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Obama Memoir Caps Banner Year for Political Books

Obama Memoir Caps Banner Year for Political Books

Shortly after Barack Obama left the White House, he met with veteran publishing executive Rachel Klayman at his office in Washington to discuss his id

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Shortly after Barack Obama left the White House, he met with veteran publishing executive Rachel Klayman at his office in Washington to discuss his ideas for a presidential memoir.

Ms. Klayman, who edited Mr. Obama’s last book, “The Audacity of Hope,” said the former president had a plan. “He’d written out on yellow legal pads, in longhand, a quite lucid and detailed outline of most of what he wanted to do,” said Ms. Klayman, an executive editor at Penguin Random House’s Crown imprint. “He had a design from the beginning.”

Nevertheless, it took Mr. Obama 2½ years longer than he expected to finish his highly anticipated memoir, and the project expanded in scope so much that he had to split it in two. The first volume, “A Promised Land,” will be published Tuesday.

Turning big events like his administration’s handling of the financial crisis or nuclear-arms negotiations into a compelling narrative, while doing justice to all the nuances, proved challenging. Mr. Obama also had to decide how much, if at all, to deal with the legacy of the Trump years in a book that was meant to reflect on his time in office. In the end, he kept the lens on pre-Trump America.

As a bestselling author before he became president, Mr. Obama faces high expectations. It is an open question in the book industry whether Mr. Obama will outsell his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama, whose memoir “Becoming” has sold over 14 million copies world-wide in all formats.

This post first appeared on wsj.com

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