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Customer Review

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and thought-provoking (But avoid the audiobook.), November 11, 2008
This review is from: The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (Hardcover)
I began reading this book at a friend's house and found it so interesting that I immediately purchased it as an audiobook. However, I quickly realized that I preferred the text version. Though much has been made of Mr. Obama's incredible speaking skills (he even won a Grammy for the audiobook), in my opinion, his words are MUCH better on the page. (Which is, perhaps, saying a lot?)

It's also important to know that the audiobook is pretty seriously abridged. Two chapters have been completely eliminated (criminal, considering the book only has 10 chapters), and the remaining chapters have been condensed, eliminating various details and personal anecdotes. After investing 6+ hours, I'd be annoyed to find that the book I experienced wasn't the same book everyone else experienced. How they convinced the author to do this to his own work, I do not know.

Other reviewers have covered the content of the book, so I won't repeat their efforts here, except to say that Mr. Obama shows a clear talent for (and refreshing respect for) thoughtful problem-assessment. Though he offers few concrete solutions to the problems he discusses, that's not a negative, as it is clearly not his intention to do so. (After all, the book is not subtitled "How to Reclaim the American Dream.") Instead, his essays are presented as substantial food-for-thought (and hopefully fuel for action).

The fact that so many reviewers have complained of the lack of solutions just goes to show how desperately we want them, and how important we think real solutions are. Yet every day, we perpetuate a style of politics and political discourse that doesn't focus on-- or seem able to produce-- real, viable solutions. Mr. Obama's book reminds us that liberal or conservative, the solutions we hope for are not going to magically come about unless we find a new (or perhaps old?) way to talk about, and achieve, what we want.

The thesis of the book is not so much "We need to do this, this and this!!" as it is "Our problems are real but solvable-- if we can manage to think clearly."
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