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A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce

3.42  ·  Rating Details ·  179 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
A New York Times Bestseller

“I have been through some of the worst of contentious divorce litigation,” Alec Baldwin declares in A Promise to Ourselves. Using a very personal approach, he offers practical guidance to help others avoid the anguish he has endured.

Alec Baldwin is one of the most successful actors in the world today. His relationship with Kim Basinger, the Acade
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published September 9th 2008)
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Lady Jane
Jan 29, 2010 Lady Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce, Alec Baldwin puts a celebrity face on dirty secrets which few know, and even fewer understand, that comprise America's current family law system. Contorted to favor custodial parents--usually women--and structured to perpetuate expensive, legal conflict, the only winners in ongoing custodial wars are the paid professionals associated with the case. The biggest losers are children over which wars are being fought, followed by no ...more
Mar 25, 2009 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent insight on the process of custody battles from someone who's been through the fight. After reading this book and discussing its contents with friends who have been through custody battles, it appears the issues discussed in the book are prominent in most custody battles. Changes must be made to the family law system, and this book sheds some light on where changes must be made.
May 31, 2012 S.C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first heard that Alec Baldwin was writing a book about his divorce and the ruthless custody battle between him and his ex-wife Kim Basinger, I had to wonder in how many ways he would seek to slander her. I, like most of the ignorant public, considered Baldwin a volatile man, having seen his assault of a paparazzi on the news after the birth of his daughter Ireland and having heard the notorious and venomous voice mail he left for his daughter in 2006 (courtesy of the slimy celebrity news ...more
Feb 13, 2009 Shari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book! I was impressed and intrigued by what Alec had to say about his experience with the family divorce courts! He talks about parent alienation. A very common thing that occurs when a couple divorces. It affects everyone in the family - aunts, uncles, grandparents and mostly the father (in most cases).
This is not a book of slander and gossip between he and his ex wife. This is a book about his experience (still ongoing) with the LA Family court system. He wanted to be more than a "Disne
Jan 05, 2009 Toni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone who has had to deal with a bitter ex wife and custody issues will relate to Mr. Baldwin's struggles. Highly recommended! I think everyone should read this book to understand what our legal system allows vicious ex wives to do to their former spouses
Brandon Cardona
Oct 18, 2012 Brandon Cardona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been seeing this book for a bit in my local library, and each time I passed it, I laughed every time. I mean, based on what has been said in the press, and the voice-mail between Alec and his daughter, which was made public, how much can this guy really tell you about being a good parent? However, after reading this book, I have more respect for the guy than I had prior. I have no doubt he has a massive anger issue. Calling his daughter a "thoughtless little pig" among other things is obv ...more
Feb 10, 2009 Marsha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I worked in the legal profession, I found Alec Baldwin's book particularly interesting. He says that lawyers drag things out particularly if they know the parties involved have money to pay attorney fees. Remember, in litigation, no one wins but the attorneys. Unfortunately, for Baldwin he did not have shared custody of his daughter. He doesn't come out and spell it out, but it sounds like this was due to his bad temper. He said that he was ordered to take anger management classes. He felt ...more
Jun 11, 2011 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting format, and he makes some reasonable points, but ultimately unsatisfying. Purports to be about the family law system and how it's stacked against fathers and fosters billable hours for lawyers more than the best interests of the child. But aside from one chapter in which he interviews a law professor about recent changes in the legal system, and the almost randomly inserted snippets from a few other guys' cases, it's 90% based on his contentious divorce from Kim Basinger (aka "my ex- ...more
Jul 16, 2009 Karla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a disappointment. I think Alec Baldwin is the funniest guy on TV right now in 30 Rock. NONE of his wit or humor translates. I know it's a serious book about a serious subject, but I was hoping for at least a morsel of humor. This might be a good guide for a father going through divorce. Other than that: not so good. I'm sorry he went through such hard time fighting for custody and yes, the system sucks blah blah blah. But it's pretty hard to sympathize with a person of means regarding his d ...more
Sharon Hass
What Alec went through prior to the divorce. This was a great book for all to read. you never know just what anyone goes through-men or women when it comes to divorce especially if the divorce is not a 'clean' one. That is where the two just go their own ways and there are no children involved. With Alec it was him fighting hard and trying not to give up for his daughter's sake. She needs her father as she grows older and I was so happy to know he did not give up the fight. This one is a must re ...more
Laura Foti
Nov 11, 2008 Laura Foti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people going through a divorce
Must-reading for anyone contemplating or already in the throes of a divorce. Baldwin provides a surprising amount of context for his tale of time in the legal system, especially for a guy who says, "I blame my ex-wife least of all for what has transpired."

