Acquired via BookCrossing 19 May 2009 – BookRing

Although my naievety about this book’s central premise was made more realistic when I was told that there is a genre of "manifesto" books written by politicians (I’ve only recently taken an interest in political history as opposed to Politics Now, so I’ve tended to read analyses and the odd memoir so far), this is a fascinating book.  It is a bit "Obama saves the world", as he takes different themes (business, foreign policy, family, race) and talks about the issues as he sees them, and possible solutions.  A writer with a real skill for making the political personal and for explaining concepts clearly and understandably, as we saw with "Dreams From My Father", he engages in the same interweaving of statements on policy and reflections on his own experience.  The section on foreign policy seems the most researched, as opposed to experienced, and the least confident, however this is to be expected, as he had experienced the other matters in hand as a community activist, lawyer and Senator.  

One of Obama’s chief moral standpoints is to not engage in negative campaigning.  I was interested to see how he spoke about current Senators and Presidents, and yes, he gives them their due when they deserve it, whether Clinton or Reagan.  This is refreshing, especially in contrast with the carping EU election leaflets we’ve been receiving recently, which only serve to do the other man down, it seems!

Having been written a relatively short time ago, I am now keen to find out if Obama is starting to put any of these putative policies into reality.   He does seem genuinely humble, and to have an equally genuine and strong vocation for public service.  He explains well the difficulties of remaining in touch with reality while a Senator; I hope he manages to now, as the President, and I’ll have a bit more of an understanding of what drives the man and his policies having read this book.