A promised land / Barack Obama.

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  • Additional Information
    • Publication Information:
      First edition.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: 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.
    • Notes:
      Includes index.
    • ISBN:
    • Accession Number:
    • Accession Number:


Booklist Reviews 2020 December #2

In his preface, President Obama says he wanted to write a book that covered his political career and his presidency as well as one that might inspire young people to a life of service. He rather ruefully admits he thought the whole thing might take up about 500 pages; this 768-page tome turned out to be only volume one. Putting pen to paper (yes, he composes first drafts on legal pads), the former president writes with an elegant hand, juxtaposing his personal ascendancy against the events of history, along with describing the disruptive populism and the toxicity of racism that sometimes twisted the audacity of hope into a deflating nope. Yes, there is excess. Occasionally it seems as if Obama feels the need to describe every person who worked on his campaign or in his administration. So many of his thoughts need examination, and from so many different angles. He sometimes uses the book to explain to readers what he really meant; his debate comment to Hillary Clinton that she was likable enough, he claims—a bit unbelievably—was only to indicate scorn for the question. Whatever its small flaws, however, the book does a memorable job of untangling both a president and a presidency. Obama reveals himself in his memories of his young daughters, wistful for the time he knows he's missed with them; in his sadness and embarrassment at his inability to be at his dying mother's bedside because of a campaign; and in the uneasiness he feels when he questions his run for the presidency after only serving two years of his senatorial term. God, Barack, when is it going to be enough? Michelle asks. Like the professor he was, Obama tries to get his readers to make connections. For example, he shows clearly how reactions to TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) led to formation of the Tea Party. These efforts to show the consequences—intended and unintended—of his decisions are among the book's most formidable strengths. The volume ends with the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, which occurred ironically close to the White House Correspondents' Dinner where President Obama mercilessly teased Donald Trump, perhaps precipitating his presidential run. This odd juxtaposition mirrors so many other moments in the book where success spins out in unanticipated ways: darker forces are being released. To be continued. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.