Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Audiobook: A Promised Land by Barack Obama

A Promised Land

Barack Obama
Narrator: Barack Obama 
Publication: Random House Audio (Nov. 17, 2020
Length: 29 hours and 10 minutes

Description: 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 listeners 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 US partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings listeners 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 US 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. 

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this memoir which tells about Barack Obama's growth into his role as the first Black American leader of the United States of America. 

Told by Obama with his distinctive speech patterns, I found myself deeply engaged in topics that had never crossed my mind before. I lived through this time period but never knew just how near we were to financial collapse and what extraordinary measures were taken to keep the US out of a collapse. I didn't remember the Deepwater Horizon disaster at all and was intrigued by the government's response to it.

I was intrigued about the core of people who worked with Obama to help him reach his goals. I enjoyed his viewpoint on his colleagues, political opponents and the many world leaders he worked with while in office. 

I came out of this listening experience with a deepened respect for Obama's leadership and character. I was reinforced in my belief that he was a fundamentally decent man who wanted to do more but was constrained by political realities. I was heartened by both his faith in America and his determination to make America a better place.

I enjoyed learning about his concern for the effect his political ambitions would have for his wife and daughters. 

This story is only the beginning since it ends with the location and death of Osama bin Laden. I look forward to reading further volumes of his memoir.

Because of its length, I had thought that I would listen to a chapter or so a day. However, I was quickly swept up by the events Obama described and ended up listening to his story for three days.

I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.


  1. I enjoyed this one, too. Probably one of my favourite memoirs of all time.

  2. I have this book and hope to start reading it soon. I think I should listen to it on an audiobook, if the story is narrated by Barack. I love listening to him. Great review!


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