An entertaining look inside the White House.



President Barack Obama’s former deputy chief of staff makes her literary debut in a candid and charming memoir of her unexpected career in government.

Growing up in upstate New York, Mastromonaco, now the chief communications and talent officer at A&E Networks, describes herself as a “good(-ish) student” with no real career aspirations. She majored in French and had a summer internship with Bernie Sanders. After graduating, she worked as a paralegal and then for John Kerry as staff assistant to the press and, during his 2004 presidential campaign, as deputy scheduler, a post she portrays as grueling. “There is no more important commodity than the candidate’s time,” she quickly learned. After Kerry lost, a friend suggested she interview for a job with Obama, who was running for the Senate. Beginning with that campaign, she worked her way up to becoming the youngest deputy chief of staff. As a woman in a male-dominated field, Mastromonaco has been repeatedly asked, “how could someone like you end up in a job like that?” This book, written with the assistance of Broadly contributing editor Oyler, is her answer, addressed to women considering a leap into the demanding, “hierarchical and patriarchal” world of politics. “I think my story can make you all feel less alone, less weird, less anxious, and more confident,” she writes, encouragingly. The workload, she readily admits, is overwhelming: “Everyone thinks that traveling with the president has got to be a sweet gig—lush service, pampering, the nicest meals. It is not.” It requires juggling myriad tasks and being ready to handle any emergency. Her hair turned white from stress. Mastromonaco portrays Obama as kind, smart, focused, and utterly committed to his ideals. Even when he decided to run for president, she writes, he wasn’t “buying into his own hype.” The memoir abounds with intimate glimpses of Washington, D.C., celebrities (Biden, Clinton, Michelle Obama, and scores more) and cheerfully dispensed survival strategies.

An entertaining look inside the White House.

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4555-8822-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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