Book Review – A Promised Land by Barack Obama
It’s been a while since I posted a book review here. It’s not that I did not start reading one, but it took time to finish the one I picked. I had chosen a humongous book named “A promised land” by Barack Obama. Its 800 pages of written content as a hardcover or 29 hours as an audible audiobook requires real dedication from you. For me, it took my reading schedule the entire March to finish!
Naturally, the first thought came to my mind when I heard the title the God’s promise on the land to Abraham and his decedents. Although Obama covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a chapter, the book is not about that promised land in the middle east.
Anyways, my verdict is – this is a must-read and an excellent addition to your personal library. Despite its length, it does not warrant laborious reading; it literally reads on its own – very beautifully written and well narrated. You will like it depending on how much you are interested in world politics and economics. Additionally, if you are a democrat, you might get goosebumps going through few specific chapters. It’s an understatement if I say Obama is a fantastic orator. He will never let get you bored while you are at it.
I personally loved it and would reread it sometime in future.
The book covers Obama’s political career leading up to the mid-term election. I believe the subsequent topics will be covered in his next book. That is the reason you would not hear him talk about Modi, but you would about Manmohan, Sonia and Rahul.
Also, the book covers his political and economic part of his precedency rather than his personal life. Michelle, Melia, and Sasha appear very infrequently, just about a few paragraphs, not more than he was absolutely obligated to write. Or perhaps he wanted us to buy Michelle’s book to learn the other side of the story. I am not falling for that – that’s another 19 hours right there. Even though the first couple of chapters cover his childhood leading up to his political career, it seems it was inserted for the benefit of one Donald Trump, who had challenged Obama’s birth origin and Americanness.
Overall, the content takes a frank tone, superbly detailed (29 hours, duh!!), leading you to wonder how he could remember all these details with such vivid description.
Anyways, these are the chapter resonated well with me.
- The visits to the middle east and their ever-complicated politics. Obama calls a spade a spade without having an obligation to ignore the elephant in the room.
- Fascinating topic on Nuclear disarmament and Iran.
- The climate bill and carbon cuts and how he blackmailed BRIC leaders into Paris agreement (A little American hypocrisy here)
- The Greek Euro crisis
- BP deep-sea oil leak crisis
- The Birth-er debate and how he handled the Donald trump campaign against him.
- The middle eastern conflict – Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt etc.
There are several topics were failed to convince me.
- How picking up a fight across the world may be wrong, including bombing them.
- What a liberal democratic support to the repressive regime, including the autocracies, is still OK.
- How Hilary is correct, and Palin is an idiot.
- Subprime crises and his defiance on bailing out the Banks and why no banks have been brought to justice.
The books end with a very well narrated story on the manhunt of Osama bin Laden. Probably, Obama considered this as the singularly most significant important achievement of his career as president, hence, all the emphasis on the almost-fiction-like chapter.
I will be waiting for the next book and work love to hear from the horse’s mouth on:
- Obama care – his view on socializing the medicine.
- Trump – election and transition
- Modi wave in India
- China & the tariff war
- Diminishing free speech in American University campuses
- Charlie Hebdo – maybe?
- Raise of Antifa and PC culture.
Let’s see. Meanwhile, please go buy this book, and it is worth every penny.
The 5 AM Club & Alibaba – reviews
This is a rapid review of a book named the 5 AM Club that I recently abandoned after tolerating for about three-fourths of its length. Now, I have no intention of finishing it.
I was never a fan of Robin Sharma to start with. I disliked his most famous one, “The monk who sold his Ferrari”. For the same reason, I was skeptical about this one as well. I blame my purchase on some of my overenthusiastic friends for having recommended it to me. Definitely not for me.
Those who are planning to buy it, please be informed:
- It’s written as fiction, a rather boring one. The author is a lousy fiction writer.
- The fiction is a multilogue between a few people from various walks of life. What irritated me the most is that these people regularly and continuously spitting out motivational quotes as if it’s some sort of rap battle. I did not buy this book for infinite list quotes.
- I yawned through a few chapters, then FOMO kicked in. Did the book cover the 5 AM topic? Is it yet to be discussed? or are they gonna discuss world affairs first? Now that I have suspended the book, this will remain a mystery to me.
