A Promised Land by Barack Obama
I’d been meaning to read this book since it came out about a year ago, as I am an unabashed and unashamed Barack Obama fanboy — perhaps even more so since he has left office, and has continued to pursue his goals of teaching young political activists how to sustain their quest for a better world. Much like the former President himself, this book is many things: meticulous, well-researched, polished, self-effacing, optimistic, and, at times, somewhat long-winded, clocking in at an almost ridiculous 701 pages — and it only covers the first half of his Presidency! Mr. Obama is a fabulous writer, and gives the reader a detailed, play-by-play of everything that happened from the time he decided to run for office through the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011 — a dramatic stopping point that neatly sets the stage for Act II in his yet-to-be-released second book. Ever the pragmatist and idealist, preferring to see the world both as it could be but also as it is, Mr. Obama is genuinely honest about his failures and shortcomings, while also acknowledging the inherent hypocrisy of his critics, both from his “adversaries” on the far-right to those within the Democratic Party who thought that he wasn’t “liberal” enough for their tastes. There is certainly a great deal of hubris here — as much as he has to say and as great a writer as he is, there is really no reason for this book to be 700 pages and for his Presidential memoirs to be two volumes. That said, the next installment promises to be very, very interesting as it will almost certainly wade into the 2016 campaign and election of Donald Trump, and I think we are all curious to see how deeply he dives into his true feelings about what went on behind-the-scenes and how it affected him and his family, personally. The ramifications of 2016 are still felt to this day, and I think Mr. Obama will be as honest about the end of his Presidency as he was about the origins of it: a vision for a better future that will have unforeseen obstacles and potholes, and an America that sometimes needs to take a step backward before taking small, intermediate baby steps forward. I, for one, am thankful that he (and Michelle) are still active, engaged, and involved in shaping our future — although I do hope that his next book is a tad bit shorter! If you are an Obama fan or are just interested in the politics of the Presidency and what goes on in the Oval Office, this book is for you.