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Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House Hardcover – January 5, 2018
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#1 New York Times Bestseller
With extraordinary access to the West Wing, Michael Wolff reveals what happened behind-the-scenes in the first nine months of the most controversial presidency of our time in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
Since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the country―and the world―has witnessed a stormy, outrageous, and absolutely mesmerizing presidential term that reflects the volatility and fierceness of the man elected Commander-in-Chief.
This riveting and explosive account of Trump’s administration provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office, including:
-- What President Trump’s staff really thinks of him
-- What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
-- Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
-- Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn’t be in the same room
-- Who is really directing the Trump administration’s strategy in the wake of Bannon’s firing
-- What the secret to communicating with Trump is
-- What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers
Never before in history has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.
“Essential reading.”―Michael D’Antonio, author of Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success, CNN.com
“Not since Harry Potter has a new book caught fire in this way…[Fire and Fury] is indeed a significant achievement, which deserves much of the attention it has received.”―The Economist
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#1 New York Times Bestseller
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Guardian, Kirkus Reviews, The Sunday Times, The Observer, and Financial Times
"What makes Fire and Fury important is that it is not just about Trump, but a product of the same culture that produced Trump: It is 'reality' journalism, in the same way that Trump is a 'reality' character." ―The Atlantic
"It is not a book. It is the book. If there is only one book Washington political reporters will read this year...then this is it.... [Wolff] is a wicked stylist and keen observer, with a justly earned reputation for approaching his subjects with fangs bared and talons sharpened.... A perfect karmic delivery system."―The Weekly Standard
"The pages of Wolff’s book are littered with insults and intrigue, backstabbing and dysfunction."―The Washington Post
"To the many ironies of Donald Trump’s presidency can be added the fact that a man who does not read books has helped cause a publishing sensation.... Mr Wolff’s muckraking skills, cattiness, cynicism and feel for human weakness, especially among the rich and famous, make him well-qualified for the job."―The Economist
"An undeniably juicy chronicle of a presidential administration that in just one year has been beset by numerous scandals and crises.... [Wolff] gives the reader a you-are-there sense of events without resorting to an unneeded dramatic writing style." ―The San Francisco Chronicle
"Wolff’s lasting achievement here is not his headline-grabbing revelations but the skillful, enthralling, and utterly terrifying way he depicts the unqualified, unprepared, and downright unusual characters to be found wandering the halls of the White House in the first half of 2017 as well as their near bloodsport-level conflicts." ―Entertainment Weekly
"What makes the book significant is its sly, hilarious portrait of a hollow man, into the black hole of whose needy, greedy ego the whole world has virtually vanished."―The Guardian
"The White House has naturally denied and decried Wolff's account, but even if it's only halfway accurate, it presents an appalling view of a frighteningly unqualified and unprepared gang that can't think straight."―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
- Publisher : Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition (January 5, 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 321 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250158060
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250158062
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.45 x 1.12 x 9.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #73,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on January 8, 2019
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Top reviews from the United States
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Nothing in this book will surprise anyone who has been following the trials and tribulations of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. His supporters will cry foul, and say some of it isn't true -- and some of it might not be -- but if even 10% of what is in this book is true, holy crap!
Reading this book is like being forced to eat an entire 5 gallon carton of ice cream in one sitting. It is yummy and you don't want to stop. And then you do want to stop but you can't, because the book has you roped in. You should feel good, but in reality you feel awful, because of what you just did to yourself.
So tread lightly, dear reader. You won't want to put the book down, but you won't be better off for reading it, either. If you don't like it, do something productive -- stop eating the ice cream and get off the couch. Make America AMERICA again!
