Years ago in Ho Chi Minh I discovered Barack Obama, says Ralph McAllister.
Barack was in a second hand bookshop.
No,not him silly, but his DREAMS FROM MY FATHER and THE AUDACITY OF HOPE,books which convinced me then of his talents as a writer and would be politician.
Over twenty years have flown by but I still remember being moved to tears by the stories of his family,his aspirations and uncertainties of making a mark in the ruthless world of American politics.
The Promised Land
So it was, with great anticipation, that I staggered from Paper Plus the other day with A PROMISED LAND, all 700 pages of it, the first part of Obama’s autobiography.
Was I disappointed?
Not a bit.
In fact on the basis of the honesty ,humility,love and morality which permeate the writing,I would rank A PROMISED LAND as one of the greatest journeys ever written.
It makes me feel proud and humbled that I have lived at the same time as this giant of a man.
The comparisons we should make
Clinton,Bush,Nixon ,Carter and Eisenhower all had some success with their accounts of their lives and careers, but, historically, in the final analysis, Obama will be compared with a different list.
Think, Plato, J.S.Mill ,Thoreau, Chomsky and perhaps a few others.
I kid you not.
A PROMISED LAND shares all the machinations of getting elected,the loss of privacy which goes with success,the dilemmas of choice,particularly when there is no correct path.
Surviving with family love
It also shares the family love which has survived decades of testing ,when the demands of office made it well nigh impossible to retain a semblance of normalcy.
And there is humour, private and public, self deprecatory and often delivered with superb timing.
But above all, we are there with a mere mortal, grappling ,often agonisingly,
with his conscience ,with what is best to do for his country ,and not his own ego.
And then there is Trump…
Mercifully Trump is not mentioned until late in this saga.
Together we journey to the White House.
Together we begin to grasp the magnitude of the job.
Together we see the passion of a democratic Democrat as his desire for universal health care produced scatological insults which included labelling him a Bolshevik !
This, about the only president so far as we know ,who made home brew while in residence.
The PROMISED LAND ends with the assassination of Osama bin Laden.
Is this tome too long?
Others may make the obvious criticism ,especially in these days of sound bites etc.,that it is too long,that it badly needs an editor.
Just for once I suggest respectfully, that view is rubbish.
Over the two days I read this mighty tome I kept wanting more .
This, I am promised, will be delivered some time next year, when the second and final(?)part of this modern Odyssey is published.
I cannot wait.