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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 ....
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...
Published on October 17, 2006 by ProperGander News (Dr. Emil Sh...

versus
381 of 529 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It feels like the pot calling the kettle black (no pun intended)
Well written, but it feels like there is nothing new presented about politics. If you are from the left side of the spectrum, you will find yourself nodding in agreement with Senator Obama's views, and if you hail from the right side, you will likely be shaking your head throughout most of the book.

There is a lot of apparent chastisement of political parties...
Published on January 18, 2007 by Bryan Lemke


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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
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. Furthermore, given the overall poor performance of government in other programs, do you really want government managing your health care? Another issue: while I do believe there is strong evidence to suggest a change in the earth's climate, Senator Obama and I would disagree on the primary causes and "cures" for this change. I don't believe that cutting taxes for those who pay taxes (aka "the rich") is unfair; I may go so far as to say that Obama's affinity for radical and government-forced redistribution of wealth reeks of socialism (though it's socialism masked by a warm smile). Another point: I don't believe that a "pro-choice" position offers adequate choice for the unborn child; Obama's rhetoric in the book is moderate, but his voting record on abortion is very extreme. And, some of his associations are troubling, particularly with some radicals who seem to have shaped a significant portion of his worldview and helped launch his career.

I do agree with Senator Obama that America must overcome our addiction to foreign oil, though his opposition to many reasonable remedies is curious. I do agree that more emphasis needs to be placed on strengthening families and upholding traditional values; on reducing teen pregnancy and the root causes of poverty. However, it is difficult to align many of Obama's expressed ideas here with the numerous radical and ridiculous statements of Obama's pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright - a man who preached one sermon that inspired the title of this book.

Senator Obama's stated efforts to transcend partisanship are laudable, but it would be helpful if he acknowledged that partisanship is not only the province of "right wing Republicans" but also a staple of many of his Democratic brethren.

In the meantime, whether one is a "conservative" or a "liberal," there is much to gain in terms of insight into one of the most significant individuals on the American political stage today by reading this book.
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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
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).

What AUDACITY fundamentally lacks is a sense of overarching narrative, something that connects all the different things Obama talks about into one idea, one movement. He attempts to find this idea in his call for common ground, for a new kind of politics. But this vision is too vague to sustain the entire book. Consequently, each of the ten chapters more or less stands alone, some being stronger than others. The third chapter on "Our Constitution" is uniformly excellent; Obama's thoughts on "Opportunity" and "Race" are weaker. As a general matter the analysis is always sharp. But it must be said that he is more adept at diagnosing problems than at offering solutions. Obama is at his best when he is telling stories and exhorting readers to chase their dreams and to imagine what is possible, playing to his formidable skills as a literary writer. The book stutters, though, when it comes to concrete policy proposals. For example, his answer to the black ghetto is a federal job program. The gulf between the vastness of our national problems and the smallness of AUDACITY's proffered solutions is large.

To bridge this gulf Obama instead offers us inspiration and dreams: that is, "the audacity of hope." But whose inspiration, and inspiration in what? Inevitably, this "sense of possibility" is drawn to a single source: the author himself, Barack Obama as the receptacle for our collective hopes and collective dreams. Yet there comes a point when hope isn't enough, when dreams clash against reality. And what then, when he is buffeted all around by the storms of fate, will Obama do? Will he sink or will he swim?

This is an open question, and THE AUDACITY OF HOPE, for all its merits, does not provide an answer.

The book is still very much worth reading. For the layperson and the political junkie alike, it is a refreshing look at what an inclusive, common sense politics could be. There are also a few startlingly memorable sections that the reader will not soon forget. Obama relates an anecdote about a reporter who had enjoyed reading his first book: "`I wonder,' she said, `if you can be that interesting in the next one you write.' By which she meant, I wonder if you can be honest now that you are a U.S. senator. I wonder, too, sometimes."

He is. For a serving American politician, that is high praise. Four stars.
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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
By 
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. I should note that as someone with more conservative/libertarian opinions, there are many of Obama's specific policy statements that I disagree with -- his arguments, however, are well-constructed and certainly sincere.

Of course, the objectives behind The Audacity of Hope are not literary, but ultimately political. Obama, a charismatic candidate and apt articulator, shrewdly realizes this medium plays to his strengths. The Audacity of Hope aims to fill the void of Obama's relatively "unknown" status with his best qualities. To that end, the book is a masterpiece.
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381 of 529 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It feels like the pot calling the kettle black (no pun intended), January 18, 2007
By 
Bryan Lemke (St. Johnsbury, Vermont) - See all my reviews
Well written, but it feels like there is nothing new presented about politics. If you are from the left side of the spectrum, you will find yourself nodding in agreement with Senator Obama's views, and if you hail from the right side, you will likely be shaking your head throughout most of the book.

There is a lot of apparent chastisement of political parties in general, but the author specifically cites examples from the republican party. Though I hail from the left, I got frustrated that he would present an argument that would seem like common sense, talk about how we need to centralize our political system, and then rip the republican side apart... doing just the opposite of what he says we need to stop doing!