He points out, “Almost all the professionals who were now set to join him were coming face to face with the fact that it appeared he knew nothing. There was simply no subject, other than perhaps building construction, that he had substantially mastered. Everything with him was off the cuff. Whatever he knew he seemed to have learned an hour before---and that was mostly half-baked. But each new member of the Trump team was convincing him- or herself otherwise---because … the man had been elected president… while everybody … knew about his wide-ranging ignorance… they yet found him somehow INSTINCTIVE… he was a force of personality. He could make you believe.” (Pg. 22)
He notes, “The Trump campaign had built its central strategy around great rallies… For the Trump team, this unmediated connection… was revelatory, and new, personal, and inspirational politics… the problem was that it often---in fact regularly---produced assertions that were not remotely true. This had led increasingly to the two-different-realities theory of Trump politics. In the one reality, which encompassed most of Trump’s supporters, his nature was understood and appreciated… In the other reality, in which resided most of his antagonists, his virtues were grievous if not mental and criminal flaws. In this reality lived the media, which… believed it could diminish him and wound him … and rob him of all credibility by relentlessly pointing out how literally wrong he was.” (Pg. 46) He adds, “the frequently asked question about whether Trump would continue his unsupervised and inexplicable tweets now that he was… the president of the United States… was answered: he would. This was his fundamental innovation in governing: regular, uncontrolled bursts of anger and spleen.” (Pg. 48)
He says, “In the White House view, this was Trump as his best. He was most at home around people he respected… who seemed to respect him, too. This became a staff goal---to create situations in which he was comfortable, to construct something of a bubble, to wall him off from a mean-spirited world… Trump was often his own stage manager at these events, directing people in and out of the picture.” (Pg. 89)
He observes, “Here was, arguably, the central issue of the Trump presidency.. he didn’t process information in any conventional sense---or, in a way, he didn’t process it at all. Trump didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. If it was print, it might as well not exist. Some believed that for all general purposes he was no more than semiliterate… Some thought him dyslexic… Others concluded that he didn’t read because he just didn’t have to… He was postliterate---total television. But not only didn’t he read, he didn’t listen. He preferred to be the person talking. And he trusted his own expertise… more than anyone else’s. What’s more, he had an extremely short attention span, even when he thought you were worthy of attention.” (Pg. 113-114)
He states, “After the attorney general’s [Jeff Sessions] recusal [about Mueller probe], the president, whose instinctive reaction to every problem was to fire someone, right away, thought he should just get rid of Sessions. At the same time, there was little doubt in his mind about what was happening here. He knew where this Russia stuff was coming from, and if these Obama people thought they were going to get away with it they had another think coming. He would expose them all!” (Pg. 156)
Of Trump’s accusations of Obama wiretapping Trump Tower, “This was pure public exclamation… it seemed kooky and farcical… the wiretap tweets had pulled [Trump] highest and most left him dangling in ignorance and embarrassment… But in the end, this was another… example of how difficult it was for the president to function in a literal, definitional, lawyerly, cause-and-effect political world.” (Pg. 159-160)
Of former FBI director James Comey, Wolff explains, “Trump… believed that Comey admired HIS banter and game… The president was all but certain that Comey, understanding that [Trump] had his back (i.e., had let him keep his job), would have Trump’s back, too. But now this testimony [before the House Intelligence Committee on March 20]… health care, a no-fun issue… palled before the clarity of Comey, and the fury, enmity, and bitterness Trump… now bore him… Taking Comey down was the obvious solution. Getting Comey became the mission.” (Pg. 169-170)
He notes, “the president’s views of foreign policy and the world at large were among its most random, uninformed, and seemingly capricious aspects. His advisers didn’t know whether he was an isolationist or a militarist, or whether he could distinguish between the two. He was enamored with generals… but he hated to be told what to do… He had little to no experience in foreign policy, but he had no respect for the experts, either.” (Pg. 184)
He points out, “While Trump was in most ways a conventional misogynist, in the workplace he was much closer to women than to men. The former he confided in, the latter he held at arm’s length. He liked and needed his office wives, and he trusted them with his most important personal issues. Women, according to Trump, were simply more loyal and trustworthy than men. Men… [were] most likely to have their own agenda. Women, by … Trump’s version of their nature, were more likely to focus their purpose on a man. A man like Trump.” (Pg. 200)
He recounts, “Not only had the decision [to fire FBI director James Comey] been made by the president with almost no consultation except that of his inner family circle… [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein and Session’s parallel rationale for the firing was shoehorned in at the last minute, at which point, at [son-in-law Jared] Kushner’s direction, the initial explanation of Comey’s firing became that the president had acted solely on their recommendation… But this pretense unraveled almost immediately, not least because most everyone in the West Wing, wanting nothing to do with the decision to fire Comey, was helping to unravel it… But the president seemed also to want it known that he, aroused and dangerous, personally took down Comey… it WAS personal.” (Pg. 217-218) He adds, “in the instance of Comey and Mueller… there really wasn’t anybody, other than the president’s family, who didn’t very pointedly blame Trump himself… Nobody now believed that firing Comey was a good idea; even the president seemed sheepish.” (Pg. 232-233)
He notes, “everybody believed that if the [Mueller] investigation moved into the long chain of Trump financial transactions, it would almost certainly reach the Trump family and the Trump White House. And then there was the president’s insistent claim that he could do something. ‘I can fire him,’ [Trump] would say… The idea of a showdown in which the stronger, more determined, more intransigent, more damn-the-consequences man prevails was central to Trump’s own personal mythology. He lived in a mano a mano world… And if you made it personal, if you believed that when the fight [became]… kill or be killed, you were unlikely to meet someone willing to make it as personal as you were. This was [Chief Strategist Stephen] Bannon’s fundamental insight about Trump: he made EVERYTHING personal, and he was helpless not to.” (Pg. 241)
He summarizes, “The fundamental premise of nearly everybody who joined the Trump White House was, ‘This can work. We can help make this work.’ Now, only three-quarters of the way through just the first year of Trump’s term, there was literally not one member of the senior staff who could any longer be confident of that premise… most members of the senior staff believed that the sold upside of being part of the Trump White House was to help prevent worse from happening.” (Pg. 304)
This is a fascinating, controversial, and illuminating “inside” portrait of the Trump presidency, that will be of great interest to those wanting such information.
