Barack Obama’s presidential memoir can be split into two narrative styles. The first chronicles his almost cinematic life story up to his January 2009 inauguration. The rest is devoted to the first two-and-a-half years of his presidency. Though they are in the same memoir they read at times like different books.

Obama’s limpid prose, which shot him to fame in the mid-1990s with his precocious autobiography, Dreams From My Father, is alive and well in the way he describes his pre-presidential days, including his historic 2008 campaign. It is easy to see why Penguin Random House gave him and Michelle Obama a combined $65m — an advance to which none of his predecessors have come close...

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