Ten Letters

The Stories Americans Tell Their President

Publisher: Anchor

In this inspiring and powerful look at the issues facing Americans today, reporter Eli Saslow creates vivid portraits of the lives of ten citizens who corresponded with President Obama. Their letters, and the president’s handwritten responses, tell of the personal struggles behind everything from healthcare to immigration to war. One mother writes to express her fears about the wellbeing of a son currently deployed in Afghanistan. A young girl in Kentucky shares her frustrations while attending one of the country’s worst schools, and the president relies on her story in his push for education reform. What these ten letters reveal about the relationship between a president and the people he governs is deeply affecting, and what ultimately emerges from within the stories is the incredible endurance and optimism of the American people.


Chapter 1
“I lost my job, my health benefits and my self worth in a matter of 5 days.”
The nightly briefing book arrived at the White House residence just before 8:00 p.m., hand--delivered to President Obama by a junior member of his staff. It was a large, three--ring binder...
Read More


Praise for Ten Letters:

"A luminous book. . . . Saslow 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
"Saslow has a feel for the tender spots in these people's stories. . . . The plainspokenness, decency and human dignity they display leave a lasting impression.”
—Washington Post 

"Saslow is a master at evoking the authors’ stories through vivid dialogue, vignettes of daily life, and powerful language. . . . [He] does not romanticize these individuals; the people Saslow introduces his readers to are those they run into on the street every day. . . . Ten Letters gently reminds us of those defining elements that remain as true as ever in Americans’ relationship to their president."
Harvard Political Review

"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."

"[The stories] offer an intimate glimpse into the lives of people who are hopeful, and sometimes desperate, to be heard."
Kirkus Reviews
"Exceptionally relevant and poignant . . . 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. . . .  Inspiring and important."
—FrogenYozurt.com Online Magazine