Sunday, February 27, 2011

Goodreads Review - The Audacity of Hope

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American DreamThe Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Written just before his campaign for president, the Audacity of Hope is a mixture of declarations of belief and anecdotes of life in the political realm. Much like his ability to give inspiring speeches, Obama has a gift for producing well-written books that are  enjoyable to read.

Overall, it's much more political than I expected. At times the book overwhelmed me by revealing the complexity of government and the divisiveness of politics. Being a moderate that is often turned off by both political parties, I was sometimes taken aback by just how much of a Democrat Obama is. And though he calls for bipartisanship, the examples in the book show how difficult and unusual true bipartisanship really is.

The parts of this book that I enjoyed the most are those parts in which he talks about America outside of Washington; about family life, core values, and a commitment to community. He calls for Americans to find common ground and to take on personal and societal responsibilities. A good excerpt on just that issue:

"That's what empathy does - it calls us all to task, the conservative and the liberal, the powerful and the powerless, the oppressed and the oppressor. We are all shaken out of our complacency. We are all forced beyond our limited vision. No one is exempt from the call to find common ground. Of course, in the end a sense of mutual understanding isn't enough. After all, talk is cheap; like any value, empathy must be acted upon. When I was a community organizer back in the eighties, I would often challenge neighborhood leaders by asking them where they put their time, energy and money. Those are the true tests of what we value, I'd tell them, regardless of what we like to tell ourselves. If we aren't willing to pay a price for our values, if we aren't willing to make some sacrifices in order to realize them, then we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all."

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