Casual Book Review: A Promised Land

by Barack Obama


A Casual Book Review


Politics is as messy, complicated, and controversial as it is important.

How can any one individual navigate such a vast landscape without being overwhelmed? Without getting tangled in the web of any of its already perplexing niches—all of which are interconnected in subtle yet meaningful ways?

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. But I think this book is certainly one place to start.

As former US President Barack Obama walks you through his first term in office, it’s almost impossible not to be impressed by the depth of his understanding of the forces driving change in our world; and awed by the clarity of his introspection.

Put yourself in his shoes. No really, try it.

  • Imagine being tasked with charting your country’s path to recovery from the worst financial crisis in your lifetime.
  • Imagine being tasked with developing the affordable healthcare infrastructure that will support millions of your nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
  • Imagine being tasked with effectively charting the entire world’s path to recovery from the worst climate crisis in history.

Do you know how or even where you would start? If not, wouldn’t you like to?

Deliberate and purposeful—yet witty and informal, Obama walks a tightrope few other authors can. He paints for the reader the big picture of politics; which serves to hold your attention while he saturates it with all the detail and nuance necessary to get a good understanding of the fundamentatals.

He tackles a wide range of these including but not limited to: nuclear weapons proliferation, the reach and the limits of executive power, the increasing polarization and partisanship of modern politics, the inefficiencies of government, natural disaster response and preparedness, immigration reform, diplomacy and foreign affairs, and of course not to mention healthcare and wall street reform.

An incredibly skilled orator, prepare to be disarmed by his wit, charm, and sheer authenticity. You’ll find yourself inspired, and thinking bigger—about the entirety of the world—as opposed to just your little corner of it.

In fact, I think books like this are a great answer to the question “Why read books?” and especially “Why heavy non-fiction books?”

Because, simply put, when you’re empowered with a wider perspective on life, you can expect to make wiser choices about life. And this book covers some of the topics that matter the most. I’d gladly recommend it to anyone interested in politics, and especially to anyone uninterested in politics. It’s well worth your time.

I’ll leave you with a quote I’m reminded of by the famous philosopher Albert Camus:

“Life is the sum of all your choices.

So, what are you doing today?”