Greetings, readers! My name is Sareeta Domingo, and I’m an author and fiction editor. It’s my great pleasure to be bringing you a Book of the Week, each week here on Morning Mari.
Last week, much of the world breathed a collective sigh of relief as Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. So this week, I decided my Book of the Week selection should be Barack Obama’s A Promised Land, the first volume of the recent memoir of number 44, under whom Biden served as Vice President.
The book is an epic account of Obama’s first term in office as president, and also encompasses his initial, historic campaign for the nomination, and then for the role itself. It feels somewhat incredible now to think that the United States elected its first Black president on the basis of such positive ideals as hope and change, but the book serves as a welcome way of re-living the jubilation so many of us felt at that time.
Much of A Promised Land goes into sometimes perhaps overly-specific detail about policy making and the ins and outs of key decisions made over the course of Obama’s presidency. However, I was very struck by how much it laid bare the spinning plates he had to balance in terms of leading a country like the United States, domestically in terms of things like the huge economic issues after the sub-prime mortgage bubble burst, and in terms of vast and varied issues of foreign policy. In particular, his explanations of the issues of universal healthcare in the US really clarified the challenges he faced in galvanising the country towards what would be known as Obamacare in a way I’d never heard laid bare before.
The book truly comes alive in Obama’s skillful descriptions and evocative recollections— for example, giving, when we encounter them, quick descriptive sketches of a huge range of the people involved in his presidency, from world leaders to members of the White House staff, that really bring each scene to life.
His reminiscences of his concerns about the challenges facing his children and his marriage to Michelle Obama during his presidency are also affecting, as is his description of the emotional toll of not being able to be at his dying mother’s bedside due to his campaign. Despite its length, I’d highly recommend giving it a read (or a listen on audiobook like I did). It’s a skillfully written, fascinating account of Barack Obama’s first four years in office, and that is why A Promised Land is my Book of the Week this week.