- A few like-minded people suggested that I should finish the book with few tricks. One advised that I skip a few specific chapters and jump into particular ones directly. Another told me that I should read only the italicized paragraphs and only visit the pages with images and their description. But I can’t do any of those through audible. 😦
I do not recommend it. Please take the good reviews on the internet with a pinch of salt. In my opinion, it’s a dull, badly fictionalized book. That’s it.
Another book I just finished is Alibaba – the house that Jack Ma built. It’s a biography. The book narrates chronicles and adventures on how he reached the place where he is. What makes it more interesting is that the book runs Jack’s rise to wealth in parallel with the evolution of Chinese free-market economics and regression in social communism. A good read. Go for it if this is the kind of book interests you.
One of the exciting wisdoms he provides is about the approach of catching a rabbit. Suppose, if there are nine rabbits on the ground, and you wish to capture one -Just focus on one. These rabbits obviously will run, skip, change course and even might hide in a hole. You should try things differently and change the strategy and tactic but never change the rabbit you earmarked. Good stuff. On a lighter note, I would never want to catch a rabbit. They belong in meadows and leave them there. Don’t bring rabies home.
The lobster debate, Social Hierarchy and Jordan B Peterson
While reading the latest book I picked up, I came across this fascinating and fantastic trivia about lobsters’ behaviors. I assure you that you too will be surprised to learn about it. It is a very cool analogy and the correlation between the Human kingdom and Animal ones. This can be utilized to reason out a few characteristics such as male dominance, the effect of antidepressants and the social hierarchy, including even patriarchy. It goes like this:
- Like any animal kingdom species, lobsters get into disputes and fights to register male dominance. As usual, the battle is to determine who is the best suitable mate to carry the gene forward. As decided by binary results, the lobster that won the brawl will flex and get bigger physically, advertising his victory. The looser will shrink physically.
- Suppose you inject antidepressant, like serotonin, to the lost lobster. It stretches and gets bigger and ready to fight again. By the way, the same hormone work works on the human as well,
- An interesting point to note is that these neurochemical behaviors exist in the animal kingdom for 2.5 million years. i.e., Even before trees became into existence.
- A defeated human, such as with PTSD, will have the hippocampus shrink and the amygdala grow. A hippocampus can grow back with the help of anti-depressants. However, amygdala never grows back. Similarly, a defeated lobster will have its brain dissolved, and a new one grows back but not of the same one before.
- Basically, the argument is that the animal kingdom, including humans, organizes itself in the inevitably aligned social hierarchy, which is evolutionary and driven by neurologist chemical reactions. Not due to a political system such as capitalism. In other words, the human hierarchical organization in the political system has the evolutionary design to blame, not the other way around.
Apparently, this conclusion is based on a study on lobster, collective behaviors, social hierarchy etc. And the books where I picked up is “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos ” by Jordan B. Peterson. I will not be able to validate the theory as I am not qualified enough to do this. But he is a well-published author, Professor, clinical psychologist and public intellectual. I am gonna have to go with him this time.
Most rules of these books are controversial now, often unnecessarily. Jordan and his book are receiving end of American university students’ anger and social figures leaning left. Most noise comes from those who have not read it, instead of having their knowledge based on 140 characters of Twitter. Understandably the book is not an easy read. The technical terms, psychological reasoning etc., make it a laborious read. Unless you made up your mind to complete it, it is not gonna finish itself.
I recommend this to you if you are still interested, take it as a fresh perspective on the latest sets of social debates.
Yuval Noah Harari – Trilogy
Okay, it’s done. I’ve read all three books of Yuval Noah Harari, a self imposed challenge BTW I highly recommend that you read them, these books are gems of the books..
Unfortunately, my views and ratings seem to be in line with many critics on the Internet, have nothing more to add, it will be redundant. Also, I am quite late in the game, and hence mine is probably the millionth post on this topic.
Anyways, I have listed them in the order of my likings :
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
- Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
- 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
- Highly recommended, you are missing out if you have not read them yet.
- You do not need to be an avid reader to pick those yet has profound Thought-provoking concepts. If you want your kid or loved ones to pick up the reading habit, then these are the right ones.
- Slightly leftist, but generally liberal.
- Straightforward read, and definitely not not laborious reading such as works of Christopher Hitchens
If you want to turn a few pages before you decide to buy them, here you go :