Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President, by Eli Saslow

Throughout the course of his administration, President Barack Obama received a purple file folder containing ten letters every evening. Some were letters of appreciation, some held a desperate edge, others were downright hostile. Each was from a citizen reaching out to the President. Obama frequently talked about these letters; how they allowed him to tap into the hearts and minds of the people–those who loved him, those who hated him, and everyone in between. In Ten Letters, author Eli Saslow tells the stories behind the letters, introducing readers to the citizens whose concerns ranged from health care and poverty to immigration and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

I have read another similar book, To Obama: With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope, and I thoroughly enjoyed both. What is most inspiring to me is the example of a person willing to listen and consider points of view that are so different from his own. It’s easy to dismiss people who don’t agree with us; it’s harder to truly listen and try to understand. Especially today, when it feels like conversation and considerate debate are extinct among the throngs of people who are either trying to be heard by shouting louder or who have closed their minds and hearts to anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

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