Obama - A Promised Land - My favourite excerpts

Finally got my grubby hands on this ebook after being on the NLB waitlist since Nov 2020! Here are some of my favourite excerpts. 

Moral conscience

"You know, Barry," she said, "there are people in the world who think only abuot themselves. They don't care what happens to other people so long as they get what they want. They put other people down to make themselves feel important. "

"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. So, which kind of person do you want to be?" - Obama's mother, Ann Dunham Pg35

Obama's youth

I was "not a budding leader but rather a lackadaisical student, a passionate basketball player of limited talent, and an incessant, dedicated partyer. No student government for me; no Eagle Scouts or interning at the local congressman's office. Through high school, my friends and I didn't discuss much beyond sports, girls, music, and plans for getting loaded.  Pg 38

Personal awakening

"For three years in New York, holed up in a series of dilapidated apartments, largely shorn of old friends and bad habits, I lived like a monk - reading, writing, filling up journals, rarely bothering with college parties or even eating hot meals. I got lost in my head, preoccupied with questions that seemed to layer themselves one over the next. What made some movements succeed where others have failed? Was it a sign of success when portions of a cause were absorbed by conventional politics, or was it a sign that the cause had been hijacked? When was compromise acceptable and when was it selling out,  and how did one know the difference? Oh, how earnest I was then - how fierce and humorless. " Pg 45


"I took it upon myself to purge some softness with a regimen of self-improvement that I've never entirely shed. (Michelle and the girls point out that to this day I can't get into the pool or the ocean without feeling compelled to swim laps. 'Why don't you just wade?' they'll say with a snicker. 'It's fun. Here... we'll show you how...) I made lists. I started working out, going for runs around the Central Park Reservoir or along the East River and eating cans of tuna fish and hard boiled eggs for fuel. I stripped myself of excess belongings - who needs more than five shirts?"

Haha, who would have thought Obama was an essentialist/ miminalist? Haha. Thought he was a Virgo for a sec but he's a Leo with a rising sign of Aquarius. Haha!


"The power to inspire is rare. Moments like this 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. Either you seize what may turn out to be the only chance you have, or you decide you're willing to live with the knowledge that the chance has passsed you by." Ted Kennedy

He's got the grumps

Obama describes the grind behind getting elected. It really takes a toll!

"Are you having any fun?"' he asked.

"No," I said.

"Anything we can do to make this more fun?"



Small but powerful

"The makeup of our donor base was shifting.Small donations in ten, twenty or hundred dollar increments started pouring in, from college students who pledged their Starbucks budget or grandmas who'd taken up a sewing circle collection. 

This is not all up to you, these donations told us. We are here, on the ground, millions of us scattered across the country - and we believe. we are all in. " Pg 202 This was so moving!

Funny billboard ideas



"There were reports that I had been schooled in an Indonesian madrassa, which gained enough traction that a CNN correspondent actually travelled to my old elementary school in Jakarta, where he found a bunch of kids wearing Western-style uniforms and listening to New Kids on the Block on their iPods." Pg 283

Renegade on the move

Obama's security code name was Renegade, assigned to him even though he was just a candidate. This was not the norm, but the number of threats directed his way exceeded anything the Secret Service had ever seen before. Pg 293 

A renegade is someone who is a deserter, or someone who rejects conventional behaviour.

"Renegade to Secondary Hold", whic was their discreet way of saying I was going to the bathroom. Pg 519


Obama wrote a prayer on a piece of paper and pushed it deep into a crevice into the wall, as per custom. "I had assumed those words were between me and God. But the next day the showed up in an Israeli newspaper. Apparently a bystander dug my scrap of paper out of the wall after we left." Pg 340


Over the course of the campaign, Obama received many good luck charms from his supporters.

"My assortment of charms grew steadily: a miniature Buddha, an Ohio buckeye, a laminated four-leaf clover, a tiny bronze likeness of Hanuman the monkey god, all manners of angels, rosary beads, crystals, and rocks. Each morning, I made a habit of choosing five or six of them and putting them in my pocket, half consciously keeping track of which ones I had with me on a particularly good day." Pg 402

Get Ready Songs

"Ultimately, it was rap that got my head in the right place, two songs especially. Jay-Z's My 1st Song, and Eminem's Lose Yourself.  Pg 403

Manic energy

What Sarkozy lacked in ideological consistency, he made up for in boldness, charm, and manic energy.  Pg 688

Singapore and ASEAN

"In a sense, Singapore remained exceptional. Most of the other ASEAN countries still struggled with varying levels of entrenched poverty, just as their commitment to democracy and the rule of law remained wildly uneven. One thing they seemed to have in common, though, was a shift in how they imagined themselves. The people I talked to - whether heads of state, businesspeople, or human rights activists - remained respectful of American power. But they no longer viewed the West as the centre of the world, with their own countries inalterably cast as bit players. Instead, they considered themselves at least equal to their former colonisers, their dreams for their people no longer capped by geography or race. " Pg 975

End thoughts

It's not every day you get to pick a President's brain! A fine read. As much as the official work he has to tackle every day was good to know, my favourite parts of the books were when he shares his personal stories. It's also fun to see how official figures are like, and what Obama's impressions of them were. Obama also mentions how Michelle's own life has taken a huge swerve, but that is explored in Michelle's book, Becoming, which I also highly recommend! 

There's lots to learn from them and I am inspired by their courage to stand up for the things they believe in. Their tenacity is amazing. Hats off.