Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco, 248 pages

For six years, Alyssa Mastromonaco worked as an assistant to Barack Obama. She started working for him when he was the junior senator from Illinois and left not long after his second presidential inauguration. Through all that time, she managed Obama's incredibly complex schedule, travel logistics, staff and nominee vetting, and more, sitting in on classified meetings and accompanying him on most of his diplomatic trips around the world. In this memoir, Mastromonaco offers up her thoughts on these experiences, as well as some of her basic rules of life and success in politics when you're not a politician.

While countless political staffers (including several discussed in this book) have written their own memoirs, Mastromonaco's stands out because it has a decidedly casual and self-deprecating feel (turns out she's pals with Mindy Kaling and it shows in their similar writing styles) and it focuses more on the events that she missed (including inaugural balls) than the ones she attended. Also, she's a woman. Very few women have sat in the same chairs she sat in and, until Mastromonaco, none of them had written memoirs of their time in the White House. So when Mastromonaco kicks off her book with a story of how she got a tampon machine in the ladies' room in the West Wing, it's obvious that this is going to be unlike any other White House memoir on the shelf. While it took me a while to get into the groove of Mastromonaco's storytelling style, I ended up really enjoying the book.

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