In this hilarious memoir, 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. On her first day on the job, she overpacked and needed to empty the contents of her bag to find her recorder while flying on Air Force One: “Oh, dear God, my travel-sized hair straightener in its little travel-sized hot pink silk bag looks like a vibrator! Jay Carney thought I was talking to him, on Air Force One, with a vibrator in my hand.” When she forgets her underwear for another overnight, she notes, “Today, I’ll be traveling commando with the commander in chief.” Dorey-Stein traveled with the president’s envoy across the world—to Cuba, Mexico, India, and Saudi Arabia—and to all corners of the U.S. 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. (July)
[Beck Dorey-Stein’s] breezy page turner is essentially Bridget Jones goes to the White House.”—Peter Baker, The New York Times
“Obama administration memoirs are rolling in, but in a refreshing twist From the Corner of the Oval swaps policy for good old-fashioned workplace drama. . . . Readers won’t find state secrets so much as they’ll get a glimpse at what life was really like working for the most historical of administrations. There are countless flights on Air Force One, late nights at four-star hotel bars in far-flung locations, and a bravely honest retelling of her workplace affair.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Who knew the West Wing could be so sexy? Beck Dorey-Stein’s unparalleled access is obvious on every page, along with her knife-sharp humor. I tore through the entire book on a four-hour flight and loved reading all about the brilliant yet hard-partying people who once surrounded the leader of the free world. Lots of books claim to give real insider glimpses, but this one actually delivers.”—Lauren Weisberger, author of The Devil Wears Prada
“[Dorey-Stein] 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.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Addictively readable . . . Dorey-Stein absorbs it all with a fine eye for detail and conveys it with freshness, candor and humor. . . . She may be a stenographer, but this is not typing; this is writing. . . . It is a testament to Dorey-Stein’s charm and her writing chops that we root for her throughout. . . . From the Corner of the Oval has been aptly dubbed The West Wing meets Devil Wears Prada. I see it more as C-Span meets Sex and the City—but with more drinking and even more sex. . . . Dorey-Stein’s spunk and her sparkling, crackling prose had me cheering for her through each adventure. . . . She never loses her starry-eyed optimism, her pinch-me wonderment, her Working Girl pluck. Which makes From the Corner of the Oval somehow, against the odds, a story of hope.”—Paul Begala, The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“A few weeks ago, what I always fear will happen actually did happen. I’d been reading Beck Dorey-Stein’s engrossing memoir, From the Corner of the Oval, out July 10, on my commute home. ‘Huh,’ I thought, as I looked up from my book and saw a slightly unfamiliar landscape whir by. ‘This train ride seems longer than usual.’ And it was. I had been so absorbed in Dorey-Stein’s insider recollections of the Obama White House that I’d missed my stop entirely.”—Refinery29 (Best New Books For July 2018)
“Dorey-Stein brings readers along for romance, heartbreak, and growing up.”—Bustle
“History lesson meets soap opera. In this poignant, brutally honest, and often-funny work of self-reflection, Dorey-Stein pulls no punches and tells all she learned from and about the president who ‘taught me to look up.’”—Booklist
“Hilarious . . . Dorey-Stein writes with honesty and panache.”—Publishers Weekly
It may seem improbable that answering an ad for a position as a stenographer on Craigslist would lead to a dream job as a staff member of the Obama administration, but that's what happened to Dorey-Stein. For five years, as part of the White House steno pool, the author attended interviews and dignitary visits in the Oval Office and other White House venues, traveled the world on Air Force One, and rode in presidential motorcades to tape Obama's remarks and transcribe them for press releases and administrative record. Providing plenty of stories about incidental interactions with POTUS and a solid account of life in "the Bubble," Dorey-Stein also describes relationships with White House staff members—both romantic and platonic. Through it all, the author maintained close friendships with other women working in the White House who supported her during her emotional crises and whom she, in turn, did the same. VERDICT Dorey-Stein offers a fascinating look at the lower-level workings of White House operations. Readers who enjoy insider stories about the presidential office, specifically the Obama administration, will enjoy this book immensely.—Jill Ortner, SUNY Buffalo Libs.
Politics and romance among Barack Obama's staffers.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." She suspected she wouldn't live in "this ego swamp of a city" for long, however, even after she fell in love with Sam, a Californian who worked on the Obama campaign in 2008. 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. Jason cheated on his girlfriend with Dorey-Stein, and Dorey-Stein felt guilty about cheating on Sam. Before long, Jason cheated on the author, the author confided in female colleagues, a couple of whom Jason subsequently pursued, and on it went. 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. ("We should hang out!" Dorey-Stein told Jason shortly after they met. "Definitely!" he replied.) The author does provide some interesting behind-the-scenes glimpses: jogging next to Obama on adjacent treadmills; Obama's reminiscing aboard Marine One about the day he met Michelle; and a genuinely touching section on the 2015 shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, when, after the service, an emotionally drained Obama walked through Air Force One and uncharacteristically didn't talk to anyone.Gossipy books can be fun; if only this one had been better written.