Magazine February 22, 2021, Issue

Obama’s Memoir: Appraising a Presidency

Former president Barack Obama in Atlanta, Ga., November 2, 2020 (Brandon Bell/Reuters)
A Promised Land, by Barack Obama (Crown, 768 pp., $45)

Barack Obama’s third memoir weighs in at 751 pages of text. The man likes to talk. The book sounds like him. You don’t wonder, as you’re reading, whether this is the product of a ghostwriter. And for fans and historians, there is presumably much more to come, as this volume takes us only up to May 2011.

Obama aimed to help readers understand what it’s actually like to be president, and in that, he succeeded pretty well. He waxes lyrical about the beauty of the Rose Garden (and the dedication of its gardeners), he raises an eyebrow at the lavish gifts

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This article appears as “Appraising a Presidency” in the February 22, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


The Week

The Week

A San Francisco school board has voted to rename 44 schools the names of which are associated with ‘dishonorable legacies.’


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