A Promised Land: Obama’s Memoirs Was America’s Best-Selling Book of 2020

In the evening, when he walked from the White House to the family residence, Barack Obama used to stop. He breathed in the scent of earth and plants that came from the gardens. He was looking up at the illuminated White House building, flag flying, or glimpsed the Washington Monument in the distance. “At times like this, I looked back in amazement at the strange path and the idea that had led me there,” he writes in his memoirs.

Posted on November 17, A promised land it is the first volume of his autobiography as president. It was one of the most anticipated books of 2020, and it lived up to expectations: In the year of the pandemic, Barack Obama’s memoirs were the best-selling book in the United States, with 2.5 million copies. Together with Canada, sales reached 3.3 million units, according to figures from the specialized magazine Publisher Weekly.

Critically praised and featured among the best books of the year by The New York Times, A promised land recounts his formative years in Hawaii, Chicago and Harvard; his senatorial career, the enlightened speech he gave at the Democratic Convention in 2004 and his presidential election. The memoirs cover up to 2011, with the discovery and death of Osama bin Laden.

After signing a $ 65 million contract with the Penguin Random House group in 2017, the presidential memoirs are his first installment of the deal. This also involved the autobiography of his wife Michelle Obama, My story, which sold 3.4 million copies in the US alone in its first year. Published in 2018, the testimony of the former first lady conquered even more readers in 2020: it registered sales of almost 600 thousand copies, ranking 19 of the most popular titles.

In this way, it is the first time that a former president and his wife, or even a married couple, appear at the same time in the list of the 20 bestsellers of the year.

My Story, by Michelle Obama, was also among the best-selling titles of the year in the US.

According to its American publisher, A promised land it will probably become the best-selling presidential memoir of the modern era. In one month in the North American market, it reached sales of My Life by Bill Clinton and Decision Points de George W. Bush.

Barack Obama is a great writer. It is not simply that this book avoids being tedious, as might be expected, even forgiven, of a great memory, but that it is almost always pleasant to read, sentence by sentence, the magnificent prose about the places, the granular and vivid detail ”, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie commented in her review in The New York Times.

A cultured and sensitive reader, the former president is the author of two previous memoirs, Dreams of my father, published in 1995, before he was a known leader, and The boldness of hope of 2016.

The presidential autobiography topped the one-year bestseller list where books on Donald Trump also stood out: three titles about the Republican ruler reached the best-seller rankings: Always too much and never enough, from the tycoon’s niece, Mary L. Trump, was the fourth best-selling title, with 1,300,000 copies; The room where it happened, from John Bolton, the former National Security Advisor, ranked 15th, with 675,000 units sold, and Rage, by Bob Woodward, came in 23rd with sales of 539,000 copies.

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