Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? - Alyssa Mastromonaco

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?
Title: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House
Author: Alyssa Mastromonaco
Publication Date: 3/21/2017
Pages: 244
Genre: Memoir / Political / Nonfiction
How I Found It: Mastromonaco is a frequent guest on the popular political podcast, Pod Save America.
Date Completed: 2/14/18

Summary: From her days in the office of then-Senator Obama to her role as Deputy Chief of Staff to President Obama, Mastromonaco pulls back the curtain to life as a political staffer - the good, the bad, and the hilarious.

What I Thought: This was such a fun read. Not only was there tons of interesting behind-the-scenes info about working for and with Barack Obama, but Mastromonaco is also quite funny. She has a sharp, witty sense of humor which aligns well with my own. Hearing her retell the stories of how she got a tampon dispenser installed in the women's restroom in the West Wing (seriously?! It took until the Obama administration for this to happen?!) or how then-Senator Obama walked in on her doing sit-ups in her office...she's self-deprecating and amusing and delightfully honest about the realities of working such a unique job. 

Mastromonaco also lays out her untraditional path to the White House. She certainly doesn't have the expected job trajectory to end up as Deputy Chief of Staff. As she shares her journey, she shares professional wisdom that could help young women such as she once was - women like me - find their way to their professional goals. Most of it is super practical things such as saying, "I'm sure there's a salary band for the position, and my hope would be to come in at the high end of that." when discussing potential salary at a new job. I didn't expect that part of the book, nor did I expect to be so encouraged and inspired by some of what she said. '

This book is part of my 2018 TBR Challenge!
What I most enjoyed about the book was getting an insider perspective on some of the most famous faces in politics over the last decade. It's reassuring to see that the Obamas are who they appear to be in public. Mastromonaco reinforced my suspicions that neither of the pair are terribly comfortable with the spotlight. They prefer informality and authenticity. In a world where so much of politics is a show, it's refreshing to know there are at least two people who are what they seem to be.

If you are feeling nostalgic for the Obama years or just interested in a political coming-of-age story or want some real-life Veep stories, this book is for you. Mastromonaco offers such a nice balance of substance and entertainment. I wonder if her book is an indicator of political memoirs to come as we transition to the next generation of political minds, many of whom got their start in the Obama administration. If this is what's ahead for political reading, I look forward to the sea change. 

Quote I Loved: "Preparation is protection you can create for yourself; for some people, the hard part may be balancing precautions with paranoia, but in my experience, you can never be too prepared."

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Maybe
If You Liked This, Try: Off the Sidelines What Happened The Hopefuls

A Reduced Review: A funny political memoir that also offers thoughtful discussion, helpful advice, and an insider perspective on life behind the scenes in Washington.

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