It will always be funny to me that Michelle Obama released her memoir, Becoming, went on a huge book tour, got a podcast and did like a million other things… all before her husband even finished his presidential-years book. Turns out, Barack Obama had so much to write, he’s doing a two-volume series. And the first volume will be released two weeks after the election. Obama announced the news on social media with this message:
There’s no feeling like finishing a book, and I’m proud of this one. I’ve spent the last few years reflecting on my presidency, and in A Promised Land I’ve tried to provide an honest accounting of my presidential campaign and my time in office: the key events and people who shaped it, my take on what I got right and the mistakes I made, and the political, economic, and cultural forces that my team and I had to confront then—and that as a nation we are grappling with still.
In the book, I’ve also tried to give readers a sense of the personal journey that Michelle and I went through during those years, with all the incredible highs and lows. And finally, at a time when America is going through such enormous upheaval, the book offers some of my broader thoughts on how we can heal the divisions in our country going forward and make our democracy work for everybody—a task that won’t depend on any single president, but on all of us as engaged citizens. Along with being a fun and informative read, I hope more than anything that the book inspires young people across the country—and around the globe—to take up the baton, lift up their voices, and play their part in remaking the world for the better.
I’m reminded of the fact that Hillary Clinton’s First Lady memoir was considered a much better book than her husband’s book – it’s because former presidents think they need to do detailed accounting of who said what and when, and they tend to get lost in the weeds. I bet it will be that way with A Promised Land – it will make news, I’m sure, and it will sell, but people will simply *like* Michelle’s book more, because it’s more readable and less wonky and procedural.
I’m curious about the timing too – surely, Obama’s publisher would have preferred for Obama to do a book tour in the final weeks of the election cycle? Surely everyone around Obama would have wanted him to repeatedly bait Trump in interview after interview in late October? It would drive up book sales AND help agitate the Democratic base. So why is the release date after the election? Hm.
Photos courtesy of Instagram, Avalon Red, Backgrid.