Book Review: ‘The Promised Land’


Elyssa Lieu

‘A Promised Land’ is part of The Presidential Memoirs series.

Elyssa Lieu, Senior Editor

Former president Barack Obama’s book, ‘The Promised Land’, published in December 2020, gave us hope by reminding America what the true mission of the US government is: to serve the people.

I started the book unaware of its length, but as a heads-up, it’s quite a hefty read. The sheer mass of pages may seem daunting, but it’s worth spending a week or more on this book. 

The Man Behind the Novel

Obama’s well-known wit and humor made it an absorbing novel to read. One of the key characteristics of his autobiography is his concentration upon the people who have either helped or influenced him along his way. Obama spends quite a lot of time introducing each person.  He goes into depth on their backgrounds, personalities, and his experiences with them. It serves as a reminder for the reader to think about what people are most important in their lives.

A Lot is Happening

The constant slew of characters and political information can serve to dizzy readers at times. For example, I juggled an ever-expanding cast along with potential economic policies his advisors proposed. There’s attempts to balance this out by interjecting with personal anecdotes of Obama’s experiences. However, it often falls short of maintaining a balance between both levity and gravity. The book is not so much about Obama’s presidency, as it is about why Obama was elected president.

Political Discussion

The politics, as described earlier, tend to take a backseat to the reasons behind why they were made. When their impacts are examined, Obama’s thoughts years after their implementation is unexpectedly valuable in both substance and shortness. He minces no words in acknowledging times where he fell short, and times where he feels the criticism he received wasn’t justified.


‘The Promised Land’ isn’t a book that seeks to answer all your questions about America’s politics and where we stand today. Rather, it’s a book aimed toward a message of hope, in a time when America is struggling. It is likely best suited for those who don’t object to long introductions before getting to the main meat of the story. The most appealing trait about this book is its accessibility for everyone, no matter if you have no idea about politics or if you avidly follow ABC every morning.