Cover Image: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

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Member Reviews

I cannot guess how much coffee Alyssa Mastromonaco drinks in a 24hr period.

As the former chief of staff for President Obama, her honest take on the basic chaos that happens on a daily basis, when everything goes right, fascinated me. Far more that goes on behind the scenes than I could have ever anticipated.

But Mastromonaco worked with Obama before he became president, so they had a good, mutually respectful professional relationship and it's great to read about adults acting like adults. 

Pulling off miracles at crunch time as well as keeping gratitude during it all, comes through her words. 

She's fearless and funny with a great flare for making the impossible be possible. 

Geared towards a YA crowd, but enjoyable for anyone who likes reading about behind the scenes stories, I enjoyed this book. 

I appreciate the publisher giving me the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review.
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***Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***
I love Barack Obama and was excited to read more about his time in office. I especially enjoyed the humorous moments.
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Usually I’m not one for memoirs or political nonfiction, but Alyssa Mastromonaco’s narrative of her years working for Barack Obama was a joy to read. 

I first became aware of Mastromonaco when she was a guest on Bad on Paper podcast. Her no-nonsense style of talking politics combined with her sense of humor and empathy make her not only a likable Nonfiction protagonist, but one who is aspirational as well. 

I could have done without all the TMI bathroom info she shared, but the rest of the White House Staffers: They’re Just Like Us! schtick played beautifully. 

This is a nice short read that provides a bit of education on how the presidential machine functions day to day, written by a woman who you’ll wish was both your boss and your best friend.
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Wow. Just wow. The openness of this book was astounding. The true grit and depth  the author takes you to is wonderful.
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I really enjoyed this book! It is rare that I read political memoirs, but this one grabbed my attention. From the first page I related to the author and was also captivated by her window into the presidency. 
I think it is a great read for anyone interested in Obama, fans of Veep, or just readers who enjoy humorous essays. This book has a lot of appeal for a wide range of readers.
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Mastromonaco feels like an old friend who just happened to work for Obama. This book is a quick read/listen full of anecdotes and pieces of professional advice. I also loved her casual mention about how IBS affected her life on the road working for POTUS, and I almost cried when, after her cat died once she left the White House, Obama called her to send his regrets. Because he’s simply the best. I’m excited to listen to Mastromonaco’s new book.
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A very interesting memoir of a young person's political education and working with President Obama. A very honest book, the author engages with not only her own mistakes but doesn't sugar-coat problems that arose during the Obama administration. Engaging, sometimes entertaining, and filled with interesting observations about life, work, politics, and the presidency. I really enjoyed it. (Also highly recommend the Crooked Media podcasts, on which Mastromonaco is a frequent guest.)
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Alyssa Mastromonaco is a hilarious woman who deserves her own talk show. I loved reading about a normal woman's journey to the white house, instead of someone with connections and money making it big. It's a nice reminder that at one time the White House wasn't full of scandal.
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I was really excited about reading this book (yes, even though it took me over a year to do so), but I have to admit that I was left disappointed.  I enjoyed Mastromonaco's dry humor and the interesting anecdotes, however the writing seemed a bit scattered and jumped around quite a bit -- a few pages would cover her time in the White House and then all of a sudden readers who thrust into her part-time job during high school.  It was disjointing and difficult to keep attention when I had to keep reminding myself of what time in her life she was talking about.  I greatly respect Mastromonaco and wish I had better things to say about this book.
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Great insight into the Obama administrative and working in the White House.  Funny, enlightening and extremely enjoyable.
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While I enjoyed this memoir, I don't think my students will.
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Interesting to get a woman's insider perspective but I didn't really like the author based on reading this.
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Loved this inside look at the working of the Obama White House. Alyssa Mastromonaco worked for Barack Obama for almost a decade and knows the ins and outs of Washington politics. From her "glamorous trip" to Buckingham Palace (she didn't know she'd be meeting the Queen and was wearing jeans) t  grinding out 16 hours days in the West Wing, the author paints a vivid picture of life in the White House.
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This book should be required reading for all young women before starting their careers.  The advice the author gives, such as how powerful your words can be, is timeless.  I enjoyed her antidotes, as well.  However, her writing about her relationship with her cat was what really got me.  I have several furbabies and could relate so much to this relationship.  Read this, you will not regret it!
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I loved this book.... but it made me miss President Obama even more. It was great to get the behind-the-scenes look at his life as a Senator and his presidential campaign. It is written with more humor than insight, but it also includes a memorable story about access to tampons in the White House.
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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
From the publisher - 
If your funny older sister were the former deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, her behind-the-scenes political memoir would look something like this... 
Alyssa Mastromonaco worked for Barack Obama for almost a decade, and long before his run for president. From the then-senator's early days in Congress to his years in the Oval Office, she made Hope and Change happen through blood, sweat, tears, and lots of briefing binders.
But for every historic occasion-meeting the queen at Buckingham Palace, bursting in on secret climate talks, or nailing a campaign speech in a hailstorm-there were dozens of less-than-perfect moments when it was up to Alyssa to save the day. Like the time she learned the hard way that there aren't nearly enough bathrooms at the Vatican.. Here Alyssa shares the strategies that made her successful in politics and beyond, including the importance of confidence, the value of not being a jerk, and why ultimately everything comes down to hard work (and always carrying a spare tampon)

