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Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  309 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
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 risin ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2011)
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I'm not one to cry when reading books; however, there were a few times during this read that I was moved to tears. The stories these Americans tell their President come across genuine and speak volumes for the struggles many face in modern America. Initially, I was concerned the author was going to preach too much "Obama-love"; however, he seemed to be fair and include both criticisms and praise. You'll read a letter from a tea-party conservative in one chapter and one from an Obama campaign vol ...more
Hank Stuever
Jul 31, 2012 Hank Stuever rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eli is a colleague of mine at The Washington Post (he works for the National desk; I'm downstairs in the Style section). This is an extremely even-handed, empathetic look at how Americans are feeling in the Obama Age, told through the voluminous amount of letters and e-mails that come addressed to the President. Eli wrote a story about how the mail gets sorted and how 10 letters are chosen every day to be delivered to Obama, and what he does after he reads them. Some of the letters are desperate ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Sabrina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, for-work
Every night, President Obama opens a purple folder that is tucked inside his daily briefing book. The purple folder contains ten letters (emails or faxes) that have been received by the White House. These pieces of correspondence are unvetted, per Obama's request, for this is one of the ways that he chooses to help him feel connected beyond the bubble that surrounds him as President. The letters in that purple folder range from letters that praise Obama to those that plead with him to address a ...more
Apr 20, 2014 Eileen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I selected this book up at the school library; it was in the new book area. Glad I read it. It was written that about 20,000 letters arrive at the White House each day. Many people assist in sorting these letters and ten are selected each day to be placed in a purple folder that the President receives each evening. These ten letters are supposed to represent the real stories outside the White House. The author of this book selected ten letters from people who wrote to President Obama about their ...more
Jan 01, 2015 Marie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like the idea of this book. I liked the fact that the President reads 10 letters from real citizens every day as a way to stay in touch with regular citizens. I think this makes sense and is a very interesting concept. I enjoyed about 2/3 of the stories. The stories about the people and their lives and how it relates to the President's thought process were really intriguing and interesting.

I gave it three stars because the stories could have been more about the people and less about th
Cheryl Gatling
Americans write thousands of letters to their President. These are opened and sorted by staff members. Every day they pick ten representative letters and deliver them to President Obama in a purple folder. Sometimes he responds to them. Sometimes he doesn't. But he looks forward to his daily ten letters as a way of keeping in touch with what's really going on outside the presidential bubble where he feels trapped, unable to get out and talk with people as he used to, and as he would like to.

Ross Mccall
Mar 18, 2015 Ross Mccall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read two incredible books by David Finkel I was inspired to pick up this book by one of the journalists he trained. I wasn't disappointed. Each chapter is like a perfect stand alone article you might find in a quality magazine. Some are more interesting than they are moving, and some, such as the chapter about people bullied at school for being gay, brought me to tears.

All ten letters were fascinating in their own ways and together the cumulative effect was like a bird's eye view of Amer
Richard Worden
Jan 09, 2015 Richard Worden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It may seem strange for a Canadian to read this book; however, it humanizes the President of the USA and offers an understanding of the US government system. The USA is huge country with very distinct regions and President Obama's simple and yet demanding task (because of the sheer volume of response) of learning what the grassroots are experiencing offers spell binding stories. When a person is at the grassroots solutions to problems seem very simple because a person has only a limited view and ...more
Jan 26, 2014 Correen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A group of reviewers reads letters to President Obama and selects 10 each day, representing an unbiased representation of the letters received that day. Obama considers these letters to balance the reports he is given by his advisers. Letters that threaten the president and those that use abusive language are not forwarded. Other than that, the letters represent the same ratio of criticism and praise as the entire batch for a given day.

The stories were touching and told enough of the writers' l
Nov 13, 2011 Kathi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read whether you are a fan of President Obama or not.
Jessica Medved
Feb 02, 2016 Jessica Medved rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually really enjoyed this read.
It was a nice insight into who Obama is and what he does and how he stays connected. I think another thing that drew me to this read is the real stories. These were real people who wanted real answers and they got them.
It is stuff we can all relate to - we all have been there or have known someone who has been there and it is nice to know that someone is listening.

I would recommend this read to any one who likes human interest stories or politics and current
Ten Letters is a book about letters President Obama receives from across America. Each day President Obama's staff sorts through the emails and letters and provides him with 10 letters that are representative of what people send. In this book, ten letters are chosen to represent ten different issues facing Americans -- the economy, the oil spill, immigration reform, gay rights, etc. The author, Eli Saslow, then followed up with each of the letter writers to tell us their life stories and why the ...more
Allison Hiltz
“Ten Letters” explores the issues that everyday Americans encounter, including a lack of access to education, rising health costs, the BP oil spill, and more. Each of these issues and stories is familiar. I could personally identify with the effects of the rising costs of healthcare and higher education. I sympathized with Jessica Duran, a high schooler who couldn’t find a part-time job to pay the bills. My heart broke for Na’Dreya Lattimore, the fifth grader that felt she was being shafted in h ...more
Jan 19, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not a pick-me up, feel good book and it's not something to read if you are not willing to accept the reality of a large number of people in America today. However, it is something that I hope everyone reads with an open mind and heart to understand the pressures people face every day and when they feel no one else is listening, they tell their President.

