“The world is complicated, Bar. That’s why it’s interesting.”
These were the words of Stanley Ann Dunham, mother of the forty-fourth president of the United States of America. “Mr. President” for the world but for his mother, he was her dearest Bar (pronounced as bear). He was largely influenced by his mother.
“Since I didn’t know my father, he didn’t have much input,” writes Barack Obama. It’s clear that his mother played one of the most crucial roles in his life. Out of all the amazing lessons she passed on to him, the most important one was the lesson of kindness.
A Promised Land (Review)
She believed that essentially there are two kinds of people. In her words, “There are people in the world who only think about themselves. They don’t care what happens to other people so long as they get what they want…Then there are people who do the opposite, who are able to imagine how others must feel, and make sure that they don’t do things that hurt people.”
“Which kind of person do you want to be?”
His mother’s question stayed with him forever.
Evidently, women have influenced Barack Obama’s life to a great extent. From Toot (his grandmother) to his mother to Michelle Obama and finally his two beautiful daughters, they changed his life in their own unprecedented ways. However, being there for his family and at the same time maintaining a striking pose as a politician was stormy and uncomfortable. Obama recollects his early defeats with nothing but honesty and humility. He writes, “I was almost forty, broke, coming off a humiliating defeat and with my marriage strained.” But was he becoming a better politician? Were the defeats making him a stronger candidate for the U.S. political landscape? Apparently, Obama didn’t think so. He goes on to write, “…I had become the very thing that, as a younger man, I had warned myself against. I had become a politician – and not a very good one at that.”
Did you know? Michelle Obama also wrote a memoir named “Becoming”! [Recommended]
Obama talks about “The audacity of hope” in his memoir, and how after his defeats, he didn’t quite surrender to his failures. He is not a believer in destiny, though. He thinks it “encourages resignation” and “complacency among the powerful.”
It was hard on Michelle to witness Obama’s political ambitions skyrocket. She wondered, “When is it going to be enough?” to which Obama had anything but a substantial answer. However, it was Michelle’s one ultimate question that set the game on for the Obamas as a family..@BarackObama talks about "The audacity of hope" in his memoir #APromisedLand, and how after his defeats, he didn't quite surrender to his failures. Click To Tweet
“Why do you need to be president?”
Well, you have to read the book to know the answer, but in Michelle’s words, “that was a pretty good answer.”
Running for president meant campaigning for a crazy number of hours and staying away from family. Obama shares every little description of his time while he campaigned. It’s almost like witnessing his journey with your own eyes. He doesn’t go deep into his childhood or college days. His book is more about his political journey rather than his personal journey. Obama also talks about self-doubt. And personally, I found that specially endearing. The youth right now is going through a turbulent period. Rejection and job unavailability is taking a stride on people’s mental health and self-esteem. It’s only natural to indulge in self-doubt.
However, Ted Kennedy’s words still make the hair on the back of my neck stand. He says, “The power to inspire is rare… You think you may not be ready, that you’ll do it at a more convenient time. But you don’t choose the time. The time chooses you.”
Winning the elections was just the beginning, though. What would make America great again? The first step would involve righting the wrongs. The lessons his mother taught him early in his childhood stayed with him. He knew the kind of person he wanted to be – he wanted to be the person who wouldn’t do things that hurt people. However, when awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, his reaction was rather dull. “For what?” he asked Robert Gibbs, who took him the news of his win.
A Promised Land also happens to be one of the greatest memoirs because of the sheer honesty and bluntness of Barack Obama. He didn’t shy away from sharing his real opinions regarding other nations and their political heads. He defines Putin in all his honesty while also keeping a respectful tone underneath. He talks about his respect for China in eradicating extreme poverty while also discussing the damage it has caused America simultaneously.
He has dedicated a substantial amount of attention to his visit to India as well. He starts with his love and admiration for India. Since he spent some years of his childhood in Indonesia, he was pretty acquainted with the epic Hindu tales of Ramayana and Mahabharata. He also writes that his Pakistani and Indian college friends taught him to cook daal and keema. They also interested him in Bollywood movies. Therefore, he was definitely connected to India in his own unique way.
But out of all the things that fascinated him towards India, the greatest influence came from Mahatma Gandhi. He writes, “Along with Lincoln, King, and Mandela, Gandhi had profoundly influenced my thinking.” Obama writes that he had the “strongest wish to sit beside him and talk.” He wanted to learn so much from Gandhi. He wanted to know “how he’d recovered from disappointment.” The former Prime minister, Manmohan Singh, impressed Obama greatly. He mentions Manmohan Singh as the “fitting emblem” of India’s economic transformation and progress. He calls him “a man of uncommon wisdom and decency.”
Obama finishes the book with one of the most important chapters of his life and America’s history – taking down Bin-Laden. He shares his experience through the whole process, right from the preliminary phase to the actual operation.
Enemy killed in action.
These were the very words that the entire team was dying to listen to. Osama Bin Laden was codenamed “Geronimo” for the said operation. But killing him wasn’t the end. Obama writes, “I expected my most difficult call to be with Pakistan’s beleaguered president, Asif Ali Zardari.”
When he started writing his memoir, he planned to cover it within five hundred pages. But as he went on with his writing, he realized it would be impossible. Reading “A Promised Land” is almost like listening to Obama’s speeches. Just as straightforward and striking. His words hit home, and in a very strange fashion, the man who made history seems so relatable.
Everyone has an opinion on him; some like him while others don’t. But no matter which war camp you belong to, reading this book will most definitely be a humbling experience.
A Promised Land
"The world is complicated, Bar. That's why it's interesting."
Author: Barack Obama