By the end of the book, it felt more like a political stunt to discredit republicans and get ready for the White House than a book about changing the country. Ironically, I felt more sympathy towards republicans than I felt at the beginning of the book. A nice subtitle to the book would have been "The Audacity of Hope: Why the Republican Party Is Supremely Evil and Powerhungry".

A little less ripping on the republicans and following his own advice to politicians would have netted 4 or 5 stars.
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30 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars But when it comes to practical solutions, not so much, March 8, 2007
By 
Bex (Drums, PA) - See all my reviews
I usually get through a book in a day or two; this book took over a month. I find Senator Obama's style of talking appealing; but he writes exactly as he talks - - - parenthetically. He has a soaring vision of emotional patriotism, freedom, and equality; but when it comes to practical solutions, not so much.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Conversation with Obama about America, June 6, 2007
Obama's first book Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance was written before he went into politics, and reads like a biography - although he brings up certain societal concerns, it is about his journey to discover himself as someone of mixed heritage that grew up without the presence of his father. "The Audacity of Hope" is written after his unlikely ascension to the national stage as a U.S. Senator and speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. It is not nearly as biographical as his first book, with each chapter focused on a certain aspect of our nation ("Republicans and Democrats" about partisanship, "The World Beyond Our Borders" about foreign policy, etc.). It is basically a conversation with Obama about these issues, as he explains his views of what the problems are and some ideas about how they may be approached. Although they are not the focus, personal anecdotes are used throughout the text, and very few portions of the book read like something that could have been generically written by anyone with some knowledge of the issues - Obama's voice and the personal importance of these issues to him easily comes off the page.

In a section of the book in which he explains a conversation he had with Senator Byrd, Obama writes: "He told me I would do well in the Senate but that I shouldn't be in too much of a rush - so many senators today became fixated on the White House, not understanding that in the constitutional design it was the Senate that was supreme, the heart and soul of the Republic." When this book was written, thoughts of Presidential candidacy in 2008 couldn't have been absent from the Senator's mind, and although the book's purpose isn't to make the case for Obama as President, it's hard to read it without sincerely believing he would be a great man for the job. I'd strongly recommend this book for anyone that wants to learn more about why Obama might (or, if you decide so, might not) make a good President, HOWEVER there are several portions of the book that are excellent regardless of your views on the man - the chapter on "Politics" (which explores the process by which and the reasons well-intentioned politicians might become unscrupulous), "Faith" (which discusses the reconciling of this issues and today's politics), and "Our Constitution" in particular.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get to Know the Possible Future President Better, March 29, 2008
By 
A. Richert (Saint Louis, MO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I gave Mr. Barak Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope three stars hoping that people from both sides of the isle would possibly read this review. If you are of a liberal mindset I believe you will find the book to be at least four stars and likely five stars. It is well written and gives some specifics as to how Mr. Obama views the world and how government and its citizens should interact.

For conservative minded people like myself I highly recommend investing the time to read the book. Mr. Obama is likely to be the Democratic candidate for the presidency and stands a decent chance of winning the oval office. It's for this reason that I encourage conservative minded people to read and study what Mr. Obama's views are. The adage of know your adversary is applicable.

The book is broken out by chapters which discuss different topics such as, Faith, Optimism, Foreign Policy and experience, Race, The Constitution, Family as well as several others. Below are several different ideas from throughout the book that I found interesting.

- "Money does matter in education. But there is no denying that the way many public schools are managed poses at least as big a problem as how well they're funded." (pg. 161) I find this argument to be disingenuous. Take for example my home city of St. Louis. The city school system is a disaster. However, the per pupil expenditure is $12,500, which is higher than most of the surrounding suburb systems. More money will not solve this ultra important issue. We already spend more on educating our children than any other country and yet our results are less than encouraging.
- "Business groups may argue that a more unionized workforce will rob the U.S. economy of flexibility and its competitive edge. But it's precisely because of a more competitive global environment that we can expect unionized workers to want to cooperate with employers - so long as they are getting their fair share of higher productivity." (pg. 182) I find this simply either naÔve or a bold face lie. Either way, this isn't the mentality I want from my president. All we have to do is look to the auto unions to see that this statement is not a realistic view. The auto unions, even as the US auto industry is being handed its lunch by the Japanese, refuse to accept meaningful changes to keep our auto companies competitive.
- On page 239-240 he talks about how Robert, a person he was on the campaign trail with in Cairo, Illinois, got up and left an event when he realized that the club they were in did not allow blacks. Mr. Obama says on page 240, "But I don't want to confer on such bigotry a power it no longer possesses. I choose to think about Robert, instead, and the small but difficult gesture he made...". This seams in stark contrast to the fact that we now know his pastor's views and what appears to be the views of Mr. Obama's overall church membership. Yet he continued to stay in this racist church for twenty two years and still refuses to leave.
- "I believe in keeping guns out of our inner cities, and that our leaders must say so in the face of the gun manufacturers" lobby. (pg. 215)

To conclude, I believe Mr. Obama is going to be a worthy adversary for the Republican Party due to his likeability and good communication skills. My view of his strength has been somewhat diminished over the last couple of weeks due to the Reverend Wright controversy but I am not willing to count him out from being a formidable contender and future player in American politics.
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114 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obama Wraps His Personal Journey Around His Political Beliefs With Refreshing Authenticity, October 19, 2006
As the acknowledged rising star of the Democratic Party, Barack Obama has done an admirable job in maintaining the precarious balance between being a media lightning rod and a largely unproven senator out to establish his record. While it may speak to the current vacuity in the party's leadership, Hillary Clinton aside, Obama certainly cannot be underestimated for the political acumen he has displayed during key high-attention moments like his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He wrote an insightful personal memoir over a decade ago before entering politics, "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance", which I read a couple of years back and thought was quite lucidly written if rather guarded in exploring his racial dichotomy.