Young people these days tend to not have the concept of what working at and for a CAREER  really is - they should read this book. Most careers cannot revolve around taking 46 selfies which were also posted on social media over the course of three hours  (I actually counted that number of poses taken by a college student who I was working beside but not supervising one afternoon ... she had no idea I was her monitor, for a good reason it seems!)

I found this book to be "easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy" to read. and laugh out loud funny at times as we follow her ups and downs of working for a senator who became president. She is self-effacing and not full of herself over the job she had at the White House and I like that in an American politician!  

Great book!
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This was a highly entertaining memoir. It did feel a little light at times, in terms of the behind the scenes political strategising and insights into Obama, but as a Guardian review I read noted, Mastromonaco hasn’t ruled out returning to politics – so you can’t go burning all your bridges and divulging things which should rather stay hidden.

The book isn’t written chronologically, but rather organised into chapters focusing on a particular theme or lesson she learnt along the way. And this works for me, since following a format from cradle to grave can very often bore me.

Essentially, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? is part insight into Alyssa and her career, anecdotes from her time in politics, particularly her time spent in the White House, as well as some humorous commentary and pieces of career advice for young women (Advice, which quite frankly, boils down to persevere, work hard, and stand up for yourself.) Although this did resonate with me:

Forward motion is always better than no motion – even if you don’t think it’s taking you in the direction you wanted to go.

Due to all the above elements included, I wouldn’t classify this as a hardcore political memoir, but it does seem that there is a dearth of contributions from women in this subgenre. (Probably due to a dearth of female politicians/strategists in what still seems to be an old boys club in many countries.) And like I mentioned, I really enjoyed reading this book. Mastromonaco has an approachable style, and it was incredibly interesting reading about her experiences, the people she met and the problems she had to solve.

I also like the fact that she is matter of fact about her achievements. She doesn’t boast, but she doesn’t overplay them. She worked hard to get where she did. And I think it’s something many of us struggle with – the balance between being proud without being conceited.

Finally, something that stood out for me was her openness about her struggles with IBS. As a fellow-sufferer, I was clenching my gut in sympathy reading about her digestive near-misses. Seriously, it feels like digestive issues are the final frontier of health issues we need to stop shying away from discussing in public.

By this point in my career at the White House, most of the senior staff knew about my IBS; I once had to have Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security advisor, watch the bathroom door for me at Hamid Karzai’s palace while two Afghan guards played cards and smoked on the other side of it. This kind of thing really breaks down barriers with people. When you tell someone, “Here’s the thing: I might have to shit on this helicopter,” and they don’t shun you afterward, you have a friend for life.

***

Free copy received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.
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I wasn't too sure at first - Mastromonaco's voice took a while to win me over but after a while I was hooked and reading about a woman in such a powerful role but being human was brilliant.
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I really enjoyed Alyssa's voice and I think that she definitely had some gems from her time in the White House. But this book was alllll over the map and it brought the reading experience down considerably. I didn't necessarily object to her giving career advice but it was haphazardly placed and not any more illuminating than the many career books that have come before this. And even though she mentioned that she didn't want the book to be chronological it would have benefited from that greatly considering this is a political memoir. When you're dealing with elections and Obama is a senator, presidential hopeful, first term president and second term president all in the same book and it keeps shifting from one to the other out of order, things can get confusing. Overall we needed more anecdotes from the WH, and more about the government and politics.
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