I was set to finish The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) this weekend, and I will write a post on that later because it more than met my expectations.
However, just as I was looking forward to my weekend of reveling in the greatness of this book – and wow I already miss reading it – something else suddenly came up:
The publication of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House was moved up a few days due to the White House trying to stop the publication of this book. Of course this book was already on my radar, but would I have dropped everything to read it without this new drama surrounding it?? Maybe not….
But I did drop everything and read it (along with half the country). I don’t consider this a political blog, though it’s not difficult to infer where my allegiances lie with my occasional mention of environmental and social justice issues, but please know I tried my best to read and review this book objectively.
The first half of this book was honestly a bit boring for me. The details of political maneuverings are just too detailed for my interest. I think you would have to REALLY be into politics to enjoy much of this book. And if you pay attention at all to what has been going on the past year, most of it would not be surprising at all.
The first interesting section (to me) proposed that the Trump campaign (besides Bannon) and even Trump never expected to win and further, never wanted to win. Again this is not something we have not heard rumblings of but I still found it interesting.
“Almost everybody in the campaign, still an extremely small outfit, thought of themselves as a clear-eyed team, as realistic about their prospects as perhaps any in politics. The unspoken agreement among them: not only would Donald Trump not be president, he should probably not be. Conveniently, the former conviction meant nobody had to deal with the latter issues….
…He would come out of this campaign, Trump assured Ailes, with a far more powerful brand and untold opportunities. ‘This is bigger than I ever dreamed of,’ he told Ailes in a conversation a week before the election. “I don’t think about losing because it isn’t losing. We’ve totally won.” What’s more, he was already laying down his public response to losing the election: It was stolen!
Donald Trump and his tiny brand of campaign warriors were ready to lose with fire and fury. They were not ready to win.”
After that, here are some of the most interesting (to me) tidbits:
- Trump only loaned his campaign $10 million, provided he got it back as soon as they could raise other money.
- Melania was in tears after the election (not of joy).
- A turning point for Trump’s inner circle turning against him was after the Obama “wiretap tweets.”
- The President does not read hardly anything; he doesn’t have the attention span. He listens selectively and usually only when it is about him. It is very difficult for people to get information to him when he will not read anything and thinks he already knows everything.
- He prefers to retire to his room about 6:30pm each night where he watches his 3 TV screens. Then he gets on the phone to various other billionaires (called in this book the billionaires cabinet) to complain about the latest issues and his staff. “Almost everybody in the White House followed Trump’s thinking by tracking whom he had called the night before.”
- Author refers to Jared and Ivanka as “Jarvanka” as one unit.
- Later in the the year his staffers become more concerned he is rambling and repeating even more “(the same sentences delivered with the same expression minutes apart)”
Obviously there is much more in this book, not flattering to the President or the administration. But as I said earlier: none of this is too surprising or new information to someone who has been paying attention. There is play by play of the events leading up to firing Comey, the Virginia protests, and several staff oustings. I admit I skimmed some of the first half of the book. The second part of the book was more interesting to me. Perhaps this is because I didn’t have the ending of The Goldfinch waiting for me, as I went back to that book mid-way through Fire and Fury.
Don’t misunderstand – I loved the drama of pre-ordering this book and reading it along with everyone else. I would do the same again. But do I recommend everyone else go out and buy this book?? Not necessarily – you will probably read the most interesting parts in other sources.
My advice – Save your $15 for something that brings you joy – like The Goldfinch or another great work of literature. On that note: here are my favorite books from 2017.
And I think we all learned that if you don’t want people to read a book, don’t try to stop it’s publication 5 days prior.
A note on Wolff and his sources and credibility: Using over 200 interviews and under the terms of “deep background” as used in other contemporary political books, ultimately he says (in his author’s note) he settled on a version of events he believed to be true. Are there mistakes and untruths in this book. I’m sure there are. However, as it reads summarizing the major political events of 2017 (and much of it is just a compilation of events we all know happened) it seemed mostly believable to me. There were some times I wondered, well how does he know that person said that exactly, but I will leave that to the libel lawyers mentioned at the end and also taking it all as a big picture (which I for the record already had) of the events and missteps of this administration. Do I believe everything in this book, no, but much of it, yes.
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