The 44th American President’s latest memoir A promised Land, just hit the stands and has sold more than 1.7 million copies within its first week, smashing all kinds of records left, right and centre much like its author, but what is the book about? apart from things we already know about the president? And more importantly, why should you read it?
Written as the first in a two-volume memoir, A Promised Land is a recapitulation of Obama’s first term in office as president, ending with the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the executive order that led to it. A promised land is “the story of his improbable odyssey from a young man searching for his identity as the leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil,” stated Penguin Random House.
Born to parents who were from Kansas and Kenya, Barack Hussein Obama was born and brought up in Hawaii and later enrolled at the Occidental College in LA for his formative years, he then went on to Columbia University and then lastly Harvard Law School. Obama went on to work for varied Civil Rights Firms before accepting a position as a lecturer at Chicago Law School.
In 1996 he launched his first political campaign for the political office in Illinois, announcing his candidacy to replace Alice Palmer in the Illinois legislature and the rest, as they say, is history.
An already established writer, Obama’s previous autobiography, Dreams From My Father had proven his ability to write gripping and absorbing prose, and A Promised Land is just another testament to his ability as a writer. The book offers a personal insight to the events that took place during the years Obama was in office and the issues that he faced during his first term, including the war in Afghanistan, healthcare, political, socio-economic and environmental. His meeting with the Russian leader, the entire plot of Osama Bin Laden’s killing in Pakistan and the dreaded White House Correspondents’ dinner where he infamously roasted Donal Trump.
Obama’s memoir discloses his psyche and outlook on the massive events and individuals that surrounded him throughout his presidency, The narration flows seamlessly between a political and a more personal recitation, while Obama discusses his views on important political personalities like Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, Obama puts forth his professional opinion of his opponents, taking digs with the utmost elegance, he also talks of his personal life and the ups and downs he faced, while he was a father not only to his two little girls but also a nation, personal stories that describe how politics impacted his family, from marital strain to the “great shame” he felt after his mother’s death as he felt he had put ambition before duty and commitment.
A promised Land: is it worth the read?
While the book makes for an engrossing read, it goes beyond than being just that, Barack Obama’s memoir coming out at the end of Trump’s bitter reign is an insight into the antithetical facets of humanity and makes you ponder on how the same people came to equally enthusiastically support and elect two men so disparate.
The book further delivers on the autobiographical theme, offering readers a first-hand narrative of what it feels like to be the most powerful person in the world. Furthermore A Promised Land aims “to tell a more personal story that might inspire young people considering a life of public service, how my career in politics started with a search for a place to fit in, a way to explain the different strands of my mixed-up heritage, and how it was only by hitching my wagon to something larger than myself that I was ultimately able to locate a community and purpose for my life.” as Obama himself put it.
Donald Trump’s election brings to the forefront a darker underlying unsavoury yet truthful reality about the present-day race relations in the country and this system is further pondered upon by Obama as he writes about his presidency.
As Obama wrote in an excerpt “For millions of Americans spooked by a Black man in the White House, he promised an elixir for their racial anxiety … I knew that the passions he was tapping, the dark alternative vision he was promoting and legitimising, were something I’d likely be contending with for the remainder of my presidency.”
Ultimately, the book is a reminder that while holding the office might seem like something of a dream job, it is not just that, Obama reminds us of the almost unbearable pressure that he faced, with the possibility of risking catastrophic consequences from making one wrong decision.
The book has a moral for everyone who chooses to read it depending upon their perspective and perception, the memoir is elegant, thoughtful and uniquely relatable like the man himself.