A personal word from the interviewer:
Let's not fool ourselves. An American president, sitting or retired, doesn't invest forty minutes of his time for German Television because of a long-neglected love-affair with the leading network there.
Barack Obama has a book to sell on the world's second-largest book market. In fact, "A Promised Land" doesn't need much promotion. In only the last six weeks of 2020, it became the best selling book of the entire year in Germany.
For me, it is the most captivating political memoir since Nelson Mandela's "Long Walk to Freedom".
Winston Churchill famously declared: "History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it." Obama follows that path, but he mostly resists self-glorifying. His is a book of sometimes surprising introspection and self-doubts. He doesn't avoid soul-wrenching decisions in matters of life and death, nor embarrassing details like a breakdown of the fabled "White House Signal" operation, which spends untold millions to keep POTUS connected 24/7 to the farthest reach of US-interests.
Stuck in Brasilia, he has to give a momentous order to the Pentagon with a commoner's cell phone, "possibly used to order pizza a few minutes earlier".
The Renegade (as the Secret Service code-named him), surprised me with remarkable openness, when he addressed questions like:
- Didn’t your ignorance of people’s feelings prepare the ground for Donald Trump?
- How could you overlook the anger brewing in large parts of the country?
- How were you, a junior senator, qualified for being president?
- The Nobel Peace Prize: Did you ever find an answer to your own question: what for?
- After all that happened, how can you still believe that democracy works?
It turned into a very interesting conversation. If you want to read the full transcript of the interview with Barack Obama - it's there. But you should really see and hear it. It's remarkable how creative camera people on both sides of the Atlantic pimped a standard videoconference.