Tim Stanley

Yours, Mr President

To Obama: With Love, Joy, Hate, and Despair

By

Bloomsbury 401pp £20 order from our bookshop

It’s good to admit when you get things wrong. For a start, I assumed I’d hate this book. Jeanne Marie Laskas has combed through the letters sent to Barack Obama in the White House, plus his answers, to compile a history of his administration through the eyes of ordinary people. Yuck. The pitch made me think of my visit to the White House in 2009, when I was led past countless photos of the demigod Obama – Obama opens a library, Obama milks a cow, you get the idea – and marvelled at the mixture of innocence and vanity. Couldn’t they see that Obama was just a good speaker? Wasn’t it obvious that he didn’t actually have a clue what he was doing?

Well, now it’s a decade later and Obama looks very different. Like a lot of traditionalists, I thought Obama was a radical. I now realise he was actually rather conservative – and what more proof do you need than the fact that he wrote letters? By hand!

Follow Literary Review on Twitter