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Publisher's Summary

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 4th 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 authorises 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 organiser 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.

©2020 Barack Obama (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about A Promised Land

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My Review of 'A Promised Land'

I actually wanted to give it a 3.5/5 rating but unfortunately Goodreads doesn't allow that so marking it a 3.
As I am writing this review I can't help but compare with my experience of reading 'Playing it my way' - the autobiography of Sachin Tendulkar. It was launched with a similar hype and then I found the writing underwhelming at best just as this one. I finished 'A Promised Land' in audiobook format narrated by Barack Obama himself. It felt like he was reading from an enormously lengthy press briefing for hours. Such lifeless is the prose!
I am surprised because I had earlier read 'Dreams from my father' by the same author and it remains one of the most poignant memoirs I have read till date. Was it a better choice of ghost writer perhaps? I don't know. But I had a lot of expectations from this particular book that went unfulfilled.
I always make it a point not to allow my own differences of opinion with the author being a deciding factor in rating a book. Having said that the charisma and aura that has been built around Obama by popular media, the projection of his image as 'the different one' is bound to break as one gets a glimpse of his thought process during the defining moments of his presidency. He is either too condescending or patronizing towards other world powers and its leaders - emphasizing again and again about his country's moral superiority but never really caring to justify the same - as if it's a given. It is a well documented fact now that in the entire American history he has abused executive overreach the most to get things done his way caring very little for congressional consent while upholding pillars of democracy in his speeches worldwide. To justify this he is quick to highlight the stalling tactics of Republican politicians as mean and a threat to the spirit of bipartisanship but later proudly describes similar tactics by Democrats as political shrewdness. While he describes at length how his election was symbolic of racial empowerment of the minorities till the end of the book we don't find much evidence of that claim. As an institutionalised centrist in his policies and modus operandi he has sought to preserve the status quo - ignoring pleas from different activists and advocacy groups to initiate structural reforms for a more just and heterogeneous political order.
I do see a lot of rave reviews of the book out there, however. So there is a high chance you might still like it very much. May be I did not get it and you might. Happy reading, I guess!

14 people found this helpful

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An endearing memoir

"Our history has always been a sum total of the choices made and the actions taken by each individual man and woman. It has always been upto us"

Managing a country is not simple. There's a backlash for everything done and undone. Millions of people's lives depend on a single act for which accountability is inescapable. Your actions are yours to own. That's the main takeaway from this book.

'A Promised Land' is a record of Obama's life; it can be considered as a continuation of his first book 'Dreams from my Father', till the end of his first term as President. With vivid accounts of every single decision made and people encountered, this book is the humanization of people working behind the scenes to ensure the stability and liveability of the world.

Going from electoral prospects, racial ties and familial responsibility to organizing counter-terrorist attacks, finding a new family at work and becoming a man of the people, Obama's journey is not only inspirational, but a pioneer to many more. Getting to know the first hand account of his struggles, fears and ultimate achievements has been a privilege.

Not only that, this is a book of hope. Hope that can be manifested within us, but not limited to it. Hope that has been the foundation stone for many innovative projects and doings. Hope for the future.

Listening to the audiobook narrated by the author himself was like listening to a 25+ hour speech of his that never left me bored! You can feel the emotions and memories flowing out of his words, which was an entirely different experience by itself.

Can't wait for the second volume to be released, even though it might take a year! Until then, I urge you to read this book. Just. Read. It.

6 people found this helpful

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Great story from a great leader

Loving it so far. 25% completed and looking forward to the rest. Obama is an inspiration.

6 people found this helpful

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Nothing better than listening to it from Obama

It's a fantastic book. If I didn't know all of this happened, it would still qualify to be a great written story. But it did happen. Throughout the book you can feel you are inside Obama's head as he takes each step and makes the decisions. While he narrates, all events you remember play out in your head. Brilliant book! Now waiting for the second part

4 people found this helpful

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it's not easy, but it's always possible!

Reading political memoirs can get a little overwhelming, but not this one. To listen to Barack Obama unbridged for 29+ hours was a treat. He describes the events with emotion, it feels as if you are in the Oval Office calling the shots. I am no expert to critique his presidency, but what I know is as a reader he lets you into his mind, he even leaves you with his dilemma at certain occassions.

Everyone dreams of a better world, without even mentioning he makes us think that the onus is on everyone, not just the government. We can do better. We are the change.

3 people found this helpful

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Brilliantly written and narrated

the book provides an amazing insight into the run up to Obama's presidency and his term. For a political novice like myself, I loved the brief background provided on each geo-political issue, it was like a lesson in modern history. Obama inspires you to be a part of the change you want to see through his story of following his ideals.

