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

Quote of the book

“We have a stake in one another, and that what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart”

5 key points

  • The book was written just before Obama’s campaign for US presidency in 2008
  • He touches upon several subjects, but in particular he talks about the need for investment in higher education, in healthcare, and he speaks of US race relations
  • He says that there is enough money in America to do what they want to, but there is a lack of national urgency to do it. In general, he has a hopeful and positive approach to making positive change.
  • Obama argues that to make America more competitive, there needs to be investment in education, science and technology, and energy
  • He speaks about the changing nature of the job market and changing family dynamics and structures


“The Audacity of Hope” by Obama was published in 2006 whilst he was a Senator, before he became president. In this book, Obama shares his views on many political subjects that he later revisited during his campaign for presidency in 2008. Some of these topics include US healthcare, the education system, the relationship between employers and employees, the family, and US race relations.

This book would be of particular interest to those interested in American politics, in Obama’s early career, and in some of America’s social and political areas of concern. Regardless of political leaning, it is interesting to see Obama’s perspectives on politics being formed at the earlier stages of his political career, as well as his growth before presidency.

It is also interesting to see his personal journey from his roots, his life before politics, his academic background of law, and his eventual journey into politics. His initial journey into politics was written in a very humble way, with emphasis on his desire to speak up for the ignored and left behind.

The book reads like a political commentary from Obama’s perspective combined with a personal autobiography of his early career before becoming and as a Senator. In this way, the connection between his personal life and his political views becomes clear. For example, he shares an anecdote of being in awe at his wife Michelle’s ability to manage the family and her work, as well as how he learned to share home responsibilities. This influenced his attitudes and empathy towards working families, where many have two working parents and are therefore stretched.

The last part of the book becomes much more personal when Obama talks about his family. He talks about meeting his wife Michelle and how much he loves her, his children, the conversations he has had with his daughters, and what it was like for him to grow up without a father. He speaks of his aspirations for his daughters once they grow up – since this book was written in 2006, it would be interesting to see how these aspirations have played out now that 15 years have passed.

Overall, this book is a good insight into American politics and society, but it reads very much like an autobiography at times, with a lot of emphasis on Obama’s personal life before his presidency. Its strong point is how hopeful and positive Obama is about how politics can change things for the better.

It would be interesting to read this book alongside Obama’s latest publication, A Promised Land, to see what has changed between the period before and after Obama’s presidency, plus after Trump’s presidency. This would provide an insight into what has and has not changed in American politics and society over the past fifteen years or so, and which issues are of importance now following significant events of racial tensions, pandemics, and shifting political attitudes.

Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Get the book | Official website | Goodreads

Published by sharemylibrary

Non-fiction book reviews, summaries, and recommendations

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