A promised land by Barack Obama

When Obama first contested for Presidency, few believed he could pull through, given the odds stacked against him- he was a senator for only one term, he was black and he was open in his demeanor and conversations. What worked for him were also exactly the same things, plus the fact that he brought vision for a future of the US, which few others could even think for.

4

4/5

Author : Barack Obama
Originally Published : 2020
Publication :Crown
Pages : 768
Genre(s) :-
Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Politics, US Presidents

His earlier books, written just about when he was President, gave rare insights into the sharp person that he is, articulate and clear about what he thinks and wants to achieve. This hefty book does not ever make for a dull moment. Given that both Michelle and Barack have had independent lives and identities, it was bound to be exhaustive, even so because he had a good second term as well (he began writing this book after his second presidency, in a bitter aftertaste after having given a good innings and having had to hand over to someone diametrically opposite). 

Early on in the book, we get rare glimpses of what would shape a young Barack’s ideology- shorn of doctrines and absolutes and taking into consideration what and how others would feel with our actions. His childhood, in his own words is that of a lackadaisical student, a passionate basketball player and an incessant partyer. In a childhood spent in Indonesia where he says he felt like a Platypus, unsure of where he belonged truly. Later in US, his conviction that racism wasn’t inevitable explains his willingness to defend the American idea about what the country was and what it could become. 

The years that shaped

Leaving for Harvard Law School appears as the turning point in his life because he felt otherwise his work was too slow and would make little impact. It was during his internship that he met and fell in love with the smart and witty Michelle. Their union was not just that of two people in love but also of equals- in life, as parents, as friends and as a support to each other during the entire political innings. A young Obama soon finding himself amidst political action in Chicago where he runs for senator. The book gives you all the intricacies of the election campaigns, as a senator and then while running for presidency of the US.

Obama has written the book with a view to tell everything as is. Though elaborate at times, you start getting a first -hand account of the statesman in him as he rose from one position to the other swiftly. His strong feelings towards family, actually travelling by train everyday initially so that he could spend some time with Michelle and kids, and then driving back and forth. You sense that rare characteristic of opening up, warts and all, to the readers. He’s mellow when he mentions his kids because he always wanted his kids to know how much he cared and loved them, unlike his own childhood when he didn’t even interact with his dad much. One is left wondering whether Obama would have been able to rise and make an impact had someone like Michelle not been with him. It also highlighted the importance of having an educated spouse for the US president, something that Hillary too stood for in Clinton years. 

Here is the POTUS who changed the way the world looked at America that had finally elected its first black president. All the self doubt that is apparent initially soon gives way for that confidence in everything that he did and stood for. Obama makes for some great buddy for Hillary Clinton, having defeated her in the primaries but taking her as his team mate soon after. 

Obama’s thoughts on topics ranging from war and peace to US’ role in maintaining world order have strong backing. He knows the US is an indispensible equalizer. 

Once in the White House, you progress further to see how this young family created a new identity for the first family of the US. 

Key takeaways

  1. A detailed account of a recent US president puts a lot of things in perspective. Especially foreign relations, with equals like Britain, France and China and the others, India, Middle East and South East Asia.
  2. Michelle and Barack’s lives seem to have evolved as he became president at a very young age (compared to the current incumbent in his seventies)
  3. Relationships, friendships, ideology, bonds, camaraderie play a key role in Obama’s life. 
  4. That a President ought to be someone just like you and me was a trend started by Obama in recent times. That was also when America found a role model after a pretty long time

Why I recommend this book

Read it with leisure. Make your notes if needed. But best of all, make your points about leadership lessons from the life of Obama. He heralded a new kind of leadership- confident, free thinking, strong and yet very much close to the common people. Obama’s 8 years at the White House created much history indeed, for you to validate your fandom once and for all. 

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