To ‘Capitol Hell’ and Back

Posted October 4, 2012 at 12:01am

The Roll Call office receives a lot of books about Congress. But chick lit about the Senate? This must be a first and, we thought, a potential HOH gold mine.

“Capitol Hell” is the tale of the journey of a newly minted Senate aide named Allison Amundson, a self-described “Capitol Hill staffer, complete with hot pink heels.”

The book also features her eccentric co-workers and boss, presidential candidate and new Minnesota GOP Sen. Anders McDermott III — a fictional character who might remind readers of former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). Coleman is a former boss of authors Jayne J. Jones and Alicia M. Long.

Some anecdotes will ring familiar to Hill staffers, young and old. They will also likely bore anyone who has never worked in the Capitol because frankly, the book gets insidery real fast. That’s clear in the first chapter, when Amundson arrives for her first day of work and runs afoul of Capitol Police for trying to enter the staff entrance to the Russell Senate Office Building without ID.

The fictional Senator has an espresso machine for getting hot water for his tea — and knows when it comes from the microwave. Staffers handle his laundry.

The book might provide a few good lessons for the incredibly naive — you really can’t afford plush accommodations on Capitol Hill on a scheduler’s salary, for instance — but when McDermott goes back to Minnesota for the state fair and out onto the Republican presidential primary campaign trail, the book gets all the more preposterous, leading up to the Iowa straw poll.

“Capitol Hell” is worth a good laugh if you have ever worked in Congress, but if you just stumble upon this review on the Internet, you might want to look elsewhere.