The Prestas were Chicago community activists who ran a bookstore called Reading on Walden in 2000 when Obama mounted his campaign for a House seat. The newcomer sought out the Prestas to help drum up excitement for his bid and to build a grassroots organization to get him elected. That time around, the campaign came up short — Obama lost the election.

But the Prestas stayed active. With their help organizing, Obama tried again in 2004, this time for a Senate seat, and he managed to beat the Chicago political machine and headed off to Washington. The rest, as they say, is history.

John Presta has now written a book “Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers Did It,” published this month by The Elevator Group. The book gives an early-days view of Obama’s rise and a glimpse into his youthful confidence and determination.

After sending the president a copy of the book, John and Michelle Presta received the following letter from the White House.


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