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To Obama

A Diary of a Nation
Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
5 out of 5 stars (31 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

President Barack Obama received 10,000 letters a day from his constituents. This is the story of the private and profound relationship with letter writers that shaped his presidency. Their voices combine to reveal a diary of a nation.

Every evening for eight years, at his request, President Obama was given 10 handpicked letters written by ordinary American citizens - the unfiltered voice of a nation - from his Office of Presidential Correspondence. He was the first president to interact daily with constituent mail and to archive it in its entirety. The letters affected not only the president and his policies but also the deeply committed people who were tasked with opening and reading the millions of pleas, rants, thank-yous, and apologies that landed in the White House mailroom.

In To Obama, Jeanne Marie Laskas interviews President Obama, 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: There is Kelli, who saw her grandfathers finally marry - legally - after thirty-five years together; Bill, a lifelong Republican whose attitude toward immigration reform was transformed when he met a boy escaping MS-13 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, fear, and respect. And together, this chorus of voices achieves a kind of beautiful harmony. To Obama is an intimate look at one man’s relationship to the American people, and at a time when empathy intersected with politics in the White House.

Full list of narrators includes: Macleod Andrews, Paula Christensen, Michael Crouch, Donna Coltharp, Sheryl Cousineau, Shane Darby, Ramon De Ocampo, Robert Fass, Lauren Fortang, Kyla Garcia, Heba Hallak, Marnie Hazelton, Lacey Higley, Tom Hoefner, Hillary Huber, Bobby Ingram, Marjorie McKinney, Thomas Meehan, Bob Melton, Alex Myteberi, Adenrele Ojo, Bill Oliver, Christine Reisman, Tara Sands, Vicki Shearer, Marc Thompson, and Emily Woo Zeller.

©2018 Jeanne Marie Laskas (P)2018 Random House Audio

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a must have audible book or print, it will amaze u

loved everything about this audio book, very well written and explained. a must have asap.

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  • 03-31-19

Excellent Read

This was a great read. Both learning about how they developed a process for answering constituent mail and the outcome of that process was very interesting. The sampling of letters and their impact on staff and President Obama was thought provoking and emotional at times. I enjoyed the backstory about the people who wrote some of the letters and how the President's response impacted them. The use of mail to shape policy was wonderful to learn about. While I have always known that policies often come from personal stories, I did not realize how important the mail was in this impact. I was happy to see them include mail of all varieties - those praising and thanking President Obama and those who disliked him, as well as those asking for help. It was a good sampling of America and all of the influences that occur. I enjoyed hearing how they handed off their process to President Trump's team, although I would be surprised if his administration continued in this manner.