“Fire and Fury” is a gossipy insightful look into the unstable Trump White House. Best-selling author, Michael Wolff takes the reader inside the White House and with extraordinary access provides an eye-opening expose. This revealing 328-page book includes the following twenty-two chapters: 1. Election Day, 2. Trump Tower, 3. Day One, 4. Bannon, 5. Jarvanka, 6. At Home, 7. Russia, 8. Org Chart, 9. CPAC, 10. Goldman, 11. Wiretap, 12. Repeal and Replace, 13. Bannon Agonistes, 14. Situation Room, 15. Media, 16. Comey, 17. Abroad and at Home, 18. Bannon Redux, 19. Mika Who?, 20. McMaster and Scaramucci, 21. Bannon and Scaramucci, and 22. General Kelly.
1. As interesting a book as you will find. A page turner.
2. In the Author’s Note, Wolff describes his methodology and in some instances acknowledges that some accounts are in conflict and lets you the reader be the judge.
3. The book is easy to follow as Wolff engages the reader with interesting stories and characters. Who knew we had a reality TV soap opera in the White House?
4. In spite of all that the press has leaked on the book, it is still worth reading.
5. This book is a gossip wonder fest, everybody has an opinion on everybody and it’s out in the open for you to read. “In Ivanka and Jared’s view, Conway was a cussed, antagonistic, self-dramatizing cable head, and Powell, they hoped, would be a deliberate, circumspect, adult guest on the Sunday morning shows.”
6. Interesting insights throughout. “As the campaign came to an end, Trump himself was sanguine. He had survived the release of the Billy Bush tape when, in the uproar that followed, the RNC had had the gall to pressure him to quit the race.”
7. Trump’s traits are here for the world to view. “Early in the campaign, in a Producers-worthy scene, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate: “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.””
8. Get your soap out; it’s going to be a dirty ride. “Trump liked to say that one of the things that made life worth living was getting your friends’ wives into bed.”
9. Trump the president. “He had somehow won the race for president, but his brain seemed incapable of performing what would be essential tasks in his new job. He had no ability to plan and organize and pay attention and switch focus; he had never been able to tailor his behavior to what the goals at hand reasonably required. On the most basic level, he simply could not link cause and effect.”
10. Bannon’s views are the backbone of this book. Here is his philosophy. “Bannon’s strategic view of government was shock and awe. Dominate rather than negotiate. Having daydreamed his way into ultimate bureaucratic power, he did not want to see himself as a bureaucrat. He was of a higher purpose and moral order. He was an avenger. He was also, he believed, a straight shooter. There was a moral order in aligning language and action—if you said you were going to do something, you do it.”
11. The greatest asset of Trump the candidate. “The Apprentice, and embracing a theory that would serve him well during his presidential campaign: in flyover country, there is no greater asset than celebrity. To be famous is to be loved—or at least fawned over.”
12. Trumpism. “He is uncomfortable when the men around him are not wearing suit and ties. Formality and convention—before he became president, almost everybody without high celebrity or a billion dollars called him “Mr. Trump”—are a central part of his identity. Casualness is the enemy of pretense. And his pretense was that the Trump brand stood for power, wealth, arrival.” Bonus, “But not only didn’t he read, he didn’t listen. He preferred to be the person talking. And he trusted his own expertise—no matter how paltry or irrelevant—more than anyone else’s. What’s more, he had an extremely short attention span, even when he thought you were worthy of attention.”
13. The Russians! “On January 6, 2017—nearly six months to the day after Foer’s piece was published—the CIA, FBI, and NSA announced their joint conclusion that “Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.””
14. Clever observations included. “It is an anomaly of Republican politics that young people motivated to work in the public sector find themselves working to limit the public sector.”
15. The three forces in the White House exposed. “Bannon was the alt-right militant. Kushner was the New York Democrat. And Priebus was the establishment Republican. “Steve wants to force a million people out of the country and repeal the nation’s health law and lay on a bunch of tariffs that will completely decimate how we trade, and Jared wants to deal with human trafficking and protecting Planned Parenthood.” And Priebus wanted Donald Trump to be another kind of Republican altogether.”
16. Jarvanka, better known as Jared and Ivanka. “What’s more, the success of the speech confirmed the Jared and Ivanka strategy: look for common ground. It also confirmed Ivanka’s understanding of her father: he just wanted to be loved.”
