Reviews

A Promised Land, by Barack Obama

vanya's review against another edition

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4.0

This book gives a great insight in the white house during Barack Obama's presidency. I found it compelling and interesting to read, and I raced through the pages. I found it gives me greater understanding of the choices made during Obama's presidency, even though I still, even after reading the book, do not always agree with them.

byrningup's review against another edition

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5.0

Is this version the most flawless iterations of what it could be? No. Obama himself admits in the intro that it's too long and could have been written better. It's not a book that is trying to provide an unbiased account of the events, but rather the events as they were experienced by this person, and I think that is valuable in itself. This book was so fascinating on so many levels. I wasn't engaged in politics for most of Obama's presidency, and so many of the events and controversies were new to me. Yes, this book is long, but I never found it boring and in many places I found it heartfelt and wonderful, and I'm definitely interested in the next installment.

daniella1's review against another edition

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4.0

So fckin long!!! AND IT’S ONLY ABOUT HIS FIRST TERM. It’s good if you’re REALLY interested in presidential politics but I would not recommend this as a casual read

emmajames's review against another edition

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medium-paced

4.5

Solid. I really enjoyed hearing Obama’s perspective and rationale behind his decision making, even if he sometimes seems to be using the memoir to make the case that he is much more left leaning than his actual policy record would dictate. He’s also an amazing writer and this was a very eloquent memoir for sure. 

tofuadmiral's review against another edition

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4.0

With this powerful and detailed account of his first term in office, President Obama reminds us that democracy is not a gift from on high, but something founded and built together, day by day.

First off, shoutout to my Mom for gifting me this book! I've been inspired by President Obama since way back when I was in the 4th grade. I still remember my teacher rolling out the television cart so we could watch his 2008 inauguration as it happened. Living in a border town as a racialized American, the election of a Black man to arguably the most powerful position in the world was a big deal. Our school was ecstatic, and the hype was palpable. For the first time, I started to harbor aspirations that had previously only been within the realms of white imaginations; could I too, maybe, possibly, be President one day?

The initial childhood idealism has since melted away to a healthy level of skepticism. Obama's larger-than-life image eroded in my eyes under reports of drone strikes, rising income inequality, and a widely held belief that we had "solved the race issue" in the US.

Reading this book has centered me somewhat. This book affords the reader the unique opportunity of seeing behind the scenes of some of the defining moments of the century; The Great Recession, the Greek Debt Crisis, the Arab Spring, the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the Deepwater Horizon spill all happened in his first term.

Understanding the complexity and breadth of these issues allows me to temper my former distaste and dismissive attitude to one of respect; Obama, for all he did, got some cool shit done. From the Affordable Care Act, to the American Recovery Act, and even to his commitment to pulling troops out of Iraq, Obama made some of the most impactful presidential decisions of the last century. In addition to his policy, the precedent he set as a poised and likable world leader was invaluable, especially when contrasted with the debacle that was the Trump Presidency.

This book, through its sheer detail, offers the reader deep insight into Obama's decision-making process, and the complexities of the White House and Office of the President at large. As the most recent and most relatable Presidential memoir, I believe it to be a must-read for any amongst my generation. One critique of mine is that at times the overt themes of American exceptionalism seem like pandering to the average American book consumer, although if I was Obama, I would have done the same thing. A man's gotta eat.

Through its depiction of not only the aforementioned historic events and policies, but also the quiet moments with Bo (his dog), and casual pickup games with CIA detail, this book has truly helped me to understand the American political process, and what it takes to make an impact on a global scale. But it has also helped me understand how a man, mortal as he may be, can shoulder such a great burden, with humility, respect, and even a little bit of humor.

Highly recommend the read, and hope that we can move towards a stronger democracy that models some of the aspirational values Obama depicts.

sarahmcg's review against another edition

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informative slow-paced

4.25

I always feel weird reviewing/rating memoir! However, here’s some thoughts on this one:

It’s in-depth, informative, and long (I started this around Thanksgiving 😅)! To be fair, non-fiction always takes me longer to read and this audiobook is 28 hours long. I enjoyed listening to it because he reads it. It covers some childhood/growing up, and then focuses on his campaign and election all the way through to when Osama Bin Laden was captured (2011). There’s another volume coming (idk when!)

Obama became president while I was in HS! Admittedly, I had the privilege of not paying too much attention to politics at the time. Now that I’m an ✨ adult ✨ and trying to be more informed, I enjoyed learning more about his presidency in detail - it filled in a lot of knowledge on things I had heard of but didn’t know much about, from the financial crisis to international/global relations to all the other decisions a President has to make - when to get involved in conflict and how to do so, when and how to address issues in the media, the minutiae of making legislative change. 

This book truly brings to light something I’m sure we all realize… the President can have a lot of amazing hopes and dreams in their vision of what they would like to do for the USA in ideal circumstances. However, what change they are actually able to make during their presidency is dependent on so many other variables. 

There’s of course the pressure from both parties - the opposite party not agreeing with a proposal, while your own party believes you’re not doing enough - and basically having to whittle your original idea down bit-by-bit until it’s digestible enough for a majority to agree on. It’s frustrating to see how long it takes to create real change, but he did have some great triumphs, as well as the distinction of being the first Black POTUS!

murrayisabel's review against another edition

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5.0

Unnecessarily long but very captivating + honest

p0tat0's review against another edition

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4.0

Obviously, Michelle's is still the superior Obama memoir, but this is still a really fascinating and candid look at the job of President of the United States. Really looking forward to the next installment.

paigechu's review against another edition

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At first I was impatient hearing about his visits to small towns America for his campagne. I wanted to hear about the backstage stories of his policies. But when he got to that part, it was just sooo tedious. Hahaha. I gotta say I wasn't completely tuned-in when I listened to the book on Audible. It was interesting hearing about how he and Hilary crashed Wen Jia Bao's meeting, and the backstory about the BP oil leak. I made some money off BP stock during that time but I didn't know it was an underwater leak that was so technically disastrous.

歐巴馬真的非常話癆,還是蜜雪兒的書比較適合我 :p

sdobbsbrown's review against another edition

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5.0

So. Well. Written. My only complaints are issues I have with policy - which of course, he can't change history in memoir. I was hoping for a little more reflection or remorse on some of what I felt were his worst policy decisions, but knowing this is likely a matter of national security I can't complain much.