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A Promised Land - Review

I was hoping to finish this book by inauguration day but couldn't get through the 768 pages (29 hours of audio) in time without rushing.

Upon the first chapter, my eyes started misting, and a knot in my throat began to grow as I was reintroduced to a smart, thoughtful, and credible president. This sentiment is not hyperbole but my true experience.

Obama ambitiously covers his life from childhood through the first term of his presidency. He concludes after the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden. I am not sure how he could obtain such detailed historical events, from his rise in politics, trips to China, India, and the healthcare bill's passage, to immigration reform.

Unlike many other biographies, Obama brings the reader into the argument, displaying both sides and how he often had to decide the best option. This book chronicles historical events but the critical analysis that led to life-changing decisions.

The early part of the book shares his deep love for his mother. He doesn't portray his mom as a saint but rather as a complex, free-thinking soul who often made many poor decisions that the family would have to deal with the lasting consequences.

He combines many of his political stories with inside conversations and how the process played in back rooms. At the same time, he also sheds light on his marriage, fatherhood (when he attempted to coach the girl's basketball team), to the presidency's loneliness. One poignant theme that Obama allowed his readers to observe was Michelle's hesitancy behind his political aspirations. He shares the stress of the financial burden that was weighing this very decision. In one story, he remembers when his credit card was denied due to insufficient funds, a reminder that the Obama's didn't come from a political dynasty.

Upon completing this book, my belief that Barack Obama is a rare historical figure who will stand the test of time is further cemented. He worked hard to keep his campaign promises but openly admits throughout the book his shortcomings, such as his idealization of environmental reform.

I am glad I didn't rush through this important piece of work. A Promised Land was a fascinating read, especially since it came on Michelle Obama's autobiography's heels, which allowed the reader to compare notes on some of their accounts.

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