2 people found this helpful

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A treat

What better way to enjoy this masterpiece than the author himself reading it to you. Where else can u have such a connection and one on one with President Obama? Superb

1 person found this helpful

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Mesmerizing, his voice is superb, I just love it,

Just started and could not resist my feelings, I just love his mesmerizing voice superb

1 person found this helpful

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Detailed Events, narrated aptly

world events from charismatic leader, some of it appears one sided but all good thoughts and opinions.
specially health bill, climate change policy are good
however he never talks about the failures and mistakes and mis adventures , total mis management with IRAQ sending 30000 addition troops. policy error with Egypt and middle East.

over all good informative.

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the voice

Barack Obama's voice makes the book more interesting 😍 a good autobiography! elaborate but good

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  • Sean Rodrigues
  • 17-11-20

Sean R in Tokyo

Only a few chapters in.
Feels like a return to almost mythical times. Thoughtful, intelligent, respectful and...sane.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Avasmum
  • 29-11-20

Brilliant autobiography

I am not usually a fan of autobiographies but this one is excellent. I wasn't sure what 'tone' to expect but Obama sets a peaceful, considerate, and slightly humorous voice. I usually listen to books at 1.5x to 1.8x and I thought I'd have to run Obama's book at 2x because he talks so slowly but 1x has been just right.

I think anyone with an open mind would enjoy this book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-11-20

Can you ever choke in listening to a politician?

I am amazed by the balance of thoughts he has . Neither Left nor the Right sway him. His painful acknowledgment of compromises without ever having to justify his decisions is more striking . An awesome listening experience after a long time

3 people found this helpful

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  • Karl
  • 01-12-20

Modern History

Informative, insightful, funny and at the very least he could earn a living as an audio narrator.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Tamuka Makotore
  • 27-01-21

Can Volume 2 be released already!?

Well written, and well read. Touched on so mamy topics from the time he ran for president, to the time Bin Laden was killed. Although some topics were a bit cumbersome, it really helped that Obizy was the one reading the book. Key lesson i learnt is about surrounding yourself with the right people. We saw saw this from when he ran for office, and to the time he was president, how instrumental his team was.

Looking forward to Volume 2. Can i pre-order!?

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sridhar
  • 26-11-20

Masterpiece of a memoir. What a treat!

Amazing ring-side view of the major events that shaped the world during first term of President Obama. Gives a glimpse of the mind and heart of one of the greatest Presidents of the USA. It's even a bigger treat to listen to him read the book himself. Can't wait for the second volume to come out!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Chetan
  • 22-07-21

Works of president

This is just amazing, inspiring, and most importantly how a leader leads everyone! Protects his nation, brings equality, justice to world

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-07-21

Enjoyable narrative and story

Good insights given to his personal journey to congress and then Presidency, as well as his first years in office. Very candid sharing of what goes through behind his thought processes and his dynamics with both family and team supported him throughout the journey. Doesn’t seem to have time to catch a breather and things keep coming up one thing after another. Whether or not it is true, it’s his aide of the story that’s worth listening to.

Memorable stories / sharing includes:
1) his honest conversation with his wife when it seems a opportunity to hard to pass on to run for President;
2) how from time to time he had to balance his family and work;
3) how family became an important emotional support when things get too much;
4) learnings from him mom, nana and mother in law;
5) how he negotiated the Obama care and the compromise he had to work on because of the system;
6) managing the economic crisis (both the ones within US and the world at large)
7) the climate change issues (and his view when he was in Copenhagen where I was there as well);
8) managing the pentagon when it comes to juggling US and global security interest (especially about putting troops on the ground);
9) the love-hate relationship with the media;
10) his take on Asia (there’s breakdown of India, China and ASEAN); and
11) the eventual closure of 911 / Osama Bin Laden.

A huge plus the audiobook is narrated by himself so those who enjoy hearing him speak can indulge in his captivating way of expressing himself. It does add flavours and enjoyment to the book.

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  • Mark Bennett
  • 20-07-21

Great storyteller

Listening to Obama become president was great, but once in office some of the day to day events are a little difficult to push through. Great man and brilliant story teller.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-06-21

Straight from the Oval Office

This is a well written and well narrated . We get insights to the politics that main stream media usually avoid discussing due to their agendas. Doesn’t matter if you are independent , Left or Right he was a different kind of leader and this book confirmed the same .

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  • jesse
  • 17-11-20

Dropping a classic

History will look upon you favourably sir. You're an icon of your generation, I thank you for everything you represent.

111 people found this helpful

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  • Joseph K
  • 18-11-20

Breath of fresh air

Must read if you need your faith in politics restored especially after the last 4 years.

103 people found this helpful

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  • jessik
  • 19-11-20

Beautiful

Beautifully written, beautifully read. Listening to Obama speak again is truly calming in this chaotic world. A wonderful human, with such heart and optimism and still, so much joy. Even after having to leave all his hard work for that awful orange monster. My family immigrated to America in 2001 holding onto the American dream. I still believe the America in this book and in Obama’s heart, is possible. Hopefully Joe and Kamala will help point us in the right direction again. Xx

85 people found this helpful

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  • cara louise beckett
  • 19-11-20

Bloody fantastic!!

