Cover Image: From the Corner of the Oval

From the Corner of the Oval

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Pitched as "The West Wing" meets "The Devil Wears Prada," this memoir by one of President Obama's stenographers was a truly unique insider's look at life in the White House during the Obama presidency. Beck Dorey-Stein was a former English teacher in DC looking for a job when she came across the Craig's List ad that ended up changing her definition of what "normal" would look like for the next five years. As a member of the team recording and documenting the President's public words, Beck flew on Air Force One, was in the presence of world leaders, and had a front-row seat to history in the making. Her personal life, however, was in complete and utter shambles as she continually made choices that made me want to shake her by the shoulders sometimes. Yet she shares it all, and for that, I praise her honesty even if those parts of the narrative had a tendency to be a bit repetitive and tedious. A must buy for public library collections!
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From the Corner of the Oval is a funny, informative, and eminently relatable memoir. Beck Dorey-Stein, White House stenographer, does a job most of us never see and have never heard about. She takes us behind the scenes in the Oval, on Air Force One, and even in the West Exec Parking Lot. As she navigates her job and sidelines her writing, she falls for a bad boy who seems perfect, if only to her. She takes us inside that relationship, or her part of it, as well, with brutal truth. Especially today, when so many of us are still reeling from the shift to Trump after President Obama, this book is a public service, an entertaining read, and a voice from out there telling those of us who are shaking our heads so hard they might soon fall off that we are not alone.
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Well, this is certainly a dishy and fun memoir. It’s about one of President Barack Obama’s stenographers. Beck has been out of work for a few months when she responds to an ad on Craigslist (of all places!) and gets called on an interview. The job listing makes no mention of where she’ll be working, just that she’s got to be a good typist. And she is one and so she easily gets the job. She flies through her background check because she had previously worked at Sidwell Friends School (and even bumped into one of the Obama girls by accident at one point). A great summer read!
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Memoirs can be hit or miss, and this one is a hit. Through this well-written book, I learned about Obama's' stenography team and their interactions, as well as their personal lives. Best part of the book - perhaps the epilogue.
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From the Corner of the Oval had the potential to be a fantastic book.  It is a great coming of age book that women especially can enjoy.  You have the learning more about oneself, struggling with male relationships and figuring out how to balance work and a social life especially in a very demanding job.  It is an inside look from the bubble the surrounds the President.  Not only an insiders view of what traveling with the President is like but also a unique perspective of real events that happened.  The writing is engaging and draws you in.  All the makings of an enjoyable read and as long as you share the author's views on Republicans it is.  The author, while claiming to not be political, does not hold Republicans in high regard and makes that clear.  Other then that it is clearly an enjoyable read.
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The setting was the best part of this book. From an insider's look at the White House, Air Force One and all the duties of the President of the United States was definitely a great learning experience. The personal life of this character however was frustrating to say the least. Poor choices, cheating, language, etc put me off on this one.
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When I started reading this book, I wondered if I would make it all the way through. The protagonist was so immature, drank way too much, lied, cursed a blue streak, cheated on her very nice boyfriend with a man who was not only a work colleague but was also cheating on his girlfriend. But I found myself reading on and on until I was entirely hooked. She was very brave to show her lowest self in a memoir. Her complicated personal life was as big a part of this book as her experiences of working as a stenographer for Obama for five years. She spent time in the Oval office, the White Press room, Air Force One and just about anywhere that the President traveled. Very few people will ever experience such a close up view of history in the making. Eventually I found myself devouring the book and finished in a couple of days. It is a great summer read.
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The title of this book entrigued me enough to want to read it.  It about a White House stenographer during the second term of President Obama.  It’s both interesting, and maddening at the same time.  The travels, and wonderful experiences are fun to read, and gives you insight to how things are done.  Where the book falls apart, is in the telling of her personal life.  She is a bright young woman who consistently wants a man who is clearly using her.  It made me cringe when she would repeat the same behaviors over and over, and in doing so lost her self.  
Thank,you to NetGalley and a Random House for the advanced copy.  I would read another one of her books, as a first one,  it was pretty good.
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I love behind-the-scenes stuff and am a bit of a political junkie, so this was perfect for me. A little too much of the inappropriate boyfriends (Beck makes the wrong choices over and OVER again, which gets hard). But a fun enjoyable read!
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This from the inside look at the White House is such an interesting read. I felt like I was part of the staff at the White House and a young, professional person in DC. I must admit I tired of Ms. Dorey-Stein's romance woes, but it is a memoir.
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This book is not recommended for Trump supporters, anti Obama voters, or anyone who hates Sex in the City. There are a lot of night outs, a lot of drinking and hooking up. The author is young and this is certainly a good chunk of a coming of age story as the author figures out who she is, who her friends are, and what she wants to do next. Just that she's doing that while working for the President, shadowing him and recording everything he says. The book is about the work but also the travels, the friendships and her love life. I did enjoy her insider opinion on the trips President Obama took to Cuba, Japan, Newtown, etc. She is pretty honest in this book, even about her love life and the tangled mess it was - I did want to smack her upside the head about that one a bunch of times. It's an interesting perspective, one that I haven't typically heard of - that of a low level staffer in the White House world. As she says towards the end of the book, "We are lucky but we are nothing special. It's a privilege and an honor and a job. Don't trust anyone who tells you otherwise."
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I really wanted to like this book. Beck Dorey-Stein stumbled into a position as a stenographer for President Obama, partly because of dumb luck and partly because the lady who interviewed her recognized her current place of employment at Sascha and Malia's school and figured she came with a security clearance. She spent the rest of his presidency traveling the world at President Obama's side, observing history in the making. 

