I listened to this 29+ hour audio book. It was a far more enjoyable read than I expected. This book was chosen as one of NYT Best Books of 2020 (click here for NYT review). Listening to the book also enabled me to get a lot of walking in since I wanted to keep walking so I could continue to listen.
President Obama is a good writer. The book was interesting because it not only reviewed his first term, it also provided a history lesson related to all the events that occurred during his presidency. As he described the events from his presidency, he interlaced stories about his family. For each event he also provided a continual dose of the introspection he went through during his trying presidency. Those passages helped me understand the challenges he faced.
Overall, I kept thinking – how did he endure? I was exhausted just listening to all the things he did. After reading, upon reflection it seemed even more exhausting. I realized he did all these things while under time constraints, in real-time and with only limited information. When reading we now have the benefit hindsight, no time constraints and know more.
The book started with a discussion of the work that was done on the financial crisis he inherited. While working on that solution, he would also have to do other things such as a commencement address to graduates in the US or in UAB, or to a meeting with national leaders, to meetings about ongoing issues such as Birthergate pushed by Trump, or the BP oil leak in the gulf, or to his daughters basketball team practice. I say “or” but really it was “and” because all these events were ongoing. It was clear he did many things.
I encourage all to listen or read and I don’t think it matters which side of the aisle you are on politically. I force myself to listen to the other side at times, and generally gain increased understanding and or perspective. Once again, it is not that I am deciding which way is best, but learning about what can be a better way. As Stephen Covey helped me understand in his book, The 3rd Alternative, it is not about my way or your way, but about working together to find a better way. If you are interested, I discuss how to use the 3rd alternative in these posts: Honoring Justice Scalia – Dare to Disagree, Progress Trumps Problems and Perfection, and We Need to Use the 3rd Alternative.
It appeared to me President Obama was continually searching for selfish, selfish, and synergistic solutions. In my view he was often able to generate comprehensive benefits by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, interactions so everyone and everything benefits. I found this book entertaining, educational, and helpful. If you read, please share your thoughts about what you learned about how to generate comprehensive benefits so everyone and everything benefits. I look forward to hearing from you.
Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!