Friday, February 09, 2007

The Audacity of Hope

I blogged the other day about my long, long trip to Florida via Chicago and the weather associated delays. On the plus side, the delays gave me a chance to finish reading Barrack Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope. Seemed fitting, since he's the junior Senator for Illinois.

Books by politicians are often unreadable, perhaps that's my bias as a writer myself, but Obama is actually a good writer...or he had a good ghost writer. Either way, it was a very easy read that flowed well, and was a much faster read that William Johnson's Harper bio.

Obama's book is partly autobiographical, he touches on growing up in Malaysia and Hawaii, working as a community organizer in Chicago, serving in the state house and running for Senate, and meeting his wife and his family life with his daughters. But rather than simply recounting his bio, these details are always grounded in the greater context of how he formulated his ideals and policy beliefs. For example, he relates his experiences as an ex-pat child in Malaysia to American foreign policy from the Cold War through today.

The main purpose of the book is to layout Obama's vision for the United States, both foreign and domestic. The chapters are broken down to cover the major broad themes facing the U.S., from race relations and faith to values, politics and the ongoing battle between Democrats and Republicans.

The cynics will say Obama, now gearing up for a presidential bid, steered a middle course in the book to appeal as a moderate to both sides in a presidential race. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed the book, we Liberals are great fence sitters.

But I think those critics would be part of what's wrong with politics today; despite the mugging of politicians for the cameras and the attempts to paint every issue as a case of good and evil most Americans, and most Canadians, have a lot more in common with each other than they don't. I found Obama's honest and frank take on the issues and attempts to find common ground between left and right to be refreshing. And a lot of his messages can apply to us in Canada as well, such as being willing to admit that sometimes the other side does have a point, and while we may fundamentally disagree on the issues at times their motives aren't always evil.

All and all an excellent read, I recommend it. I'll be wishing him luck on the presidential campaign trail and watching to see if he can hang on to this idealism through the rigors of a national race. I'd definitely vote for him over Hillary.

*The publisher provided a review copy to facilitate this review.

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1 comment:

Alex said...

I liked it as well. Definitely not a ghostwriter, as his first book was just as well written.