problems instead of scoring political points, and emphasize common sense over ideology, you'd be surprised what can be accomplished. It also helps if you're willing to give other people credit--something politicians have a hard time doing sometimes.

Q: How do you make people passionate about moderate and complex ideas?
A: I think the country recognizes that the challenges we face aren't amenable to sound-bite solutions. People are looking for serious solutions to complex problems. I don't think we need more moderation per se--I think we should be bolder in promoting universal health care, or dealing with global warming. We just need to understand that actually solving these problems won't be easy, and that whatever solutions we come up with will require consensus among groups with divergent interests. That means everybody has to listen, and everybody has to give a little. That's not easy to do.

Q: What has surprised you most about the way Washington works?
A: How little serious debate and deliberation takes place on the floor of the House or the Senate.

Q: You talk about how we have a personal responsibility to educate our children. What small thing can the average parent (or person) do to help improve the educational system in America? What small thing can make a big impact?
A: Nothing has a bigger impact than reading to children early in life. Obviously we all have a personal obligation to turn off the TV and read to our own children; but beyond that, participating in a literacy program, working with parents who themselves may have difficulty reading, helping their children with their literacy skills, can make a huge difference in a child's life.

Q: Do you ever find time to read? What kinds of books do you try to make time for? What is on your nightstand now?
A: Unfortunately, I had very little time to read while I was writing. I'm trying to make up for lost time now. My tastes are pretty eclectic. I just finished Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, a wonderful book. The language just shimmers. I've started Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, which is a great study of Lincoln as a political strategist. I read just about anything by Toni Morrison, E.L. Doctorow, or Philip Roth. And I've got a soft spot for John le Carre.

Q: What inspires you? How do you stay motivated?
A: I'm inspired by the people I meet in my travels--hearing their stories, seeing the hardships they overcome, their fundamental optimism and decency. I'm inspired by the love people have for their children. And I'm inspired by my own children, how full they make my heart. They make me want to work to make the world a little bit better. And they make me want to be a better man.


From Publishers Weekly

Obama reads his own words with the conviction and strength that listeners would expect from the Ilinois Democratic senator. The audacity of his hope echoes in each sentence he speaks as he lays the groundwork for reclaiming the values and inner strength that makes the United States so grand. While Obama is a great public speaker, those same skills could be overwhelming within the confines of an audiobook. Listeners will rejoice that he does not turn this reading opportunity into a six-hour speech. Instead, his cadence, speed and tone work to bring the listener from point to point, building inspiration through provocative thought rather than intense voice and personal charisma. Political inclinations will determine whether Obama's solutions or intentions are valued or disregarded. However, in his sincerest moments, he seizes hold of the problems plaguing the nation while criticizing both sides' failure to grasp the actual problem and to become bogged down in petty politics. He emphasizes the complexity of politics in a pluralist country spread out over millions of square miles. But even in his exploration of the political landscape, he does not hesitate to admit to his own limitations within the system.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 508 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307237702
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (October 17, 2006)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000MAH5O2
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,612 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2,152 of 2,548 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A conservative reviews Senator Obama's latest book .... October 17, 2006
Format:Hardcover
All too often here on Amazon, we review only those books and authors with which we totally agree...or totally disagree...and give little regard to the quality of the actual contents of the book. And then, our fellow Amazon viewers come along and rate our reviews strictly on the basis of their own partisan biases. This is not very helpful.

I set out to read and review Senator Barack Obama's latest book, not because I agree with everything he has to say, but because in some ways, I had respected him because he seemed to be a thoughtful and eloquent American with a compelling story. I give the book 4 stars for style and significance in our culture, but much less for substance.

The Senator has a generally warm and inviting style of communicating that portrays himself as an agent of change in American politics. In terms of writing style, THE AUDACITY OF HOPE is a good, though sometimes "preachy" read; at times, it seems a bit too earnest or striving for political correctness. Obama deserves credit for being able to discuss his values and faith in a manner that is more comfortable than many of his political contemporaries. And, in the book, he does a reasonable job of articulating why and how his faith and values cause him to think and act in the way that he does.

At times, the reader may wonder if he is too ambitious - or even naive. One can respect his energy and commitment to change, even as one firmly disagrees with his policies and plans.

And, I certainly do take issue with some of the Senator's actual policies and worldview that he discusses. His health care plans may sound noble, but they would likely lead to significantly decreased quality and choice for most Americans and soaring taxes and budget deficits...big government at its worst.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new kind of politics--but will he sink or swim? February 14, 2007
By Hugo
Format:Hardcover
In the prologue to THE AUDACITY OF HOPE, Barack Obama sets out his primary goal for this book: "how we might being the process of changing our politics and our civil life." What he means is that political discourse has become like a game, more interested in scoring points off the other side than in working together to sincerely tackle pressing problems. He means that we need "a new kind of politics" that tries to bring the country together, to recreate the shared assumptions that bind us all together as one people.

This is an important idea, and one that Obama makes the case for eloquently. Indeed it is one that has rocketed Barack Obama from an obscure seat in the Illinois state senate into a legitimate candidate for President of the United States. But it is an idea, in the end, for a speech or for an essay--not a book.

THE AUDACITY OF HOPE is very well written, and its readers cannot help but get the sense that Obama is an honest, thoughtful, and highly impressive person. He lays out his thoughts on politics, family, race, faith, opportunity, and "the world beyond our borders." As campaign literature, it is entirely successful. Yet also a word of caution for fans of his previous book: be wary of setting your expectations too high. DREAMS FROM MY FATHER is a genuine achievement, a lasting contribution to American letters. Don't expect that here. There are a fair amount of revealing anecdotes and brilliant turns of phrase in AUDACITY. But for the most part, the book is too unfocused to have the expressive power of DREAMS. Simultaneously, it ranges too broadly to really include a deep or complete treatment of specific issues (Obama leaves no political stone unturned).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All who appreciate politics will enjoy this May 26, 2007
Format:Hardcover
A good friend gave me this book as a Christmas present. While I was not sure if I would enjoy reading the book, I found it a terrific read.

The Audacity of Hope is neither an autobiography or a political manifesto -- while Obama meanders somewhere in the middle, the most accurate description of the book would be a presentation of Barack Obama as a presidential candidate. In his book, Obama discusses issues such as race, religion and politics, foreign and economic policy, and some of the individuals he has met and lessons he has learned on his political rise up through the United States Senate.

Many strengths of The Audacity of Hope coincide with Obama's strengths as a candidate. He is a cogent, articulate communicator, and as such, his book transitions easily from his personal anecdotes to U.S. domestic policy. While his explanations are direct and simple, they sufficiently articulate his policies. Yet perhaps the most refreshing aspect of Obama's rhetoric is that is remains largely free from ad hominem attacks on his political adversaries. He does not spew hatred of his political opponents -- it is as if he is too interested in the policies themselves to fall into the trap of besmirching the character of those who disagree with him. It is this quality of Obama's character which has made him one of the most venerated presidential candidates today.

The weaknesses of this book prove to be more elusive. Obama is a savvy political candidate -- his book contains very few specific statements of what his policies would entail, nor are we allowed to see the entire spectrum of his political views. The same is true of his personal life. This is not a "tell-all" book. Obama is not interested in bringing any skeletons out of the closet, as some autobiographies do.
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More About the Author

Barack Obama was elected President of the United States on November 4, 2008. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.

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