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The Saturday Book Review: A Promised Land
The Saturday Book Review
Title: A Promised Land
Author: Barack Obama
Publisher: Penguin /Viking
TNA Rating: *****
Barack Obama the First Black President of the United States of America, electrified the world with his famous 2008 Presidential Election Victory Speech “Yes We Can” and ignited hopes of a United States moving toward a path breaking term during his tenure.
He took on his responsibilities, with a Hope and a Vision to take the Free American Spirit to a new high.
A Promised Land is the first volume of his endeavour to take the reader through the challenges and his impressions of the fast changing world landscape. And of the hope of a large margianalised section of the American Population who saw in him a vehicle of change.
Through his book he tries to open threadbare and express his experiences and observations of some of his efforts, major events and challenges that he had to encounter during his presidency.
From excerpts of his early phase of campaigning for the presidency, to the handling of the Financial crisis, negotiations with Russia on the Nuclear Arms Control, forces that led to the Arab Spring, the Abbottabad mission to neutralise Osama bin Laden, his India experience and vision, the challenge of Racism and the deaths of unarmed black men, recruitment of LGBTQ Community in the Armed Forces, all have been handled with the honesty and transparency as only Obama can.
His first experience of the Oval Office “Although i had visited the White House several times as a U.S.Senator. I had never been inside the Oval Office before i was elected president. The room is smaller than you might expect.....”
His candid confession “There was a final stress reliever that i didn’t lie to talk about, one that had been a chronic source of tension throughout my marriage. I was still smoking five(six or seven) cigarettes a day. It was the lone vice that had carried over from the rebel days of my youth.At Michelle’s insistence, I had quit several times over the years, and i never smoked in the house or in front of the kids.”
His deep concern of the economy and unemployment “That month another estimated 663,000 Americans would lose their jobs, with the unemployment rate shooting up to 8.5 percent.
Foreclosures showed no signs of abating, and credit remained frozen.The stock market hit what would be its lowest point of the recession, down 57% from its peak, with shares of Citigroup and Bank of America approaching penny-stock status.AIG , meanwhile, was like a bottomless maw, its only apparent function being to gobble up as much TARP money as possible.”
On the issue of the much-touted health reform in the United States Senate “ Lieberman had consistently supported my domestic agenda.But his apparent power to dictate the terms of health-care reform reinforced the view among some Democrats that i treated enemies better than allies and was turning my back on the progressives who’d put me in office
I found the whole brouhaha exasperating ‘What is it about sixty votes these folks don’t understand?’ I groused to my staff ‘ Should i tell the thirty million people who can’t get covered that they’re going to have to wait another ten years because can’t get them a public option’.
Which of these visions they ultimately embraced would help determine the geopolitics of the next century ; and I left the town hall acutely aware that winning over this new generation depended on my ability to show that America’s democratic rights-based pluralistic system could still deliver on the promise of a better life.
On the Arab World his views "Contrary to the beliefs of many in the Arab world (and more than a few American reporters), the United States is not a grand puppet master whimsically pulling the strings of the countries with which it does business. Even governments that rely on our military and economic assistance think first and foremost of their own survival..."
His rather detailed coverage of the sequence of events to eliminate Osama bin Laden and the operation at Abbottabad that he was personally visually following tell their own story ‘ For twenty excruciating minutes ,even McRaven had a limited view of what was taking place-or perhaps he was staying silent on the details of the room –to-room search his team was conducting.
Then, with a suddenness I didn't expect we heard McRaven’s and Leon’s voices, almost simultaneously, utter the words we’d been waiting to hear- the culmination of months of planning and years of intelligence gathering.” Geronimo I D’d...Geronimo EKIA (enemy killed in action).
His blow hot blow cold fascination and understanding of India , very clearly emerges through his observations "In many respects, modern –day India counted as a success story, having survived repeated changeovers in government, bitter feuds within political parties, various armed separatist movements, and all manner of corruption scandals.”
Subsequently the author goes on ‘ For the truth was that despite the resilience of its democracy and its impressive recent economic performance, India still bore little resemblance to the egalitarian, peaceful and sustainable society Gandhi had envisioned.’
His personal views on the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have already captured enough media space , for further elaboration That he saw in India a great potential to ally with was never in doubt but his views on the subcontinent left many open ended chapters.
The reaction of the then Pakistan President on the Abbottabad raid ‘ I expected my most difficult call to be with Pakistan’s beleaguered President, Asif Ali Zardari , who would surely face a backlash at home over our violation of Pakistan sovereignty.When i reached him ,however ,he expressed congratulations and support. ”Whatever the fallout" he said “its vey good news” He showed genuine emotion, recalling how his wife,Benazir Bhutto ,had been killed by extremists with reported ties to al-Qaeda.
The book though voluminous , is a great read to comprehend and understand how the most powerful person on earth , the President of the United States of America looked at the world , its domestic challenges , future trajectory, geopolitical disruptions and concerns.
A great read by all Political Leaders, Political Pundits, Journalists, Students of Politics and International Relations and those involved in the process of Governance and the future of Nations and their International ramifications
The 2nd volume would be keenly awaited.
(The author of this book review is a Lucknow-based businessman, Chairman, MSME Confederation of Micro, Small, Medium Enterprise UP and Co-Chairman PHD Chambers of Commerce and the Founder Chair of Confederation of Indian Industry-Young Indians.)
This Book Is Available @ Universal Booksellers