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."
The Chicago Tribune describes the book as a "political biography that concentrates on the senator's core values", and credits the large crowds that gathered at book signings with influencing Obama's decision to run for president. 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." 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."
An Italian edition was published in April 2007 with a preface by Walter Veltroni, 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 and has been referred to as "Obama's European counterpart". Spanish and German translations were published in June 2007; the French edition, subtitled une nouvelle conception de la politique américaine, was published in October 2007. The Croatian edition was published in October 2008.
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.