Book Review: The Audacity of Hope

It isn’t very often that I read a political book. In fact, I can’t even think of any other political books I’ve read off the top of my head. I’m sure there are one or two others, but I tend to stay away because of the depressing nature of politics. It’s a certain cynicism, addressed in this book, that is turning away countless young people from believing their government can do anything other than screw people over. I voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election and his views and accomplishments have given me a hope for political responsibility that I’ve never had before. Because of this, I decided to learn more about Barack Obama and the first step was to read his book The Audacity of Hope.

While The Audacity of Hope is a vessel for Obama’s political views, it is also, at times, a biographical piece, and this is where the book excels. While I can see and agree with his views on healthcare, foreign policy and a number of other key issues, the book really takes hold when he is describing his own hardships as a working father and trying to break into the political scene as a nobody from a poor upbringing. It humanizes him in a way that makes him instantly relatable. For example, I remember a specific story he told where he first met George W. Bush. He had been on a long flight to reach the meeting and when he arrived he spent a great deal of time at the complementary food table because he hadn’t eaten in a long while. He ended up losing track of time and missing his initial opportunity to meet the president. While he was still able to meet the president that day, it speaks volumes about what kind of person he is. Simple things like eating when you’re hungry and being late for a meeting take Obama from being a politician, in my eyes, to being just another guy. Too often are politicians reduced to caricatures to love or to hate, and we forget that they’re human just like us with worries, obligations and responsibilities.

I doubt that this book will change the minds of those who don’t like Barack Obama. But I do think that for those with an open mind, it gives a heartfelt look into the life of a politician, and portrays his view points in a way that you can understand where he is coming from. Perhaps someone else might view this book differently than me, but what I took away from it is that even the president can come from humble upbringings, suffer through hardships, and enjoy a good hamburger every now and again. It’s one thing to be told these things from media outlets, and another entirely to hear it directly from the man himself. For that reason, I think this book is well worth reading.

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