“A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (1)

Long before Barack Obama became President of the United States, I read his two books: “Dreams From My Father” [my review here] and “The Audacity Of Hope” [my review here]. Then, the summer before last, I read Michelle Obama’s work “Becoming” [my review here].

I’m a huge fan of the Obamas and looked forward immensely to Barack Obama’s memoirs of his time in the White House. “A Promised Land” has recently been published and makes ideal reading for yet another pandemic lockdown.

In a preface, Obama tells us that he drafted the work with pen and pad rather than a computer. He explains that he envisaged the project would take a year and cover maybe 500 pages. In fact, he found that his memoirs will take two volumes and the first part alone is some 700 pages .

Conventionally, one might have expected a presidential memoir to start with a high note of his time in office: in Obama’s case, perhaps the passage of the Affordable Care Act or the killing of Osama bin Laden. Then the text would jump back in time to his arrival at the White House or perhaps even further to the start of his presidential election campaign.

But Obama is different. The opening pages are not about him but about the White House groundskeepers. Then the flash-back is all the way to his childhood in Hawaii. He reminds us that he only met his Kenyan father once. So many driven individuals seem to have had a father absent from the home and I guess that includes me. Obama found his refuge in books – as I did.


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