Author of the week
No one has ever written a White House memoir like Alyssa Mastromonaco’s, said Rebecca Nelson in Cosmopolitan.com. A longtime aide to Barack Obama, the Rhinebeck, N.Y., native was once was labeled “one of Washington’s most powerful, least famous people.” But the former deputy chief of staff wanted to demystify the White House workplace experience. So in Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? she tells tales about being caught with her shoes off, about hunting desperately for a bathroom while visiting the Vatican, and about making operational decisions that would earn an email from the president asking the ribbing question she chose as the book’s title. A 2008 outdoor campaign speech during a hailstorm? That was Mastromonaco’s idea. “This book, hopefully, makes government a little more relatable, a little less scary,” she says.
Mastromonaco consistently presents a cartoon version of herself, said Caitlin Flanagan in The Washington Post. But the former grocery clerk was also helping run the country by the time she was 32, and her book shows how she made the climb mostly by throwing herself enthusiastically into every task along the way. The White House she describes sounds like it was a pretty good place to work, but she doesn’t pretend it was always a well-oiled machine, and that gives her a bit of sympathy for the new team at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. “I remember when Hurricane Katrina happened, and I was like, ‘F--- George Bush! This is terrible,’” she says. “And then you get in the White House, and you take a beat, and you’re like, ‘God. I can understand how that can happen.’”