Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Book Reort: "A Higher Loyalty"

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and LeadershipA Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This did not need to be a full book. The only reason anyone has picked it up was to get to the final third, when the former FBI director, burned over losing his job in brutal, "Apprentice"-style fashion, unleashes on Trump. Comey may lack the detached skill of Michael Wolff's Trump roasting in "Fire and Fury," but his savage attack is just as entertaining.

What's odd is that once Comey gets on a roll, he loses all semblance of the professionalism and rationality and descends into a Trump-like free-association tirade. In transforming into an approximation of the object of his own fire and fury, Comey squanders all the goodwill he has accumulated to that point as he's recounted his career, fashioning himself as a cool, virtuous and impartial leader.

There are some intriguing moments in the rest of the book, but you have to trudge through monotonous recollections of Comey's workdays to get to them. He comes up with some intriguing hot takes on the dysfunctional Bush-Cheney dynamic, as well as the inner workings of Obama's self-assured, almost condescending administration.

But the person Comey most likes writing about -- at least until he shifts his focus to Trump at the end -- is Comey. Some valuable nuggets about corporate responsibility and leadership are buried among his copious self-praise disguised as humility, but there are dozens of business books that weren't rush jobs like this that can give you the same lessons with more skill.

The point of the book is to catapult Comey into the status of MSNBC talk show host, or at least the A-list on the public speaking circuit. In that respect, mission accomplished.

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