I am 12 chapters in and already in mourning because it will come to an end. You won't regret purchasing; it is enlightening, comforting, heartbreaking and fortifying - exactly what a 2020 weary soul needs

56 people found this helpful

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  • Dan
  • 22-11-20

Too long and bit boring at timew

The first part is interesting but then it gets boring. For anyone has been following the news during the Obama years, there isnt much new in this book and you didn’t know. Obama doesn’t reveal much about him, its more a list of policy achievements, and 29 hours of audio or more 700 pages to describe less than 3 years of presidency is too much. I love Obama, and his previous books. But this one is a bit disappointing, but still worth a read.

49 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-11-20

Frank

The most satisfying aspect of this book is its frankness about the broken, corrupt parts of the American political system. It reveals the distance between Obama's ideals and what was actually possible politically in the world as it is.

43 people found this helpful

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  • S. Langford
  • 21-11-20

Outstanding!

I’m six chapters in and this book is outstanding. Such brilliant narration! So articulated in his writing and delivery. Such an incredible story of hard work and personal sacrifice. All the humility and good grace you would expect to hear. Start it, you won’t regret it! I’m from the UK and I’m learning so much about the US political system but not in a heavy way. It’s honestly enthralling. Highly recommend listening to this book.

38 people found this helpful

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  • Abra Brash
  • 19-11-20

What a wonderful human being..... brilliant read

Barak Obama will forever be a treasure to America and other world leaders alike. Sadly he has run his presidency but if this in depth memoir is anything to go by and the timing of its release, it can be an aid to the new president elect (Biden) as a comprehensive refresher. Maybe the satsuma shaded runner up could of done with this book at the start of his inauguration. God bless Biden for tidying that orange mess and god bless America 🇺🇸

33 people found this helpful

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  • Jake lewis
  • 19-11-20

In-depth

An in-depth first hand account from one of the best known names in the world. From his early years to the end of his first 3 years in the white house. This is a great reflection on the history of Ameroca

24 people found this helpful

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  • paulthomas
  • 21-11-20

Blown away

Completely blown away , every aspect of this book is compelling . I must say I’m slightly bias in that I think Obama was a great president, and statesman. But he’s a truly lovely human being.
He covers all aspect’s of his presidency, but gives us a front seat into how it actually was. But then it’s a love letter to his wife. I’m on chapter 13, thank god it's almost 30 hours.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Rebecca
  • 23-11-20

My review

I was worried about the length, but I was hooked from the beginning! It was interesting to hear what he was thinking. He was not afraid to share his mistakes. He responded to critics with respect and tried to see their point of view. This was an amazing read and I'm so glad he shared this story.

28 people found this helpful

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  • James M
  • 28-11-20

Fantastic

This was an absolutely captivating and brutally honest account, made that much better by Obama reading it.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Hector Pieris
  • 27-11-20

Genuinely down to earth peaceful person.

Obama’s experience, struggles, thoughts, and hopes in some of the grand decisions, he made through out of his first couple of years, as the President of USA. This collaborative, thoughtful narrative is rich with his own writing and his voice for 29 hours. Even if you have no interest much politics you will be gravitate to this book from start to end - guaranteed!

13 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-12-20

long winded and boring

I was really looking forward to this book but couldn't finish it, the most boring long winded recollection of his life in politics.
not what I was hopping for.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Anna
  • 22-01-21

Beacon!

If just a handful more people could become like this man - an ordinary boy who grabbed every opportunity he could find to help the world become a better place and will never stop working and applying his extraordinary and accumlating skills, determination, analysis, subtelty and judgement to that end until his final breath. Amazing book. Will listen again and again for the layers of insights.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-11-20

i enjoyed every minute!

what great stories coming from the horse's mouth! the presidents narration added authenticity and it felt like he was just there telling you his stories.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Chris Williams
  • 17-12-20

Yawn...

Waaay too much detail on policy. Every decision he made has been recounted. I found myself skipping ahead through much of the second half. It could have been half as long for 95% of the population, though I understand his desire to want to put his entire perspective on the record and it's worth doing...though it's not worth listening to.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Brian Arpel
  • 30-11-20

Barack Obama, the best of the best.

A really fascinating insight into the workings of the White House and of American politics.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-05-21

Mind blowing

Obama is the greatest leader any country in the world has ever seen. Smarter than Einstein, more empathy than Mother Teresa, the best husband anyone has ever had and an even better father, funnier than Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle combined. 100% of negativity that happened in the 8 years of his presidency was Bush or other previous administration’s doing and anything good that happens in the next millennium will be a direct result of his actions. God only wishes he was as great as Obama - that’s what this author believes anyway...interesting to hear about what goes on in and around the political scene of the USA and shows what a disgraceful system it is

3 people found this helpful

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