The great communicator

Joe Tidy, presenter, event moderator, keynote speaker A short extract from Sir Craig Oliver‘s review of Barack Obama’s book ‘A Promised Land’

“Obama is a warm narrator, treating the reader like an old friend invited to a fireside chat. He’s also a gifted writer, striking the perfect balance between colour, detail, self-deprecation and the self-justification which is the necessary evil of most political memoirs.

The preface acknowledges the fear and loathing that characterises so much of current US politics, a mile away from Obama’s hope and change, making clear the promised land may be a pipe dream, asking key questions about America: “Do we care to match the reality to its ideals? If so, do we really believe that our notions of . . . equality of opportunity . . . apply to everybody? Or are we instead committed to reserving those things for a privileged few?”

He admits that at times he sees merit in the argument of sceptics who believe America has never been about equality and the real story has too often been “conquest and subjugation, a racial caste system and rapacious capitalism”. Despite that, he asserts he isn’t ready to abandon “the possibility of America”. The book isn’t always convincing in explaining why. It’s far better capturing the hoopla surrounding a candidate and President and also when at its most personal.”

Read the full review in Standpoint magazine here:

A Promised Land
By Barack Obama
Viking, 768pp, £35