But the meat here is the first-rate advice for divorcing parents, especially those with young children. See my full review here:
Feb 13, 2017 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This no-holds-barred takedown of the US Family Law and Dependency Courts mega-bureaucracy is long overdue. The plight of non-custodial fathers and the system that ruthlessly victimises and exploits them are a national disgrace. Why does it exist? And do they get away with it?

The parade of parasites who line their pockets through protracted legal battles, custody hearings, family evaluations, court orders and arbitration rulings runs deep and long. Once the money is settled (which can take a lon
Feb 17, 2013 Mediaman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This fascinating insight into the divorce of Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger is one of the most shocking celebrity tell-alls ever written. Baldwin goes after his ex-wife, framing her as a narcissistic nutcase surrounded by expensive attorneys. But the real focus of the book is on how messed-up the legal system is. High-paid lawyers have two goals: to drain the bank accounts of those involved in divorce and to favor the women in custody battles. Overworked judges always favor the wife and the entir ...more
Apr 06, 2009 Laren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This isn't a tell-all book dishing dirt on his ex-wife, Kim Basinger. The point to this book was to point out the inherent conficts of interest and unfairness in the legal system involving family and divorce law, presumably in the hopes of raising awareness for the reader to help change some laws. There are some personal anecdotes, not only of his own experience (to the extent he was allowed to do so under his own legal constraints), but also those of several other men who told the author their ...more
Mar 20, 2016 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alec Baldwin says that trying to fix Parental Alienation Syndrome while in the midst of court proceedings is like trying to fix a car while driving it. "It's an overused term," one attorney told me. "I won't use that term in the courtroom," said yet another. This **** is real. This **** is evil. Yet, many courts do not recognize it. Why should they? Their would be less cases funding the broken machine that the "family court" system is here in the United States. Alienating a parent who had a lovi ...more
Jun 03, 2012 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"A Promise to Ourselves" is a thought-provoking, candid look at the family court system as seen through the eyes of Mr. Baldwin. It was not promoted as a tell-all book, and in fact Mr. Baldwin went out of his way during the book's promotion to stress that. He went through some very tough times trying to gain even basic rights as a father, and the intent of this book is to share his experience (without bashing his ex-wife) and provide guidance to parents in similar situations.

He tells us about h
Jul 13, 2015 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent and eye-opening information about the power of Parental Alienation in a divorce causing undeserved stress and damage to the child's psyche.

Lots of information about how the family law "system" works in the state of california, some of which undoubtedly occurs in other legal disciplines and into other countries in the world. There is something of the Old Boys Network within the court systems in this story, and if you didn't already know this, you will.

The book is easy to understand, and
Sep 20, 2014 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If someone is looking for a gossipy celebrity tell-all they will be highly disappointed with Mr. Baldwin's book. However, if someone is trying to get a handle on a high-conflict co-parenting situation this is a MUST READ.
In this cautionary tale, Alec Balwin describes his expensive and unproductive misadventures through our country's family law system. His account is candid, believable, and unfortunate.
Mr. Baldwin efficiently summarizes Dr. Richard Gardner's discoveries in the field of Parental
Jan 07, 2011 Keshia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most interesting thing here is the claim Baldwin makes; that the legal system, particularly family court, is akin to the 'good ole boys club'. This is where the lines between your attorney who operates as your mouthpiece and advocate and his established relationships with the opposing counsel, judge, and other legal staff may be blurred. And, just as in corporate america, in legal america, there are politics and lawyers and judges wrangling for their next big break--another factor in how you ...more
Nov 13, 2014 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Both Ken and I read this book because of what we went through with his ex and kids. It was amazing to read that we experienced some of the same things Baldwin did, especially what is termed Parental Alienation Syndrome. We were pretty sure that was what was happening, but didn't realize that it was such a classic case. All eight symptoms written about in this book happened to us.

