A Promised Land – Book Review

By: Barack Obama

A Promised Land is part 1 of Barack Obama’s autobiography. I chose to read his book to learn more about him and how he worked to become the president of the United States.

“The truth is, I’ve never been a big believer in destiny. I worry that it encourages resignation in the down-and-out and complacency among the powerful.”

My review:

The writing style of this book really impressed me; it was very easy to read and understand.  Obama managed to make the most complicated topics seem straightforward.  I appreciated the seriousness of everything he wrote about but, I was glad to see him include humorous anecdotes from time to time. 

I enjoyed reading his perspective on the actions he took during his presidency, especially the actions his supporters questioned.  From the American people feeling like he “bailed out the rich CEOs and banks” to the ridiculous media attention on the birther conspiracy, he focused on trying to explain how he handled those situations to the best of his ability.

“When things are bad,” Axe said, walking next to me as we left the December meeting, “no one cares that ‘things could have been worse.”

Some things I didn’t like:

In his explanation of certain events, he included far too many details.  I felt like I was reading about the 2008 economic crisis for days, and while I understand its importance, I also think it could have been summarized.  At times I found myself skimming through some topics because he had already given me a basic understanding of the situation.  I felt this way in many other chapters as well; it just seemed like it could have been shortened and still conveyed the same message.

I was really disappointed that this book was only part 1 of his autobiography; it seemed like a little less detail would have easily allowed this book to cover his entire presidency. However, I do really like where and how he chose to end this book. The event he chose brought back a time where Americans could finally unite under a significant triumph and not focus on disagreements between party lines.

“I recalled a sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called “The Drum Major Instinct.” In it, he talks about how, deep down, we all want to be first, celebrated for our greatness; we all want “to lead the parade.” He goes on to point out that such selfish impulses can be reconciled by aligning that quest for greatness with more selfless aims. You can strive to be first in service, first in love.”

Final thoughts:

Overall, I liked this book; I feel like I got to know Barack and his family on a more intimate level. However, it was very long and detailed, so if you haven’t read autobiographies before, this may not be the best place to start.  This book has also made me much more interested in learning more about Michelle Obama, and I have definitely added her book Becoming to my list of books I want to read.