My grandmother gave me a copy of Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope for Christmas this year. I finally got around to reading it while filming in Fujian last month. In short, at this point I’m probably going to vote for Obama.
First of all, the book is a great read. It’s organized into broadly-titled chapters such as “Values”, “Politics”, “Race”, “The World Beyond Our Borders”, and “Family”, which, despite sounding a bit cheesy, end up being a great way for Obama to present his values and ideas. Most chapters begin with a short vignette from his own experience, and many end by returning to the same vignette or presenting a related one. It probably says something about the way I feel about the current state of politics in the US that I got goose-bumps at the end of quite a few chapters.
What I found so refreshing about this book was Obama’s honesty and, yes, his hope. He writes frankly about the temptations of politics, and how lobbyists and interest groups do get special access to politicians, if not always special consideration. He describes the difficulties facing many minority communities in US cities, admits that the problems can seem intractable, and presents specific steps that he believes can improve the situation. He admits that the reputation of the United States has been damaged, and he outlines steps to improve it.
Perhaps most importantly to me, he comes across as someone who is open about his values, thinks deeply about issues and decisions, and is respectful of the values of others.
My least favorite part of the book was the subtitle. I think “Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream” sounds sort of silly to me, even if may be rather apt.