WASHINGTON: When Barack Obama declared his intent to run for the Presidency, it was said that the White House’s gain would be literature’s loss. By then he was already author of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, his 1996 memoir that was described by Time magazine as “may be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician.”
NYT’s Michiko Kakutani, called it “the most evocative, lyrical and candid autobiography written by a future president.” The audiobook edition earned Obama a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album in 2006, by which time he had cranked out his second book The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, which former presidential candidate Gary Hart described as Obama’s “thesis submission” for the U.S. presidency. Post-presidency, Obama wrote A Promised Land, the first of a two-volume memoir, which the Times Literary Supplement said was “elegantly written,” calling Obama “a gifted writer…(who) maintains the reader’s interest for over 700 pages.” The New York Times Literary Review said the memoir “is nearly always pleasurable to read, sentence by sentence, the prose gorgeous in places, the detail granular and vivid.”
While Obama’s literary chops is considered extraordinary, other Presidential writing, including memoirs, are also well-regarded. George Bush, Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, all wrote serious books that merited serious scrutiny, whether one agreed with their assessment or not. They may or may not have used ghost-writers (unlikely), or benefited from good editors, but their work was seen as a genuine effort at chronicling their life and times.
Fast forward to 2022. America’s 45th President Donald Trump, after disclosing last summer that he was “writing like crazy,” has produced a 319-page “coffee table” book titled Our Journey Together. To say the book is being panned would be an understatement. It is being shredded.
From the Washington Post: “Images are the perfect lexicon for Trump to articulate a fantastical revision of his four chaotic years in office. Freed from the complexities of language or the context of history, the former president spins a dreamscape of adulation and triumph … this is a memoir spun from the thin gruel of musty propaganda and cherished grudges.” And the headline in Rolling Stone “New Book Will Require Little Reading.”
Trump of course is bragging all the way to the bank boasting that it has sold more than 300,000 copies and raked in millions. The picture book memoir is priced at $74.99 plus shipping; $229.99 for a signed copy.


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