I recommend this book to anyone who has been through a similar situation. It doesn't matter what your station in life
Chris Hunt
Apr 22, 2011 Chris Hunt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't like the guy's politics, but this book isn't political. The quality of the book is also not in the writing. But it is in the message. Alec's message also doesn't bash his ex-wife, but in it he talks about a type of abuse he is affected by which is going on under the radar of our society. It involves the emotional abuse of a child being pitted against one parent by the other. He does not use the term Parental Alienation, but this is what he's referring to.

It is an important book inasmuch
Jul 07, 2013 Zoe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013books
There's nothing entertaining in this book about Alec's painful, drawn-out divorce from Kim Basinger, but it might be useful or interesting to other men going through similar situations. If you're hoping for some juicy celebrity gossip, you won't find it here, either--all the good stuff seems to be sealed under court order. His partnership with Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk is interesting, especially as not all of their views align.
This book is a must read for anyone who's been through a divorce with children involved or knows anyone who's been through a divorce with children involved. Although much of the book is based on Alec's own story, it is mostly a very frank, honest look at the divorce "industry" which in this county is a $28 BILLION a year money-maker.

Sadly, there are not many suggestions for change in the system. He does mention several groups that are trying to gain legislative change, but against the big lobbie
Alisha Everts
Feb 07, 2015 Alisha Everts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good book

Learned a lot about divorce. Feel bad for Mr Baldwin both you and your wife where in my favorite list of actors. This story was so uncalled for. Hopefully your ugly story will teach ppl not to take marriage to lightly. I was so disappointed that both of you had to go thru that kind of divorce wasted money and energy that money could have went to your daughter. Good Luck Mr. Baldwin you have continue to be one of my favorites.
Dec 14, 2012 Weiss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not really a fan, though Alec Baldwin seems like an interesting person. This book gave some insight into who he is, and covered the story of his divorce well. It's worth reading for the viewpoint on divorce and child custody. It is probably not a great read for fans. The book is true to the intro and cover paragraphs, which is what I set my expectations by, and I found it to be a satisfying read.
I learned quite a bit about family law and America's legal system concerning divorce in Alec Baldwin's book. I also commend him for writing about a period of his life that was clearly a difficult time. What I would have liked to learn that I didn't was how things eventually panned out for him. I do realize that elements of his custody battle might not have been fully resolved at the printing of this book.
Philip Hollenback
I recommend this book for anyone who is married, might get married, or might get divorced. This is a very well thought out book with lots of scholarly references. Baldwin does a good job of laying out how broken the California divorce industry is, and how badly you are going to be beaten by the system during a divorce.
Apr 25, 2009 Biosyd rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's sad that lawyers get rich, bleed families dry, hurt kids all for the all mighty dollar. Alec may not be the easiest man to live with, but he sure loves his daughter. Other men would have given up a lot sooner. His daughter will realize that one day. I yell at my kids too sometime, only difference is that no one puts it all over the news.
Aug 30, 2013 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book in terms of the family legal system and the problems with it. I applaud Alec Baldwin for writing so candidly about his personal experience. Having this problem in my own family, reading his book has helped to keep things in perspective. It's not the best literary experience but it is an honest heart-felt account of a very difficult situation many people go through.
Jan 26, 2009 Jamey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not well written, but quite readable (in other words, there's repetition, some misused words, and some cliches, but the point of this book is not literary anyhow). I like the book. I admire the clarity of thought and the emotional effort that went into it. Most of his descriptions seem to me spot-on correct, though some are not quite as horrible as the realities they describe.
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Alexander Rae "Alec" Baldwin III is an Emmy- and Academy Award-nominated, and Golden Globe Award-winning, American actor. He is the eldest and most famous of the Baldwin brothers, and has starred in many movies and TV shows. He is also noted for having hosted Saturday Night Live multiple times. He is currently playing television executive Jack Donaghy in the NBC situation-comedy 30 Rock.
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“[American family court] is a system that is corrupt on his best day. It is like being tied to the back of a pickup truck and dragged down a gravel late at night. No one can hear your cries and complaints and it is not over until they say it's over.” 11 likes
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