Kenneth (kensmind) wrote in bookish,
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Book Review: Fire and Fury-Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

In today's modern climate of intense and angry political polarization, it's easy for the lines between gossip, spin and contemporary political history to get blurred. So is the story of a deeply disorganized and dysfunctional White House told by Vanity Fair contributor Michael Wolff, in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House reality, misdirection from manipulative sources, or the product of a vengeful enemy of the current administration? It's not easy to discern where Wolff is coming from, but his description of the current West Wing, in the words of one of the book's subjects, "makes Shakespeare look like Dr. Seuss".



Wolff tells the story or a Trump White House as divided as the nation itself. On the right there is Steve Bannon and the Breitbart faction. In the middle is Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, representing the GOP establishment, and on the left, the president's daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jarred Kushner (dubbed "Jarvanka" by Bannon, a term adopted by Wolff.) Wolff describes the power struggle between the three factions, and the mercurial president who is at times dismissive and mocking of all sides. He describes the evolution of the disorganized organizational dynamics during the first year of Trump's presidency, including the controversial dismissal of FBI Director James Comey, the investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russians intent on assisting the campaign, and Trump's troubling agitation of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.

Wolff's portrayal of the Trump himself is a deeply troubling portrait of a megalomaniac intent on making sure that no one else gets too much attention or credit, who hates reading, who constantly mocks his staff in front and behind their backs, who chooses the wrong advisors and doesn't take their advice any how, and who has an unrealistic understanding of his constitutional authority.

Wolff's epilogue is especially interesting, containing Bannon's predictions for the future of the Trump presidency (giving his odds for impeachment, resignation or survival), and the future of the alt-right in 2020.

Should you read this book? That depends on where you are on the political spectrum. Trump haters will love this book. Trump supporters will see it as a political hatchet job. If you're looking for objective contemporary history, it's more likely that Wolff is closer to a Kitty Kelly than a Bob Woodward. We live in a time when it's becoming harder and harder to tell what's real and what's "fake news", but Wolff seems to have an impressive array of sources. The book is a product of its times. Those who relish this kind of thing will love it. Those who can do without hearing about Machiavellian political infighting should give it a miss.
Tags: author: w, genre: non-fiction, review, subject: biography, subject: history
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