Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Book Report: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White HouseFire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wolff writes a political insider book with the allure and panache of a novelist, with far more in common with F. Scott Fitzgerald than Bob Woodward. Wolff not only soaks up tons of juicy fly-on-the-wall sights and sounds, he insightfully breaks down the motivations and thought processes of all the players.

The Trump White House is portrayed as a lawless wasteland in which family members, bewildered establishment pols and pushy hangers-on all jockey to curry the favor of the unstable king. There are shades of "Game of Thrones" throughout, with the Trumps forging their power on the realm as the Varys-like Steve Bannon scurries in the shadows, attempting to twist and bend those around him to his complicated, if true-hearted, will.

There are a flood of negative characterizations, but nothing here anyone wouldn't have assumed went on. What emerges in a stark but fair portrayal is the humanity of the Trumpites -- accidental politicians who have crystallized as caricatures in the public view.

Trump comes off not as a racist -- he just wants racists to like him in the way he yearns for everyone to adore him -- and is in no way organized enough to have served as a puppeter of Russian electoral tampering. He baffles those around him just as he does the electorate, standing as a Learish figure scrambling to maintain slipping control of the house of cards surrounding him. Wolff paints him as a sympathetic oaf rather than a nefarious despot.

This book is not likely to be matched by any future White House insider, because no one with the access Wolff was able to land here will likely match his talent. A shimmering gem, "Fire and Fury" is executed with passion, flair and shrewd analysis.

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