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'.
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.
In 2011, 25-year-old Dorey-Stein moved to Washington, D.C., to spend a semester teaching at Sidwell Friends, the school to which presidents and Congress members send their children. Her job was 'to help those hormonally charged stressballs chill out' ... Then she responded to a Craigslist ad for a stenographer position that turned out to be a job at the White House. For the next five years, she traveled the world with Obama, recording his speeches and interviews and releasing official transcripts ... The author’s focus, however, is not politics but relationships, most notably her romance with Jason, a senior staff member she initially referred to as Jim Carrey’s doppelgänger ... Much of the book reads more like commercial fiction than political memoir, with lines such as, 'my chest clenches as though my ribs are biting down on my heart.' Even readers who enjoy a mix of romance and politics may tire of the countless I’m-so-lucky, how-is-this-my-life exclamations and the effusive dialogue ... Politics and romance among Barack Obama’s staffers.