A writer well known for taking his sweet time on projects has finally completed a manuscript. This is not an unusual development in the publishing world, but when that writer is Barack Obama, it counts as news.
Obama announced on Thursday morning that his long-awaited third book, titled In a Promised Land, will at last be out on November 17 — two weeks after a presidential election that will either serve as a major boon to his legacy or a further repudiation of it.
The book, Obama’s third after Dreams From My Father in 1995 and The Audacity of Hope in 2006, is 768 pages long, and is part one of two planned volumes. The New York Times reports that In a Promised Land will cover Obama’s “early political life,” and most of the first half of his presidency, wrapping up with the assassination of Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Obama, who is not known for his speed when it comes to written assignments, signed a blockbuster book deal, along with Michelle Obama, in February 2017, just after President Trump was inaugurated. His wife beat him to the printing presses by two years; her book Becoming came out in November 2018, and quickly became the best-selling title of that year, selling more than 10 million copies in a few months. (Barack has said that Michelle benefited from the help of a ghostwriter, while he wrote his new book entirely.)
The release date appears to be something of a gamble. If President Trump wins reelection, the appetite for reading a thoughtful reflection on his forerunner’s time in office — which already feels like it happened on a different planet — may be diminished. Still, there’s no doubt that reader interest will be sky-high either way. Crown, Obama’s publisher, is expecting a massive best seller, ordering up an initial printing of 3 million copies.