What came across in his first book was a unique voice, and even though he sticks primarily to politics this time out, his voice remains consistent, at least on the written page, and that's what makes this such a magnetic read. He has a personable way of tackling topics as diverse as foreign policy, religious faith and the U.S. Constitution without the taint of pandering that media-hungry pundits and other politicians seem to enjoy. There is no denying that Obama is an instinctive consensus builder and that quality may have alienated those who label him a centrist. However, we understand the genesis of this commitment through his journey to reconcile his own racial identity. The irony is that in this book, the senator presents a series of policy statements that hold a clarity in purpose lacking among his Democratic brethren while concurrently replicating the successful Republican approach of linking political beliefs to values. The senator's topics are broad-based as noted by the chapter titles - Politics, Opportunity, Faith, Race - but he doesn't lose himself in polemics within the text.

Take for example, the chapter entitled "The World Beyond Our Borders" where Obama intertwines the political history of Indonesia with his own childhood there. This provides a logical springboard to explaining his increasing awareness of U.S. foreign policy and once elected to the Senate, his first trip to Iraq which leads to a broader discussion of Bush's current Iraqi policies. All his chapters start with a personal journey that brings a grounded authenticity to his own policies rather than what could be perceived as naÔve rhapsodizing of what our democratic process should ideally be. Just by reminding us of the value and relevance of the Constitution, Obama already has a jump on most of his colleagues in the Senate. Whether he is seriously considered Presidential material in 2008 (or more likely in 2012) or sinks under the weight of the media hype, this is a most worthwhile insight into Obama, a conscience-raising activist who is admittedly undergoing a gestational period as a political leader on a global scale.
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HOPE EXISTS; AND YOU CAN FIND ONE....EVEN IN HOPELESSNESS, November 29, 2006
By 
In most democracies, whenever politicians bid their time, suspicious electorates watch with apprehension. When they write, readers peruse with caution. These defensive impulses are natural; so as not to be consumed by the fanciful fireworks, which only serve to overshadow a hidden agenda. But, Barack Obama is different. He thrives on a superior realm: diligent, down-to-earth, and true to his word. He is one man who remains tenaciously honest: even to his own political disadvantage. Such men are worth their weights in gold. They are what our contemporary America longs for. But they are rare!
With engaging narrations and indepth analyses, "The Audacity of Hope..." presents a logical and convincing discourse on how the U.S.A. could go about reinventing itself. This book did a good job in uncovering the delicate truths regarding how to go about learning from past mistakes and making amendments. It relentlessly highlighted how best both good ideas and their masterminds could be resourced for the benefit of the American society. Anyone who reads it would agree that it is devoid of any self-serving political interest. Rather, it is a fountain of knowledge and wisdom. Very frank! Most honorable!! And very educative!!!
This book brims with patriotic vision. It is commendable; and truly imbibes all the essential know-how required for the goal of 'Reclaiming the American Dream'. Another brilliant exploit from the esteemed Illinois Senator!
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58 of 80 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Turns out Obama isn't radical... at all, November 4, 2008
By 
After reading Dreams from my Father, which I consider one of the finest political autobiographies ever put to paper, I understandably had some pretty high hopes for this one. Alas, it was not to be. Obviously it's a different kind of book, but somehow I wasn't prepared for the extent of the boilerplate on offer. Take the basic issue positions of any center-left Democrat in the country, write them down in a row, and here's what you'll get. Obama has precisely nothing new or interesting to say here: abortion is bad but making it illegal is worse, religion is a great thing for many people but let's not get crazy with it, we've made a lot of progress on race but not enough, our politics suffer from too much acrimony, and so on. It doesn't matter that it's basically all true; it's just that so many people have already said it that I see no reason why Obama feels the need to say it again.

Interestingly, I think the greatest weakness of the book is what has proven to be Obama's greatest electoral strength: his personal story is interesting but his political story really just isn't. He's a standard Democrat who happens to be a little smarter than usual and a little calmer than usual. There's absolutely nothing scary or radical about this guy.

I would be remiss if I didn't say a few nice things, though. Obama is an extremely talented writer. His gift for words and his emotional honesty, so effective in Dreams from my Father, are on display here as well, even if they are used in the service of not-that-interesting ends. And the fact that he turns out to be just a regular guy means that it's extremely easy to identify with him. When he describes his family or his love for Michelle, Malia, and Sasha, it's instantly believable. His politics aren't exactly electrifying, but he does come across as a genuinely good man. Maybe that isn't such a bad thing.
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