Monthly book roundup – 2020 December

Books finished in December:
(Warning: reviews are unpolished and quickly written.)

A Promised Land (2020) by Barack Obama. Vivid and interesting account of Obama’s presidency from the viewpoint of and read by the president himself.

A key topic is the trade-offs between what he believes is best and what is politically feasible, between the short and the long term. As a Senator, he was wary of losing what drove him to enter politics in the first place: “I questioned what might happen to me the longer I stayed in Washington, the more embedded and comfortable I became. I saw now how it could happen–how the incrementalism an decorum, the endless positioning for the next election, and the groupthink of cable news panels all conspired to chip away at your best instincts and wear down your independence, until whatever you once believed was utterly lost (p. 64).”

Interesting comment from his campaign chief David Axelrod that “you have to be a little pathological to do what it takes to win the [the primary and the presidency]” – probably not a good type of selection.

Funny on foreign leaders–the stoic Merkel and energetic, over-promising Sarkozy. The long historical lines maybe not entirely accurate in all details, but presumable it is his understanding.

Always generous towards Michelle and the sacrifices she had to make.

The Republican party, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell in particular, do not come off well – always obstructionist and setting short-term political gain from posturing above the long term good of the country. Time will show if they thereby dug their own grave.


Ratings and previous books are in the library.

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