17. Wolff describes all the players in Trump’s world and their roles. “Hicks remained his closest and most trusted aide, with, perhaps, the single most important job in this White House: interpreting the media for him in the most positive way it could be interpreted, and buffering him from the media that could not be positively spun.”
18. Controversial and troublesome insights. “Shortly after Lewandowski, with whom Hicks had an on-and-off romantic relationship, was fired in June 2016 for clashing with Trump family members, Hicks sat in Trump Tower with Trump and his sons, worrying about Lewandowski’s treatment in the press and wondering aloud how she might help him. Trump, who otherwise seemed to treat Hicks in a protective and even paternal way, looked up and said, “Why? You’ve already done enough for him. You’re the best piece of tail he’ll ever have,” sending Hicks running from the room.”
19. Fake news! “All news was manipulated and designed, planned and planted. All news was to some extent fake—he understood that very well, because he himself had faked it so many times in his career. This was why he had so naturally cottoned to the “fake news” label. “I’ve made stuff up forever, and they always print it,” he bragged.”
20. The Comey fiasco explained. “On May 17, twelve days after FBI director Comey was fired, without consulting the White House or the attorney general, Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller to oversee the investigation of Trump’s, his campaign’s, and his staff’s ties to Russia. If Michael Flynn had recently become the most powerful man in Washington for what he might reveal about the president, now Mueller arguably assumed that position because he had the power to make Flynn, and all other assorted Trump cronies and flunkies, squeal.”
21. The Trump doctrine. “In practice, the new foreign policy, an effective Trump doctrine, was to reduce the board to three elements: powers we can work with, powers we cannot work with, and those without enough power whom we can functionally disregard or sacrifice.”
22. Was there obstruction of justice? “The point could hardly have been clearer: if the president was pressuring the director because he feared that an investigation of Michael Flynn would damage him, then this was an obstruction of justice.”
23. Interesting insights that are in play right now. “In fact, said, Bannon, eyes rolling and mouth agape, it was the Jarvanka idea to try to trade off amnesty for the border wall.”
24. The military firewall. “Roger Stone, one of those people whose calls Kelly was now shielding the president from, spread the dark scenario that Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly had agreed that no military action would ever be taken unless the three were in accord—and that at least one of them would always remain in Washington if the others were away.”
25. In short, what do they have in common? “In the wake of the immolating news conference, all eyes were suddenly on Kelly—this was his baptism of Trump fire. Spicer, Priebus, Cohn, Powell, Bannon, Tillerson, Mattis, Mnuchin—virtually the entire senior staff and cabinet of the Trump presidency, past and present, had traveled through the stages of adventure, challenge, frustration, battle, self-justification, and doubt, before finally having to confront the very real likelihood that the president they worked for—whose presidency they bore some official responsibility for—didn’t have the wherewithal to adequately function in his job.”
1. No references, nor links to speak of.
2. A glossary of the players with short bios would have been helpful.
3. Lack of supplementary material like charts, graphs, photos or tables.
4. No formal bibliography.
5. How much of this is factual? It’s hard to tell but it seems that the author is willing to back up his claims with recordings.
6. Trump fans will be disappointed, that may actually be a positive.
In summary, let’s face it, this book is like a car wreck, you just can’t take your eyes off of it. Even if you don’t like politics this is just one of those books that are guaranteed to entertain. The biggest shortcoming of the book is the lack of supplementary material and the fact that most of the book is hearsay though I presume that some can be backed by recordings and confirming testimony. That said, this is worth reading based on entertainment value and its implications.
Further suggestions that will help you get acquainted with their views: “Devil’s Bargain” by Joshua Green, “Collusion” by Luke Harding, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” by Bandy X. Lee, “Unbelievable” by Katy Tur, “What Happened” Hillary Rodham Clinton, “The Plot to Hack America” by Malcolm Nance, and “The Making of Donald Trump” by David Cay Johnston.
Top reviews from other countries
His instinctive and emotional response to situations often matched those of the casual observer who possibly assumed that behind this there was some additional intelligence that would make it work.
The resulting presidency, according to this account, is somewhat different to the assumptions of those who voted for him.
The account is well written and insightful. There were many people involved both in the Trump election and administration, however many of the names were new to me so at times I got muddled about who was who, but that is my weakness and not the fault of the author.
I feel, in the end, that I know Trump better. He might achieve some things but I will watch this presidency from afar and with interest.
Paradoxically, Steve Bannon however comes out of this book as on occasion the voice of reason and restraint. Scary stuff.
I would have given 5 stars had it not been for two issues, very poor editing onto kindle and the presumption of the author that everybody reading will know who the minor players are.