Synopses & Reviews
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 Obamas 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 Obamas 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.
"Ilinois's Democratic senator illuminates the constraints of mainstream politics all too well in this sonorous manifesto. Obama (Dreams from My Father) castigates divisive partisanship (especially the Republican brand) and calls for a centrist politics based on broad American values. His own cautious liberalism is a model: he's skeptical of big government and of Republican tax cuts for the rich and Social Security privatization; he's prochoice, but respectful of prolifers; supportive of religion, but not of imposing it. The policy result is a tepid Clintonism, featuring tax credits for the poor, a host of small-bore programs to address everything from worker retraining to teen pregnancy, and a health-care program that resembles Clinton's Hillary-care proposals. On Iraq, he floats a phased but open-ended troop withdrawal. His triangulated positions can seem conflicted: he supports free trade, while deploring its effects on American workers (he opposed the Central American Free Trade Agreement), in the end hoping halfheartedly that more support for education, science and renewable energy will see the economy through the dilemmas of globalization. Obama writes insightfully, with vivid firsthand observations, about politics and the compromises forced on politicians by fund-raising, interest groups, the media and legislative horse-trading. Alas, his muddled, uninspiring proposals bear the stamp of those compromises." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Drawing on his experiences as a senator and lawyer, a professor and father, a Christian and a skeptic, Obama...highlights the boldness of America's original ideas and reminds readers of the importance of keeping them at the forefront of their daily lives." Ebony magazine
"Mr. Obama strives in these pages to ground his policy thinking in simple common sense....That, in itself, is something unusual, not only in these venomous pre-election days, but also in these increasingly polarized and polarizing times." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"It is a mixture of personal memoir and lengthy analyses of public policy options." Chicago Sun-Times
"Obama writes convincingly about race as well as the lofty place the Constitution holds in American life, not always an easy pairing for African Americans." Los Angeles Times
"He is one of the best writers to enter modern politics." Jonathan Alter, Newsweek.com
"The self-portrait is appealing. It presents a man of relative youth yet maturity, a wise observer of the human condition, a figure who possesses perseverance and writing skills that have flashes of grandeur." Gary Hart, New York Times Book Review
"A government that truly represents these Americans that truly serves these Americans will require a different kind of politics. That politics will need to reflect our lives as they are actually lived. It won't be prepackaged, ready to pull off the shelf. It will have to be constructed from the best of our traditions and will have to account for the darker aspects of our past. We will need to understand just how we got to this place, this land of warring factions and tribal hatreds. And we'll need to remind ourselves, despite all our differences, just how much we share: common hopes, common dreams, a bond that will not break."
from The Audacity of Hope
Echoing themes he sounded in his extraordinary keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Senator Barack Obama speaks in this book to Americans of all stripes who are weary of the smallness of U.S.politics today, and who long for something rooted in the faith and decency of the American Dream.
In The Audacity of Hope he draws on his experience as a senator and lawyer, a professor and father, a Christian and a skeptic, to illuminate the greatness of America's original ideals and to remind us how vital it is to keep them before us. Along the way he explores such charged topics as globalization, the notion of American exceptionalism, the function of religion in public life, and the struggle to find a shared language in a nation torn by differences. While sharing his personal views on family, faith, and values, he argues that our very survival depends on finding common ground.
Pundits and voters alike have hailed Senator Obama as a man of uncommon vision in an age of partisan opportunism. The Audacity of Hope is a book of transforming power, a foundation for those who long for a politics that acknowledges the nobility and complexity of our lives.
About the Author
Barack Obama graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991, where he served as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He has worked as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, and law professor. Since 1997, he has represented parts of Chicago's South Side in the Illinois General Assembly, and he is currently the junior U.S. senator from Illinois. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Michelle, and daughters, Malia and Sasha.