There no real good way to review this book, so I am not going to. And if you're not a fan, nothing I say will change your mind. If you are a fan, you already know everything I could possibly say.
Was President Obama perfect? No.
Do I believe he had the best interest of our nation at heart in his eight years in office and served admirably? Undoubtedly, yes.
So, I am just going to share some highlights I found especially poignant. It was such a relief reading this book, to "hear" the voice of an adult who understood the weight of the world on his shoulders as he steered our country through tumultuous times and brought us out of terrible economic conditions. I read it in the first week of December 2020, as four years of chaos, incompetence, and greed were finally sort of winding down. It was very easy to slip into Barack-Obama-is-talking-to-me mode, because that's what it felt like, a conversation between friends.
Highly highly recommended.
"Perhaps most troubling of all, our democracy seems to be teetering on the brink of crisis - a crisis rooted in a fundamental contest between two opposing visions of what America is and what it should be; a crisis that has left the body politic divided, angry, and mistrustful, and has allowed for an ongoing breach of institutional norms, procedural safeguards, and an adherence to basic facts that both Republicans and Democrats once took for granted" (1%).
"Do we care to match the reality of America to its ideals? If so, do we really believe that our notions of self-government and individual freedom, equality of opportunity and equality before the law, apply to everybody? Or are we instead committed, in practice if not in statute, to reserving those things for the privileged few?" (1%).
"...we will learn to live together, cooperate with one another, and recognize the dignity of others, or we will perish. As so the world watches America - the only great power in history to be made up of people from every corner of the planet, comprising every race and faith and cultural practice - to see if our experiment in democracy can work. To see if we can do what no other nation has ever done. To see if we can live up to the meaning of our creed" (1%).
"More than anyone, this book is for those young people - an invitation to once again remake the world, and to bring about, through hard work, determination, and a big dose of imagination, an American that finally aligns with all that is best in us" (1%).
Ted Kennedy (8%): "The power to inspire is rare. Moments like this are 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 might turn out to be the only chance you have, or you decide you are willing to live with the knowledge that the chance has passed you by."
Discussing his candidacy (9%): "But who knows," I said, looking around the table. "There's no guarantee we can pull it off. here's one thing I know for sure, though. I know that the day I raise my right hand and take the oath to be president of the United States, the world will start looking at America differently. I know that kids around this country - Black kids, Hispanic kids, kids who don't fit in - they'll see themselves differently, too, their horizons lifted, their possibilities expanded. And that alone...that would be worth it."
A lesson from John McCain (you can disagree with much of his politics as I do, but you also have to admire how he responded multiple times to the blatant racism, bigotry, and disrespect that began so heavily permeating politics when Obama began his campaign) (21%): "I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States," he said, causing his audience to boo lustily. Answering another question, he said, "We want to fight, and I will fight. But we will be respectful. I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments. I will respect him. I want everyone to be respectful and let's make sure we are because that's the way politics should be conducted in America."
On the bin Laden mission (74%): 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 ID'd...Geronimo EKIA." Enemy killed in action. Osama bin Laden - code-named "Geronimo" for the purposes of the mission - - the man responsible for the worst terrorist attack in American history, the man who had directed the murder of thousands of people and set in motion a tumultuous period of world history, had been brought to justice by a team of American Navy SEALs. Inside the conference room, there were audible gasps. My eyes remained glued to the video feed. "We got him," I said softly.
I will never forget that announcement as long as I live. We got him. Thank you, President Obama.