Audacity of Hope


It was quite boring when I was at the first chapter. Floods of alien names, incidents, political jargons quickly waned away my initial interest. The frequent reference to unfamiliar material made the content almost indigestible to a politically-dumb reader like me. I wondered even if this book was solely for American voters, majority of whom cannot even point out Indonesia on the map, how many of them understand what Monroe Doctrine is? Fortunately, my curiosity sustained just a bit long enough to reach the second chapter. Then I couldn’t put it down until I completed the 400 page book, and reread several chapters afterwards.

I had to put many of my other schedules aside to finish this book, but it was certainly worthwhile. From this book, it is not hard to see that the Obama possesses many other attributes far beyond his oratory talent. I clearly feel the indisputable love he has for his country, the hope in his words and the enthusiasm he has to pursue his dream. When I was reading this book, I felt as if Mr. Obama was talking just beside me, in his magnetic, forceful and sincere voice. The magnitude of the social conflict across the American ethnic groups, the unsettling emotions, the arm wrestling between parties, the problem faced by families were outlined in great detail and with amazing honesty. The problems in education, health care, free trade, tax policy, foreign trade and the value of family were narrated from plain stories told by ordinary American people. No stones were left unturned at both sides of the wall of Capitol Hill. He also did not forget to tell dozens of humorous incidents, or some self-depreciating jokes of his family life. He thoroughly analyzed the conflict among different interest groups and even provided tentative solutions. The comprehensive knowledge of America and genuine concern for American people he has demonstrated in the book would not be possible if he loved his country any less than any others. I felt the same excitement of the tens of thousands of people who shook hand with him, who stood for hours for his speech across the world, who chanted “Yes We Can” mesmerizingly during his campaign. The excitement is electrifying. The spirit is contagious.

On the other side of the story, he told a normal man’s life; the balance between his career goal and his family commitment; the love he had for his daughters; the appreciation for his wife’s sacrifice; the gratitude to the opportunity his parents brought him. Mr. Obama also has to take the daily trivial hassles like any other family. He had been a politician like everyone else in the public office. He had tasted sore defeat, an empty news conference and fierce criticism. It was the keynote at Democratic National Convention 2004 that transformed his life. However, that opportunity would have made no difference if he was not ready for it, or his ambition was any less than the top most office in America.

Similar to his speech, his words were stunningly candid that even if they were lies, they were told with such enthusiasm and sincerity that no one could make out the difference. Although it is beyond doubt that he had spent considerable amount of effort and time to understand the stance at hand, and the pro and cons of any possible policies, he had been careful not to take a strong opinion in any of his topics. I am also cautious of his protectionist tendency. I do not entirely agree with his policy about family and foreign relationship, but I really appreciate his courage to write all the stories. Despite all these doubts, I am as eager as all the people who have voted him to see what changes this man will bring to America, and the whole world.

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