As Beck Dorey-Stein learns to navigate White House protocols and more than once runs afoul of the hierarchy, [she] becomes romantically entangled with a consummate D.C. insider, and suddenly the political becomes all too personal
'I want to be quiet a little bit and not hear myself talk so darn much,' Barack Obama said of his postpresidency plans during his final White House press conference, and for the most part he has lived up to that aspiration. But he hasn’t needed to say much. Every couple of months, it seems, one of his former staffers comes out with a book recalling the Obama years and defending the Obama legacy ... There was such energy and excitement in the White House from 2009 to 2017 that even Mr. Obama’s stenographer felt compelled to write a memoir ... but From the Corner of the Oval doesn’t engage in the prickly defensiveness of other Obama-era memoirs. Ms. Dorey-Stein is too good a writer to ruin her book with tendentious griping. She writes with wit and self-deprecating humor but is fully aware, too, of the pomposity and petty spite of official Washington. She’s at her best and funniest when recalling the physically unhealthy and vaguely ridiculous work of following the president wherever he goes. After an overnight flight on Air Force One, she writes, 'all the lights are on in the staff cabin, and everyone is quietly eating their huevos rancheros in their business casual'.
Where the Trump White House reads as The Scottish Play, equal parts snake pit and crab bucket, Dorey-Stein’s White House is socially complex yet soapy, the imminent end of Obama’s term—and the ad hoc universe which spun around him—sand through the hour glass ... Dorey-Stein reveals the joy which can be found serving at the pleasure of a President one believes in. In a glass cutter voice equal parts Sorkin and Weisberger, Dorey-Stein writes the perfect anodyne to the cruelty of the politics of the moment, unafraid of reveling in the love affairs and cliques which come caked in sweat and the enamel of ground teeth. She tells us of people, an incredibly difficult and rare thing to achieve in the realm of political writing; the effect is something like being pulled aside as a freshman by the captain of the lacrosse team—the one the players love, not fear—and feeling the effervescent inspiration.
Dorey-Stein gives an insider’s glimpse into the White House from her perch as Barack Obama’s stenographer. In 2012, 25-year-old Stein responded to a Craigslist advertisement to be a stenographer at a law firm; the 'law firm' was the White House ... As Dorey-Stein became accustomed to living aboard Air Force One, she began an affair with a man in the president’s inner circle. What follows is pure tragicomedy, and Dorey-Stein writes with honesty and panache about her fun job and her eventual heartbreak. It’s thrilling to get a front-row seat to the Obama White House, and she has stayed on with the Trump administration, where the 'West Exec parking lot is no longer filled with Priuses and Chevys but with Porsches and Maseratis.' Beltway gossip hounds will hope to hear more from Dorey-Stein.