It took me almost two months to finish this book, because I wanted to really take the time and focus on the thoughts of Barack Obama, former president of the US. What a truly fascinating memoir, written by such an intelligent and empathic person. I don’t think I can really review A Promised Land, since overall I don’t know enough about the US politics to review a book about that, but I can highly recommend this book. Read this if you want to learn more about Barack Obama, the somewhat complicated basics of the US politics, and the details of the job of being the president. Oh and since February is Black History Month, finishing this book now was good timing.
I realized that for all the power inherent in the seat I now occupied, there would always be a chasm between what I knew should be done to achieve a better world and what in a day, week or year I found myself actually able to accomplish.
Honestly, I think I might also listen to this book one day, just to hear it narrated by Barack Obama himself.
I am not from the US, not have I ever been very interested in politics, so I can really say that I learned a lot by reading A Promised Land. I really enjoyed reading about how Obama became himself, and eventually became the first African-American president in the US. Like many others, I remember how it felt like to hear the news of that historical event. Even though I live far away, obviously Obama winning was a huge deal globally and a promise of a new, hopeful era. We were students back then, studying in the middle of a financial crisis and had many uncertainties about our near future so that symbolism for hope was really felt, at least in my opinion.
Obama certainly shows his empathic side when he tells of his life, and his experiences with “the job” as he describes being a president. 🙂 I think it was great how he emphasised how in the end being a president is a job, and how it’s also not a one person job. I was happy to read a lot about the “background forces” and the diversity of them whether they were the young campaign volunteers, or his closest advisors at the White House or his closest family members. It feels that there was a plan to use this book to introduce as much of the people that helped make his election happen and who helped with the job of running a country. I felt like he showed respect through this book to the different people who helped him succeed.
We also learn a lot about many frustrating moments, and it’s of course important to learn what goes on behind the scenes and how much work was done to make something happen. But I actually enjoyed more learning about the little moments in between work like having regular dinner time with family or taking a moment to play basketball with his staff members. I was also particularly impressed by how important it was e.g. for Obama to keep visiting the hospitals with injured soldiers. Being the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, he felt that what happened to those injured soldiers was his responsibility and seeing the consequences was an important part of the mental process, or so I understood from the book. Another moment that I really appreciated reading about was how Obama noticed that more effort could be done to promote inclusivity and diversity among his own people, particularly for women and people of colour. This is such an important topic and to hear the former president of the US noticing that improvements were needed, it really is inspiring for the rest of us. Any one of us can be blind to unconscious bias, no matter where you live or work.
As said, I don’t feel qualified enough to really review this book because in my opinion I still know too little about everything that has been told in this book regarding the politics of another country. But if you want to read a really good memoir that gives you an idea how difficult it is to try and juggle everything globally as well as within the country, and doing it all with integrity and the will to do good, then definitely read this book.
Two years ago (also February!) I read Michelle Obama’s book Becoming and really, really enjoyed it. And now having read Barack Obama’s book too, I’m really hoping that both of them will continue to write and share their knowledge and wisdom to us all. If I ever get asked about who my ideal dinner party participants would be, the Obama super-couple would be first ones I’d think of. Respect ❤
The Promised Land by Barack Obama fills these prompts from the two Reading Challenges I’m doing this year:
A biography of a person who is still alive (Helmet Reading Challenge)
A book with a black-and-white cover (Popsugar Reading Challenge)