President Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States of America, and has already written several autobiographical books. His new title, however, is the highly anticipated A Promised Land, which reflects on his tenure as the 44th President. It was recently released on the 17th of November 2020 and is one of two planned volumes. A Promised Land is said to be an enthralling and detailed personal account of not only his time in the Oval Office but his journey getting there. It has been a long-awaited memoir that has already begun breaking records.
In the first day of publication, A Promised Land sold nearly 890,000 copies in the United States and Canada in its first 24 hours. Barnes & Noble apparently sold 50,000 copies on the first day of publication, hoping to reach 500,000 in ten days. The memoir reached number one in both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble Charts. This trajectory is unprecedented for such a book, placing it in good stead to become the bestselling presidential memoir in modern history. In comparison, Bill Clinton’s memoir My Life sold approximately 400,000 copies on its first day and George W. Bush’s Decision Points, 220,000, both now around 3.5-4 million copies. Closer to Barack Obama’s figures, is the former first lady and his wife, Michelle Obama. Whose bestselling memoir Becoming was not far behind on its first day of publication, selling 725,000 copies in North America and now having reached 10m worldwide.
USA Today quoted David Drake, publisher of the Penguin Random House imprint Crown, who said: “We are thrilled with the first day sales, they reflect the widespread excitement that readers have for President Obama’s highly anticipated and extraordinarily written book.”
In a timely and astute move, Obama’s memoir was released soon after the Presidential Election – two weeks after former Vice President, Joe Biden was elected President and whilst election talk still echo, offering a sharp juxtaposition between Trump and Obama’s time in office. In a review, from Julian Borger of The Guardian sharply wrote:
To read Barack Obama’s autobiography in the last, snarling days of Donald Trump is to stare into an abyss between two opposite ends of humanity, and wonder once again at how the same country came to choose two such disparate men.
Somewhere at the top of a long list of contrasts is their grasp of language and facts. On the eve of the book’s publication, Trump has been emitting staccato tweets about winning an election he has decisively lost, a claim formally labelled within 10 minutes as disinformation. At the other end of the scale, Obama’s A Promised Land is 701 pages of elegantly written narrative, contemplation and introspection, in which he frequently burrows down into his own motivations.
Obama makes clear he believes the whiplash from the 44th to 45th president is no accident. On the contrary, the mere fact that an accomplished, intelligent, scandal-free black man inhabited the White House was enough to trigger his antithesis.’
The memoir apparently took longer to arrive than expected, as more and more topics for discussion came to prominence since Obama’s time as President. In his introduction, written in August 2020, Obama stated that “the book kept growing in length and scope” as he worked through unanticipated conditions such as Black Lives Matter and the Coronavirus Pandemic.
A Promised Land follows Obama’s path to the White House, from early political work to becoming the first African American to hold the highest office. It traces his time as president through both struggles and pivotal moments such as the killing of Osama bin Laden. Obama offers a reflective and insightful view into the presidency and politics and apparently looks honestly at other world leaders and his experience with them during his presidency.
Part of the blurb reads:
‘…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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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…’