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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

NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAACP IMAGE AWARD NOMINEE • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times • NPR • The GuardianMarie Claire

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 readers 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 readers 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.

©2021 Barack Obama (P)2021 Random House Audio

What listeners say about A Promised Land

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I wanted to love this eAudiobook so much more

Let me start off by saying that this Canadian loves and misses the Obamas. I respect both Barack and Michelle for what they accomplished (and tried to accomplish) in his two terms as President of the United States and Michelle's role as First Lady. I enjoyed seeing Barack balance being world leader and devoted husband and father. He seemed like an all-around nice guy who wanted (and still wants) to do good for his country.

So, it pains me to rate this book lower than expected (particularly because I adored Michelle's book, Becoming two years ago. Like, I totally fan-girled her!) When Barack began reading this audiobook, he made the comment that he struggles with brevity - ya, you can take that comment to the bank! This is a 29 hour and 10-minute audiobook (the longest I've ever listened to) and I enjoyed that he narrates his book himself. He's got a wonderful, smooth depth to his voice, but the man talks sooooo slow. So slow that I had to increase the playing speed to 1.4x.

This book is simply too long and not nearly as personal as I had hoped. While Barack includes some insight into his private life, the bulk of the book focuses on every political decision he made leading up to and during his first term as President of the United States. And it often feels like he spends most of the page time defending his decisions. For those well-versed in all things American politics, this is right up your alley. But for this non-politically savvy Canadian, the detail was too much, and it wasn't a good fit for my reading tastes.

I enjoyed and respected how candid President Obama is with his opinions on people and events and was surprised that, at times, his writing is quite descriptive and almost poetic - the sights, sounds and even smells he remembers. But I wanted more insight into the man - not an overly detailed description of every political decision and each person he met along the way. He's an overthinker and I can empathize (believe me I can!), but in this autobiography I wanted to learn about the man behind the White House. I got snippets, but this was a much drier and less succinct read than I had expected. Even though there was a ridiculous debate about his birth certificate, you can rest assured that his middle name is not brevity.

In the end, I'm glad I listened to this book, but I wanted a more personal read. Did I enjoy it? Unfortunately, kind of but not nearly as much as I had hoped. But I continue to be a huge fan of his and Michelle's and I hope they continue to do great things to support their country, particularly in the aftermath of the last four years.

86 people found this helpful

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Obama reads this himself!

Obama reads this himself! I love hearing his views. Also, he is an incredible narrator.

51 people found this helpful

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A true Man of Mankind

This is an inspiration for all. What an example of compassion, understanding, empathy and love. Its testimony of what can be achieved when you believe in each other🇨🇦🙏♥️

15 people found this helpful

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Insightful and engaging listen

I really enjoyed listening to this book. President Obama's experience was very insightful and engaging. I liked very much the narration.

14 people found this helpful

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So much to admire

I’ve been looking forward to listening to this book for some time. (I got the audiobook version as I felt the narration by the author adds so much to the telling).

Like I thought would be the case, I was thoroughly impressed. The Obama family is a true inspiration, and it was intensely interesting to me to be swept into the more intimate goings on and decision making that took place during the Obama administration and in his pre-presidency years.

There’s just so much to admire in these pages. And there’s so much that’s left wanting when you compare the deliberation, generosity and intentionality behind Obama’s years in the White House, and the hate-spewing, divisive, dumpster fire that’s been the Trump campaign and administration. Yikes. Such an astonishing difference that was clear before but is hugely highlighted here.

This excerpt from the beginning stages of the book delivered exactly on what I was expecting and looking forward to:

“Do we care to match the reality of America to its ideals? If so, do we really believe that our notions of self government and individual freedom, equality of opportunity and equality before the law, apply to everybody? Or are we instead committed, in practice if not in statue, to reserving those things for a privileged few?”

“I recognize that there are those who believe that it’s time to discard the myth. That an examination of America’s past and an even cursory glance at today’s headlines show that the nation’s ideals have always been secondary to conquest and subjugation, a racial caste system and rapacious capitalism and that to pretend otherwise is to be complicit in a game that was rigged from the start. And I confess, that there have been times during the course of writing this book, as I’ve reflected on my presidency and all that’s happened since, when I’ve had to ask myself whether I was too tempered in speaking the truth as I saw it, too cautious in either word or deed, convinced as I was that by appealing to what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” I stood a better chance of leading us in the direction of the America we’ve been promised. I don’t know. What I can say for certain is that I’m not yet ready to abandon the possibility of America. Not just for the sake of future generations of Americans, but for all of human kind.”

He’s just so great.

From minutes into the book, I was assured I was in for an entertaining, enlightening read, with compassionate and deep commentaries on the state of America, from its politics to its people, the goodness and absurd cruelty entangled within.

10 people found this helpful

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Beautifully written

great book going into detail of the President's mindset during his years both before and during his first presidential term

8 people found this helpful

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amazing but a bit too long

should’ve made it like 5 hours shorter. it’s 30 hours long like that’s pretty long a day and 6 hours to listen to a book

7 people found this helpful

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Inspiring

Truly inspiring. I laughed and yes, at times I cried. Found Obama's recitation profound and captivating. As a Canadian, I envy the US for having had this great man as a leader. His influence was felt and respected around the world.

4 people found this helpful

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The Audacity of Hope

A well written, thoughtful and it times sober recounting of right years plus. My have times changed. Thank you Mr. President.

