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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The number one Sunday Times and Audible best seller.

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.

Winner of best narration by the author – Audie Awards 2022.

©2020 Barack Obama (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"What is unexpected in A Promised Land is the former president's candour." (David Olusoga, Observer)

"Gorgeously written, humorous, compelling, life affirming." (Justin Webb, Mail on Sunday)

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!

21 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

7 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.

7 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.

4 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.

3 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

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mv
  • 28-04-22

A great audible

The prose in which Obama narrated the 29hrs is simply awesome.

His intricate thinking and genuine fears behind all that decision making he had to do during his years as the president of the US should tell us that even the once powerful man on earth has to live with the decisions just like any common man, just that his decisions have far more consequences on everyone and he has to live with it.

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A promised land

Empowering inner view of a prisoner of Power. Irony, Paradox are some words that fleet as you hear. on reflection though, grit, clarity, value, audacity, hope surface and stay.

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Obama's perspective

Obviously America centric - definitely kindle the patriotism. No holds barred on Republicans. For non americans - certain parts will entice an eye roll but no complaints as it is book by a US President. The parts until winning the election were inspiring. Overall this account reaffirms that he is one of the better men to have become the President in the recent times. There are significant portions about family which is quite touching.

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enjoyed thoroughly

Barak obama's narration is an experience in it self
a fusion of personal and official life happenings with an emotional touch in both .
good language, open hearted in both the aspects of life.
it's a pleasure to listen to his voice ....for such a long time.
wonderful experience.

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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.

13 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.

5 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

4 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.

3 people found this helpful

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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.

1 person 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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  • Gurkeerat Gill
  • 06-02-22

Review of The Promised Land - From a Far Off Land

Today evening walk was a bit special. today I finished listening to this book. it started late in 2020, hoping to finish in the early weeks of 2021. but the go-stop-go approach lingered and the finishing line extended to this 6th February 2022 evening. The book by a black American president, is a story of incredible intellect, deep understanding of political affairs and incisive analysis of complex situations. From a hesitant entrant into politics, Mr Barrack Obama reached the pinnacle without any Godfather in high places. his writing in word and voice in audible really makes it a great listen. It is a book to be read/listened at one's pace, absorbing the deep insights and relating them to one's own experiences, particularly if the Reader/Listener share the vocation to some extent with the Author. tells a lot about how to conduct public affairs with practicable hints. the story rightly ends with the most important action of President Obama in his first Presidency. told with precise words the story comes alive - almost the purring of helicopter wings audible in one's ears. congratulations to the Author, The Penguins and Audible to bring it up - so that it is in reach of many. I will now start with the Print Edition.

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  • Oluwakorede Asuni
  • 31-01-22

A great read

Obama allowed a window for us to peel into the inner workings of his first term in office and the lead up to that.

This helped tie up some of the loose strings of information one had as an outsider.

Additionally, for a more than passive supporter and observer of Obama and Obama's first term in office, it was quite exhilarating to relive some of the memorable moments and to learn the back stories to some of those.

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  • Annabel Roberts
  • 20-12-21

Inspirational and BRILLIANT

Barack Obama is truly a light in a dark world. This autobiographical account of his first term in office takes the listener on a journey into his motivations for the difficult choices he has made. His idealism and moral compass are beacons that all should follow. I am South African and have only ever had a vague eye on American politics yet this book was easily accessible, somewhat amusing and thoroughly enjoyable. I love that the author read it himself!

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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.

121 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.

107 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

92 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

62 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.

56 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.

44 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.

43 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 🇺🇸

34 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.

26 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

25 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.

29 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!

15 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.

14 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

8 people found this helpful

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