A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Review)

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Format: Audiobook

Source: Audible

Publisher: Penguin Audio

Genres: Biography, Memoir, Political, Non-Fiction

Narrator: Barack Obama

Length: 29 Hours 10 Minutes

Publication Date: 17th November 2020

Synopsis/Blurb (Taken from Goodreads):

“A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making, from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy. 

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.

This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.”

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My Thoughts & Review

This wasn’t the first book I’ve read by Barack Obama. I’ve previously read two of his other books Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope, and having enjoyed both I was super excited to read this one.

A Promised Land is the first volume of Barack Obama’s presidential memoir. It gives a detailed account of how Obama he rose through all the difficult times to become president as well as details and reasons behind his decision making.  We also get little snippets of his personal life, which I found to be both heart-warming and funny at the same time.

Although this book is long, it’s well written and for most it, it will keep you engaged. I say most of it as I did struggle in places. For me it was not knowing enough about the US political system. So, when Obama starts talking about policies and the political system, it just went over my head.

I’ve not read many political memoirs but the ones I remember reading I found to be quite boring and slow, but this one was definitely the opposite. This was a very interesting and insightful read, and look forward to the second instalment. 

This book may not be for everyone but I really do recommend you give it a go. I personally opted to listen to the audiobook which is narrated by Obama himself. I really enjoyed his calm and steady voice throughout the audiobook, but did have to speed it up a notch. As his voice was a bit too calming!! 

My Rating


Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Leave a comment below and let’s have a chat.

Happy Reading!!!

You can also find me on: Twitter || Instagram ||Goodreads

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  1. Great review!
    I listened to the audio book as well and reviewed the book when it first came out. I agree President Obama does have a calming voice, but he spoke so slowly and deliberately, I ended up speeding up the playback. That helped, especially during the sections on foreign policy that were over my head.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I sped the audiobook book up too. I had to speed it up to x3 just to get it to my normal listening speed. The policy stuff went over my head too, so you’re not th only one 😉


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