4 people found this helpful

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Fantastic historical perspective

Great listen! It was nice to get a glimpse of his point of view. A class act all the way. I look forward to the next volume.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Angela
  • 2020-11-19

Color me grateful.

Mr. President,

Thank you for writing this beautiful book, it reads like poetry, so fluid, so pure. And, it’s perfect for such a time as this.
I am grateful for this book: a healing balm to my soul.
Kindly,
Ángela 🙏🏾❤️

149 people found this helpful

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  • Bonnie
  • 2020-11-23

Show and painful rehash

I don’t know what I expected; this S L O W moving narrative was not it. Half way through and thoroughly confused by the economic plans I’m finally giving up. This one is apparently for a much more patient and developed intellect than I have!

141 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-11-18

Exceptional!Could not have been more aptly titled.

I am only halfway through the book and I'm savoring every chapter. it is with humor, facts over feelings where needed...the walk-through in civics, priceless and awesome to have it narrated by the author himself! Will also purchase hardcover.

114 people found this helpful

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  • S E. L
  • 2020-11-20

I know you might not read this but... 😄

I'm crying and listening to this book. As a maid I can picture the cleaning crew and butlers joy serving for you. What an honor!! As a Jehovahs Witness it was nice the mention in your book. As a latina thank you for the César Chaver National Park. I can relate to your thoughts that so much history gets omitted in schools. For the epilogue in you next part 2 book I would like to read about when you get to hang your presidential picture in the white house. I can't wait to see that day. I keep dreaming of that day for 4 years.

111 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-11-26

Worse audiobook

What makes this the worse audiobook for me is that Obama in my opinion tries/attempts to be relatable yet comes out unrelatable. This made me question myself— is it because of my personal suffrage or my upbringing or experience in life and it’s endeavors. Why can’t I relate to this great man. Overall, the book feels unauthentic.

106 people found this helpful

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  • Nadmiral
  • 2020-12-10

A real snoozer

As much as I love listening to obama speak, I think he is better suited for speeches and interviews. I can’t help but fall asleep. A lot of boring details.

98 people found this helpful

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  • Lucian Graves
  • 2020-11-18

A president from Hawaii with an aloha spirit.

This book is absolutely delightful! It will make you laugh, cry, and feel inspired. Obama tells a story of a his journey from being born in Hawaii raised without a father to becoming America’s first biracial African American president. As a fellow Hawaii native, this story and his legacy will always be held in a sacred place in my heart.

96 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-12-02

Better than Nyquil

If you're having trouble sleeping this book is perfect for you. Almost as fun as reading a math textbook.

90 people found this helpful

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  • J. R.
  • 2020-11-17

Amazing

I love memoirs and autobiographies read by the author, gives us such a personal connection to their minds to how a true leader should conduct himself or herself.

Heavy on financial reform, light on the 2016 election, and a good mix of personal anecdotes, although I wish he discussed life after the White House, which isn't mentioned at all.

79 people found this helpful

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  • Scott Canali
  • 2020-11-19

Outstanding and fascinating!

Barack Obama tells his story (through his 1st term) as only he can - with candor, humor, and fascinating detail. You can tell he enjoyed reading it - and writing it. And you’re going to *love* listening to it!!

67 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-11-22

A wonderful book written by an icon of our time

If you want to know what happened around the world in the last years, if you want to feel the ups and downs of being the president of the United States of America, if you need an inspiring story that motivates and challenges you to be better and make a difference: that's your must read book!

P.S. Some people say that it is too long. Well, I read it in just 3 days and I cannot wait to read the second part!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Andriamisy
  • 2020-12-02

EXCELLENTISSIME COMME LA BONNE SOUSOUPE

Barack est vachement cool comme mec ça ce sent bien. J'ai dégusté ma bonne sousoupe dans le château de soupex tout en écoutant le livre qui m'a rassassié. MERCI KINDLE MERCI BARACK

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kristina Jasaityte
  • 2021-02-10

Obama reading good on super - 5 stars!

The fact that the book is read by Obama makes the listening experience truly authentic and captivating. Couldn’t recommend enough!

1 person found this helpful

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  • David Taylor
  • 2021-04-13

A bit boring to be honest

Well read, glad I read it but fairly tough going at times. Worth a read ultimately.

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  • Client d'Amazon
  • 2021-04-05

Very detailed!

Such a long book but very interesting to here Obama’s presidency in his uninterrupted words.

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  • FERNANDES SOUSA Céline
  • 2021-03-23

Very good autobiography

Was very good way to look at Obama's decision/accomplishments during his firsts years at the White House ! and I love when the author read his own book!!

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  • monfre
  • 2021-02-14

Excellent

Learnt a lot. I enjoyed the background histories sprinkled throughout the book. Good insight into american politics. Looking forward to the next volume.

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  • Sophie welch
  • 2021-02-03

Magnificent

I think this is his best book yet. Very well written and gives you a great point of view of his first term.

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  • Kat
  • 2021-01-11

an inside look

really enjoyed this book! I'm not interested in politics at all but really enjoyed and was interested to hear President Obama explain his presidency!

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  • Bryan Lancelot
  • 2020-12-29

Captivant.

La lecture Par M. Obama rend l'écoute passionnante et vivante. L'élocution est très claire et rends l'écoute fluide et reposante.
Le point de vue est très intéressant.