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WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? by Alyssa Mastromonaco


And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House

by Alyssa Mastromonaco with Lauren Oyler

Pub Date: March 21st, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-4555-8822-0
Publisher: Twelve

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.