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A Promised Land: Barack Obama

I have always admired Barack Obama. I feel he is the most humane and the only American President whom I can connect with. At the beginning of the book, Barack Obama mentions that he hasn’t assumed it will be more than 500 pages when he planned this book. But this book has more than 700 pages and it covers only his first term in the office of president. He has promised a second book in which he will cover the rest of his presidency.

The book is divided into 7 sections. In the first two sections, he covers the part of why he decided to enter politics, ran for Senate, and ultimately decided to enter the presidency. It covers his presidential campaign and also gave a glimpse of his personal relationships. The other 5 sections are focused more on the policies and decisions he took during his first term of presidency.

My Experience

Being an Indian and not an ardent follower of world politics, there are definitely elements in the book that I can’t completely understand and relate to. But Barack Obama has done an amazing job in giving the background for each incident. Going through his journey I first time understood how difficult the job of the president is. Yes, there is power and fame, but with it comes great responsibilities. And whatever decision you take, you will always be criticized by one or the other

“What I was quickly discovering about the presidency was that no problem that landed on my desk, foreign or domestic, had a clean, 100 percent solution. If it had, someone else down the chain of command would have solved it already. Instead, I was constantly dealing with probabilities: a 70 percent chance, say, that a decision to do nothing would end in disaster; a 55 percent chance that this approach versus that one might solve the problem (with a 0 percent chance that it would work out exactly as intended); a 30 percent chance that whatever we chose wouldn’t work at all, along with a 15 percent chance that it would make the problem worse.”

However, I can understand that memoirs and biographies are partial in presenting a holistic view and it is often like watching the series or events unfolding in front of you with a set of blinkers on. So, I will not defend and say if all his decisions are the best. But I find a sense of honesty and candidness throughout the book as he was not afraid to call out wrong things, and of the decisions, he took half-heartedly because that’s what the situation demanded at that time.

I have listened to this book on Audible. This book is narrated by Barack Obama himself and I must say he is an amazing narrator. His voice, tempo, and writing made the reading experience quite fun and though it was a long book, I never felt it getting dragged anywhere.

I have listened to Becoming by Micelle Obama, narrated by her only last year, and even though I shouldn’t, I end up comparing them both. And I must say I loved Becoming much more than A Promised Land. I felt that Becoming was much more candid and has much more life than this book. But again, having read that book it was fun comparing notes between the two books while going through this one.


If you enjoy reading memoirs and don’t mind reading about a little bit of politics, this book is for you. I would definitely recommend listening to this book on Audible. I am not sure if I would have been able to enjoy all the political and economic bits that much going through the book myself.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Published inBooksNon-Fiction

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