PositiveThe Boston GlobeA chronicle of the ascent, election, and administration of the first Black man to helm the federal executive branch, A Promised Land is necessarily a story of aspiration and transformation. And so, in the midst of crisis, it tries to serve as a vessel of memory, an effort to remind us who we were and yet could be ... In his preface, President Obama writes that he’s unwilling \'to abandon the possibility of America,\' and the book that follows reads as equal parts political memoir, civics lesson, and meditation on organizing, as if trying to reconstruct — through sheer force of will — the foundational concepts that built his presidency: hope and change ... The pages are surprisingly suffused with emotion: the appreciation and friendship he shares with his team; the depth of love and affection in his marriage with Michelle Obama, and the tenderness and pride he expresses for his daughters are all so deftly portrayed that I felt compelled to seek out my own loved ones to affirm our connections. It is not a work to stun or shock; the same man who led the country with intellect and grace reappears in this memoir exactly as one would expect, and the most major misstep is an attempt to set stakes when we already know how the story ends ... If we remain the America remembered by President Obama, it is possible to seek bonds across the aisle, to argue policy with honesty and gravitas, to see the best in each other ... Even after inauguration, as crises beset him and Republicans obstruct and deny him solutions, President Obama writes with stubborn optimism ... These chapters read as an argument to address qualms and queries made in good faith, to reassure us that he had only our best interests at heart and to reaffirm the bonds of shared governance that constrained and contained the powers of the office he held. And this elegant (if verbose) account, in a normal context, would be enough. But it feels empty after four years in which those ideals have broken down. In the world of Barack Obama, rules matter, decorum matters, civility matters; in the world we inhabit now, all are shattered ... Within the story of the first Black man elected to serve as president of the United States, race is present and undeniable; yet in the book it is diminished or left unexplored ... Without major revelations, without hindsight, A Promised Land is defined more by what is absent than what it contains.