I think I would have enjoyed hearing more about her experience behind the scenes of the presidency and less about the her poor life choices and repeated failure to learn from her mistakes. She spends YEARS cheating on her nice enough boyfriend with a coworker 10 years her senior who makes it obvious to all that he views her as a plaything and nothing more. They hook up. They break up.  They hook up again. Boyfriend moves away. She finds a new boyfriend. She hooks up with her work guy some more. She finds out he's cheating on his girlfriend with multiple coworkers, not just her. She tells herself she's sleeping with him on her terms, so it's fine. She gets dumped by other boyfriend. Blah, blah, blah. It was as boring as it sounds. I feel sorry for her friends who had to live through that drama in real time, if she spent as much time venting to them as she did writing about it. 

Everyone does stupid shit in their twenties, yes, and it can be comforting to read other's stories to remind yourself you're not alone. However, I recommend skipping this and reading "Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?" by Alyssa Mastromonaco instead. Another memoir by a former White House staffer under Obama, Mastromonaco's book felt reflective and uplifting and I came away from that feeling like I learned a few things.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  While I'm not particularly interested in politics, I found this peek behind the curtain fascinating.  What an incredible journey for the author, then in her twenties, traveling with President Obama and the rest of his senior staff on Air Force 1.  Exotic locales, the best hotels and palaces, and the most luxurious jet, by far.  I had no idea of the culture on the plane, and how close Obama was with his staff.  I would have loved just one trip on AF1 with the then POTUS.
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Beck Dorsey-Stein and her friends were right: she can write. Her writing kept me racing through the book even when it failed to satisfy. From the Corner of the Oval tells two stories. The first, an insider’s look at the Obama administration is fascinating, all the more so because it confirms my impressions and reinforces my opinions of Obama as POTUS.  This is the real strength of the book and I wish there had been even more of it.  The second story, that of Beck’s personal struggles with boyfriends, friendships and the other stuff of life is much less satisfying. She paints a picture of a woman in her late twenties who still does not understand herself or have much control over the choices she makes. The perks of the job, the glamour of rising on Air Force One, rise above the job itself, which not very intellectually challenging has nonetheless put Dorsey-Stein in the central pulse of the country. It’s only towards the end of the book that she reveals as asides that she has sought professional counseling and has applied to graduate writing programs. A bit more real introspection and a lot less focus on drinking and her choices of lovers would have earned the book more stars from me.
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This book is the perfect blend of political insider memoir meets Sex in the City. It is a fantastic look at the inner workings of the Obama administration without a boring bit to be found. Beck (yes, I feel we are on a first name basis after she spilled her emotional guts to me about Sam, Charlie, and Jason) is a very good writer and I spent several late nights turning pages to see what adventure she was going on next. More, please!
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A behind the scenes look at the life of those who support the people who are running our country. I really enjoyed reading about the daily schedules and also the travel involved with this sort of position. There were glamour filled moments but they were overshadowed by the place of life in the White House. This is definitely an interesting story and it doesn't matter what your political outlook is!
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Are you still feeling nostalgic about the Obama presidency? This book is best enjoyed by people who miss having a president that had charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. It gets a little soppy in the middle as the personal affairs become more prominent than the author's business affairs, but overall it is an impassioned book about a person who spent quality time as part of the Obama administration without being defined by their job.
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I’m not someone who is into politics and wasn’t sure what I’d think of someone’s memoirs working as a stenographer in the Obama White House. I adored this book  Not just the writing - which is amazing - but the look at a job you’d think technology would have rendered obsolete a decade ago. 

Beck has a fabulous voice and this reads like a novel, you’re sucked into the stories and the people. I like too how it was slightly meta: she was talking about her writing in her writing. Especially loved Team Pathahad. 

My only quibbble, outside her core folks: Noah, Teddy, Jason, Shilpa, Amelia and Tess she’d sometimes bring back people who we hadn’t heard of. A refresher on who they were might have helped. I’m not sure we’d met Feriano before his appearance when Beck gave POTUS a birthday card. I also found myself with some unanswered questions: who was the father of Amelia’s baby, why was Beck unaware that it was her last day at the White House? Maybe a little less Jason drama would have freed up some time for those. 

This was also a really interesting look inside a presidential administration and the nuts and bolts of traveling: both on campaign and during his term. Who knew there was so much down time on some of the trips, or that the press bubble essentially went on holiday with them?

Wonderful read.
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I think my quibble with this book was far more with the way it is being marketed, or positioned, than with the memoir itself.  Ms. Dorey-Stein's book felt more like a coming-of-age story to me than a White House memoir.
It may well be my age, or experience level, but I read it as a personal struggle for emotional and professional maturity more than a political memoir. And, after wading through her rather repetitive series of disappointing relationships with lovers, she didn't grow emotionally, so why did I spend a few hours with this book ?

IF she had been a stenographer in a Fortune 500 company, not the White House, certainly there would be no memoir. (And, yes, I think most businesses are tech savvy enough that stenographers are akin to Stegasauruses).

I don't want to be harsh, but I found the book pointless. I have a genuine interest in reading about the inner workings of The White House, but this did not enlighten me.  Perhaps another under-employed young professional would easily identify with both the career choice and the personal choices that the author made and be inspired by her journey in some way.  I was not. Nor was I impressed by her writing.
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An interesting look at the inside world of a Whitehouse stenographer during the Obama administration. Written in an easy and approachable manner, full of funny hijinks and love affairs, From the Corner of the Oval felt more like a chick-lit novel than a memoir. I only wished it had more politics and less sex, but that seems to be the nature of politics in our present society. Overall, I enjoyed stepping into Beck's world and getting a behind the scenes account of one woman's struggle between work, love, friendship, and finding herself in a fast passed men's world.
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