Every day, President Obama received ten thousand letters from constituents. Every night, he read ten of them before going to bed. This is the story of the profound ways in which they shaped his presidency.
Every evening for 8 years, at his request, President Obama received a binder containing ten handpicked letters from ordinary American citizens — the unfiltered voice of a nation — from his Office of Presidential Correspondence. He was the first to President to save constituent mail, and this is the story of how those letters affected not only the President and his policies, but also the deeply committed people who were tasked with opening the millions of pleas, rants, thank yous, and apologies that landed in the White House mailroom.
Based on the popular New York Times article, “To Obama,” Laskas now interviews the letter writers themselves and the White House staff who sifted through the powerful, moving, and incredibly intimate narrative of America during the Obama years emerges: There is Kelli, who saw her grandfathers finally marry – legally — after 35 years together; Bill, a lifelong Republican whose attitude toward immigration reform was transformed when he met a boy escaping M-16 gang leaders in El Salvador; Heba, a Syrian refugee who wants to forget the day the tanks rolled into her village; Marjorie, who grappled with disturbing feelings of racial bias lurking within her during the George Zimmerman trial; and Vicki, whose family was torn apart by those who voted for Trump and those who did not.
They wrote to Obama out of gratitude and desperation, in their darkest times of need, in search of connection. They wrote with anger and respect. And together, this chorus of voices achieves a kind of beautiful harmony: here is a diary of a nation. To Obamais an intimate look at one man’s relationship to the American people, and the the intersection of politics and empathy in the White House.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a Physical copy of the book by Bloomsbury India in exchange for an honest review. However, all the thoughts, feelings and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I rarely read non fiction books – but when Bloomsbury introduced this book about Letters written to Mr. Barack Obama during his two terms of Presidency.
Spanning a decade, it was eye opening and definitely nostalgic to see Public’s reaction to a President they didn’t expect to love to a President they came to respect and admire – but most of all miss when the current President was announced.
This is a book about Mr. Obama’s policy to reply to 10 letters each day – a policy that I came to see not only affected his own policy and decisions but also see how this wonderful man loved his country and all the people in it. He treated even the worst of criticism with politeness and at times also use that criticism to find a way to better the condition for his country and its people.
In the current tremulous times, when all you see is hate, fear and discrimination under a President of a country whose is slowly but surely destroying the world’s faith in humanity – this book is a ray of hope – hope that one day things might get better, that humanity will rise above hate, fear and discrimination.
From the time he took oath to lead the most powerful country in this world till the time he was faced with the decision to transfer those reigns to a man who is misogynistic, filled with hate for things he doesn’t understand, to protecting only what he understands, who holds hate and fear above the heads of everyone else – this man handled every decision with poise and grace that makes me, a non – American, that he was back in the office.
I have laughed, cried and sympathized with each of the letters, for their problems are what each one of us face in our own country – To Obama is a book I would recommend to any and all, for it is a look at an administration that was kind, loyal and definitely more humane than the current administration.
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