TBR: The Audacity of Hope

For my birthday, I asked for, and received, Barack Obama’s new book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.  I started reading it right away, but then got started on some other books that were due back to the library, and didn’t pick it up again until the last couple of weeks. 

The book did nothing to change my overall positive impression of Obama.  He comes across as thoughtful, compassionate, well-read, and funny.  He’s clearly been reading many of the same policy briefs that I have, and I can’t name a single policy recommendation that I seriously disagree with.  (I do think some of them are likely to fall well short of solving the problems that they’re aimed at; for example, tying teacher pay to performance is something that I’d be willing to experiment with, but is unlikely to solve all the problems of American schools.)  He’s got the politician’s knack of finding the telling anecdote to bring a problem to life.

But the book itself is a bit of a snoozer.  I found myself carrying it back and forth to work, but choosing to read the newspaper instead of cracking it open.  While the rhetoric soars at times, at other points it reads like a high school textbook, recapping America’s ambivalent relationship to international institutions dating back to the League of Nations.  I’m glad that Obama knows this history — I wish I were more confident that our current president did — but it doesn’t make for a page-turner.  Dreams from my Father is a far more interesting read.

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