From the Corner of the Oval

From the Corner of the Oval
Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
Publisher: Random House
Publication Year: 2019

Beck Dorey-Stein was working five jobs trying to make ends meet in Washington, D.C., when she responded to a Craigslist ad for a stenographer. She lands in the the White House, where she spends the next five years as the "least important person in the room" and witness to the history of Obama's administration.

Dorey is a talented writer and she lets her twenty-something voice fly as she details the intensity of working among the world's most powerful people--who are supported by a team of very young, very ambitious, and very intense staff members. The juxtaposition of national politics and international diplomacy with the endless drama and poor decisions of Dorey-Stein's own life is stark. Her personal drama (and there is a lot) no doubt added to the intensity of her experience and I found some of it voyeuristically entertaining, but the big fascination here is the machine behind every move the president makes.

Having encountered some of the "D.C. creatures" that Dorey-Stein writes about, the culture she describes was familiar and one that I've always been glad to be outside of. However, I have found--as she did--that even inside this culture, there are many hardworking people who truly care about what they are working toward. I appreciated that she never lost sight of what a privilege it was to have a front-row seat to Obama's presidency. That she was able to write about it in a fun and juicy way made looking back on it with her all that more enjoyable.

About the Book

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Publisher’s Description

The compulsively readable, behind-the-scenes memoir that takes readers inside the Obama White House, through the eyes of a young staffer learning the ropes, falling in love, and finding her place in the world.

In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein was just scraping by in DC when a posting on Craigslist landed her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate DC outsider, she joined the elite team who accompanied the president wherever he went, recorder and mic in hand. On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forged friendships with a tight group of fellow travelers–young men and women who, like her, left their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president. But as she learned the ropes of protocol, Beck became romantically entangled with a consummate DC insider, and suddenly, the political became all too personal. Set against the backdrop of a White House full of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and discovering her voice in the process.

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