The Stories Americans Tell Their President
By Eli Saslow
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385534307, 304pp.)
Publication Date: October 11, 2011
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Every day, President Obama reads ten representative letters among the thousands he receives from citizens across the land. The letters come from people of all ages, walks of life, and political points of view. Some are heartbreaking, some angry, some hopeful. Indeed, Obama reads as many letters addressed “Dear Jackass” as “Dear Mr. President.” Eli Saslow, a young and rising star at the Washington Post, became fascinated by the power of these letters and set out to find the stories behind them.
Through the lens of ten letters to which Obama responded personally, this exceptionally relevant and poignant book explores those individual stories, taking an in-depth look at the misfortunes, needs, opinions, and, yes, anger over the current state of the country that inspired ten people to put pen to paper. Surprisingly, what also emerges from these affecting personal narratives is a story about the astounding endurance and optimism of the American people.
Ten Letters is an inspiring and important book about ordinary people and the issues they face every day—the very issues that are shaping America’s future. This is not an insider Washington book by any means, but a book for the times that tells the real American stories of today.
ELI SASLOW is a staff writer at the Washington Post, where he covered the 2008 presidential campaign and has chronicled the president’s life inside the White House. Previously a sportswriter for the Post, he has won multiple awards for news and feature writing. Two of his stories have also appeared in Best American Sports Writing.
The White House receives some 20,000 letters and emails a day, and occasionally citizens are surprised by a personal response to their missives. Host Audie Cornish speaks with Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow, who writes about this correspondence in his book Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President. More at NPR.org
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Praise for TEN LETTERS:
“Ten Letters is a luminous book. Eli Saslow, one of the great young journalists in America, has found his way around the cynicism and superficiality of Washington politics to show the profound real-life connections between the White House and the people.”
-- David Maraniss
"In this testament to the power of the written word, the country's most vexing challenges, from immigration to education, healthcare to housing, are seen through the eyes of both persons directly affected by them and one person uniquely positioned to do something about them."