When I first started reading, I quickly realized that I need to just read - not judge. To those that are interested in reading it,
Oct 30, 2013 Casey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saslow is just brilliant. His writing is hard for me to articulate: it's simple and clear, yet he finds a way to bring horrific circumstances and stories to a beautiful life. His sentences are punchy and leave nothing unexplained; he has a distinct way of wording what could be hard to understand political policies into very clear and concise prose. And yet there isn't a single story in this book that didn't raise the hair on my arms; these stories are just remarkable. They are stories of ordinar ...more
Hannah Smith
Jan 07, 2012 Hannah Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Potential to engage students and spark passionate discussion-5
There several points in this book that are important to Americans today. I think this could spark a very passionate discussion, however this book was extremely one sided and sympathized with Obama. It also tried to blame a lot of problems on the Republican party dragging their feet, when this wasn't exactly the case.
Potential to appeal to a wide range of students-4
There was one person in the book that was worried about the cost of col
Feb 08, 2013 Zach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eli Saslow's "Ten Letters" is a well-researched, inspiring read that examines the lives of ten ordinary Americans who felt the need to write to President Obama about their unique circumstances. Each of these writers were probably not expecting Obama to actually read their letters, even less so a response. Mr. Saslow examines the process by how regular American's letters are selected to appear on President Obama's desk. The ten letter-writers in "Ten Letters" are some of the people who have recei ...more
Oct 25, 2012 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Those who know me know that I am a sucker for a true, pesonal story. These stories were no exception. Plus it was a great review of the past four years -- I hadn't thought about the BP oil spill in way too long, and I'd totally forgotten how long it took Obama to contemplate and decide on his Afghanistan strategy.

I had been afraid that the book was going to imply that writing a letter to the President (or receiving a response from him) somehow totally changed the letter writer's life, and that
Jan 31, 2012 Almira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ten Letters by Eli Saslow, reads like a novel. His approach to the individuals who have written letters to President Obama is quite discerning, he gets to the heart of each person's view of why and what they wrote to the President.

Eli also gives much background history as to how each president viewed mail they received. FDR was the first who really received major amounts of mail after he started his fireside chats. With each major historic event during a President's term, the letters and staff n
Mar 02, 2014 Jesse rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If nothing else, at least the author proved that he has carefully studied and can diligently imitate the president, whom he obviously worships. The book was used for much the same purpose that President Obama used the letters described, to spout politics, push agendas, and tug at the heartstrings a little while doing so. That being said, it was interesting and enjoyable to hear some of the stories and get to know a little about some of these letter writers.
Feb 17, 2012 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had heard about this book on NPR and the author seemed like a nice guy with interesting stories to tell. I thought there would be a bit more about different presidents and how they handled mail from the public but there was only a couple paragraphs on that. Instead it gave a personal look at 10 different citizens in the U.S who had become steamed enough to write the president, never thinking the president would actually read their letter. The book is easy to read and I enjoyed getting to know ...more
This book was more about President Obama than I thought it would be, but I didn't really mind. I did think the book struggled between telling stories of Americans and telling stories of the President. I enjoyed the book, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had chosen between one of this, so it didn't end up feeling like we were skimming the lives of Americans who wrote letters, or skimming how The Prez receives or responds to these letters.

These ten letters are chosen to represent ten
I really wished this book had an introduction. Until I read the author's acknowledgments at the end, I didn't know if this book was coming out of the Obama administration (not that I'd mind, I'd just want to know)or if it was being done from an independent source who had been given access to the letters.

Regardless, I thought this was a nice glimpse at what drives someone to sit down and write a letter to the leader of their country. I appreciate that the President chooses to read 10 letters eve
Cindy S.
Feb 16, 2012 Cindy S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every day President Obama reads 10 letters selected from the thousands the White House receives. The letters in this book are representative of some of the most important struggles typical Americans are facing on a daily basis.

These are the real stories behind the CNN newsbites that we tune out to every day. Each letter is a short story about a slice of American life, and I learned so much more about the issues this country is dealing with from reading about these Americans.

Not all of the citize
Sep 03, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Humanized a lot of political issues. Great storytelling. Feels a little one-sided at times, but worth it to hear these peoples' deeply personal stories about things that matter like health care and immigration reform.
Feb 03, 2016 Delta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I almost never read books about politics; I just don't find them interesting. But I'm kind of glad I read this one. The stories are inspiring and emotional.
Jan 03, 2012 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a bookclub selection and not a book I would have picked on my own. I am so glad it was chosen! The book brings history to the Presidential letter writing system. I was fascinated to learn how and why the letter office was devloped, how it is staffed and how President Obama receives the letters he reads each night. The personal stories of the letter writers had me in tears. Literally. I didn't think this book would cause personal reflection on my life, but it did.

The author is a journali
Mar 02, 2015 Alesia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
really interesting made me smile and cry. Made me remember and relive the election of 2008! OBAMA!
Dan Strayer
Dec 18, 2014 Dan Strayer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a pretty good read, overall. My opinion of president Obama is higher now than it was before!
Emma S
Jun 29, 2014 Emma S rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The idea is nifty, but the book itself is merely so-so. A little too hagiographic in parts.
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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.
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