Pros: Easy to read. Shows how his life experiences have shaped his views.
Cons: Written before the mid-term elections.
For anyone trying to find out what Barack Obama is really all about, here it is. His plans for foreign and domestic issues are here, as well as a thoughtful look at how his ideals have been informed by his personal experiences.
He uses a technique in his writing that acknowledges those thoughts most of us guiltily harbor, just before he shows us a different tactic. It serves to makes the reader feel that Barack understands the average Joe who has worked hard for his home and money. He understands that while we don't want children starving in the streets, we don't want people taking advantage of the government of succumbing to a blame mentality that ultimately kills personal ambition. Because he is able to say, simply, "Yes, parents need to take responsibility for their children," it frees the reader to listen more openly to his suggestions for social reform.
As a mother and a writer, I have to admit that my favorite part was a section at the end that addressed his family life. I think we all know that when someone runs for office, there is a personal cost--to the children and to the spouse. Obama lays it all out, right down to admitting his incompetence with some of the basic tasks of daily care for his daughters, simply because he hasn't been around to figure it out. I came away knowing that he loves his girls and his wife, and that his drive to be a politician (even though it takes him away from them) is ultimately to fix the world for his little girls. I loved the part where his wife told him he could not get the supplies for the party-favor bags at a birthday party because he would not do it right. It's nice to see that kind of humility and humor.
I followed Barack when he was running for the U.S. Senate in Illinois. (His book details his successful and unsuccessful runs for office, and attributes a lot of his success in the Senate campaign to luck and consequences beyond his control.) He certainly has charisma. When I voted for him, it was the first time in years I left the poll feeling excited that I had voted FOR someone, and not just against someone else.
This book will acquaint you with Barack in a personal way, and show how he came to his views. It also gets to the heart of a lot of myths about him that you may have seen in the news.