The Audacity of Hope
AuthorBarack Obama
CountryUnited States
SubjectPolitical convictions
PublisherCrown / Three Rivers Press
Publication date
October 17, 2006
Media typePrint (hardcover)
973/.04960730092 B 22
LC ClassE901.1.O23 A3 2006

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream is the second book written by Barack Obama.[1] It became number one on both the New York Times and bestsellers lists in the fall of 2006, after Obama had been endorsed by Oprah Winfrey.[2] In the book, Obama expounds on many of the subjects that became part of his 2008 campaign for the presidency. The book advance from the publisher totalled $1.9 million contracted for three books.[3] Obama announced his presidential campaign on February 10, 2007, a little more than three months after the book's release.


Further information: 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address

The title of The Audacity of Hope was derived from a sermon delivered by Barack Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Wright had attended a lecture by Frederick G. Sampson in Richmond, Virginia, in the late 1980s, on the G. F. Watts painting Hope, which inspired him to give a sermon in 1990 based on the subject of the painting – "with her clothes in rags, her body scarred and bruised and bleeding, her harp all but destroyed and with only one string left, she had the audacity to make music and praise God ... To take the one string you have left and to have the audacity to hope ... that's the real word God will have us hear from this passage and from Watt's painting."[4] Having attended Wright's sermon, Obama later adapted Wright's phrase "audacity to hope" to "audacity of hope" which became the title for his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address, and the title of his second book.

While a Senate candidate, Obama delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, entitled The Audacity of Hope that propelled him to national prominence. In the less than twenty minutes it took to deliver the speech, Obama was catapulted to sudden fame, with many analysts predicting that he might be well positioned to enter a future presidential race. In 2006, Obama released The Audacity of Hope, a book-length account that expanded upon many of the same themes he originally addressed in the convention speech.

In his speech addressing the Democratic National Convention in 2004, Obama said:[5]

In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. That's not what I'm talking about, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope.


The book, divided into nine chapters, outlines Obama's political and spiritual beliefs, as well as his opinions on different aspects of American culture.


The New York Times noted that "Mr. Obama's new book, The Audacity of Hope' ... is much more of a political document. Portions of the volume read like outtakes from a stump speech, and the bulk of it is devoted to laying out Mr. Obama's policy positions on a host of issues, from education to health care to the war in Iraq."[1]

The Chicago Tribune describes the book as a "political biography that concentrates on the senator's core values",[6] and credits the large crowds that gathered at book signings with influencing Obama's decision to run for president.[7] Former presidential candidate Gary Hart describes the book as Obama's "thesis submission" for the U.S. presidency: "It presents a man of relative youth yet maturity, a wise observer of the human condition, a figure who possesses perseverance and writing skills that have flashes of grandeur."[8] Reviewer Michael Tomasky writes that it does not contain "boldly innovative policy prescriptions that will lead the Democrats out of their wilderness", but does show Obama's potential to "construct a new politics that is progressive but grounded in civic traditions that speak to a wider range of Americans."[9]

An Italian edition was published in April 2007 with a preface by Walter Veltroni,[10] former Mayor of Rome, then leader of Italy's Democratic Party and one of Obama's earliest supporters overseas, who met with Obama in Washington in 2005[11] and has been referred to as "Obama's European counterpart".[12] Spanish and German translations were published in June 2007;[13] the French edition, subtitled une nouvelle conception de la politique américaine, was published in October 2007.[14] The Croatian edition was published in October 2008.[15]

The book remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for the 30 weeks since publication.[16] The audiobook version won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.[17]

A number of blogs and newspapers repeated inaccurate rumors that the book contains the passage, "I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction." The actual quote does not mention Muslims at all, referring instead to Arab and Pakistani Americans in the context of immigrant communities generally.[18][19]

Versions and translations

Obama signs copies of The Audacity of Hope at a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana, in 2009.


  1. ^ a b Kakutani, Michiko (October 17, 2006). "Obama's Foursquare Politics, With a Dab of Dijon". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-06-21.
  2. ^ "Could Oprah Help Elect Obama? - News & Features (". December 2006. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  3. ^ "Book Notes —". Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  4. ^ Sermon printed in Preaching Today, 1990.
  5. ^ Transcript of a speech by Barack Obama
  6. ^ Dorning, Mike (October 11, 2006). "First Glimpse of Obama's New Memoir". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2007-06-21.
  7. ^ Dorning, Mike; Christi Parsons (June 12, 2007). "Carefully Crafting the Obama 'Brand'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  8. ^ Hart, Gary (December 24, 2006). "American Idol". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  9. ^ Tomasky, Michael (November 30, 2006). "The Phenomenon". New York Review of Books. Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 2007-04-01. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  10. ^ "L'audacia della speranza" (in Italian). Libreria Rizzoli. Archived from the original on 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  11. ^ "Il politico prevale sull' amministratore". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). April 30, 2005. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  12. ^ Tracy Wilkinson (February 25, 2008). "Obama's European counterparts". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2008-06-02. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  13. ^ Lobb, Annelena (June 19, 2007). "Obama, en Español". The Wall Street Journal Online. Retrieved 2008-01-14. "Hoffnung wagen". Riemann. June 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  14. ^ "L'Audace d'espérer". Presses de la Cité Etranger. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  15. ^ "Predstavljena Obamina knjiga". Croatian Radiotelevision. November 4, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  16. ^ "Best Sellers: Hardcover Nonfiction". The New York Times. May 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-27.
  17. ^ "Obama beats ex-presidents for audiobook Grammy". Associated Press. 2008-02-10. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
  18. ^ "Unwary duped by falsehoods". Florida Times-Union. 2008-07-13.
  19. ^ "Political rumors: Obama is no Muslim". Florida Times-Union. 2008-07-09.

Book excerpts