Until a colleague of mine explained it to me a few years ago, I did not know the difference between Left and Right. It’s hard to say where I belong in the spectrum; like to think I am aligned closest to common sense — fully realizing that common sense itself is subjective.

I am not well-versed with politics, but I had this insatiable desire to read Obama’s Audacity of Hope for a long time — mostly just because his Presidency and his election into it is the one that most coincided with the times I became interested in politics. Besides, next to the Great Depression and 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis is probably the worst challenge a President has had to handle (Note: At press time of this book, he was not a President yet)

If you are like me, you will have 2 handicaps reading this book — first, you will have difficulty comprehending the first few chapters due to the generous use of political terms. Second, you will require more effort to understand if you don’t have a mind-map of Presidents, the years they were presidents and their colors (red/blue). As for me, I became a tad bit too much conscious that his thoughts will have a partisan tinge.

In 9 crisply named chapters, he explains his thoughts around various things — the ideological divide between Republicans and Democrats, the defining values of Americans, the Constitution and the way it ought to be interpreted in the 21st century, the law-making machinery called the Senate and the protocols by which laws are created, voted and passed and many other things. He discusses opportunities to fix education, healthcare and to maintain competitiveness of America, all this while continually criticizing and sometimes supporting the thoughts and actions of Republican politicians. Because of my own position on several of the ideological factors, I found his ideas reasonable — but I am sure a right-wing extremist will find many flaws in his thoughts and writing.

In perhaps the most interesting chapter, titled The World Beyond The Borders — he explains the role of America in the world stage. He articulates clearly what America should do to the conflicted countries, developing or under-developed countries and threatening countries. The subject of foreign policy has always fascinated me (as has Macroeconomics) and as much as it is difficult to grasp the subject, I found Obama’s ideas smart as well. Also Rep-Dem gaps certainly narrow at — as the author puts it — edge of water. My views could be a result of my ignorance on this subject, but in some ways I found Obama’s actions not matching his words. For example, he says America should subject itself to the same rules it imposes on other nation-states when it comes to policies. But his own actions on greenhouse gas emissions, as evidenced by his failed discussions with India and China during the G20 summit, were somewhat conflicting with what he says America must do.

In closing, I think this book is a good read — would have been more apt to read this when it was released — prior to his ascension to presidency.

Trivia — I cannot think of one Indian premier who has written eloquently about a varied selection of topics, including his chapter on the family values and how he coped up with the difficulties of raising a family. Unless I am mistaken, the last person who came close to this is Nehru, which was several decades ago. Am I missing something?