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The Trump Trilogy #1

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

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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.

322 pages, Hardcover

First published January 5, 2018

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About the author

Michael Wolff

77 books445 followers
Michael Wolff is an American author, essayist, and journalist, and a regular columnist and contributor to USA Today, The Hollywood Reporter, and the UK edition of GQ. He has received two National Magazine Awards, a Mirror Award, and has authored seven books, including Burn Rate (1998) about his own dot-com company, and The Man Who Owns the News (2008), a biography of Rupert Murdoch. He co-founded the news aggregation website Newser and is a former editor of Adweek.

In January 2018, Wolff's book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House was published, containing unflattering descriptions of behavior by U.S. President Donald Trump, chaotic interactions among the White House senior staff, and derogatory comments about the Trump family by former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,050 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews294k followers
January 8, 2018
Spoiler: Donald Trump is incompetent and misogynistic. Surprise!

Well, I couldn’t help myself, could I? This book is causing such a stir that I just had to read it. I can't let that controversial bandwagon just pass me by. Having read it, though, I have to say I'm surprised that it's causing such a stir at all. There's very little here that people don't already know about Trump, Bannon, Kushner and Russia.

I guess maybe I can see the value in putting together an overview of the Trump campaign and presidency, but unfortunately this book is also poorly-written, contains no references, and reads a little bit like, um, fake news. Sorry to say it. What it contains in new material - such as snatches of conversations, and the true feelings of Trump & Co. - is written in an extremely sensationalist, tabloid style, without anything to back it up.

I can understand why even Trump’s toughest critics have had some doubts about this book. Wolff writes things it seems he couldn’t possibly know without explaining why he does, in fact, know them (who overheard that thing that Bannon said? How can he say what Trump is thinking in a particular moment?). I know a lot of it had to be anonymous, but he often expresses the feelings of individuals, even Trump himself, on certain matters without saying how he knows it (not even so much as “an insider told me…”).

There are many hard-working journalists who have written fantastic, well-researched critiques of Trump and his presidency. These articles fill me with such satisfaction because they are a perfect contrast to Trump’s ranting, tweeting nonsense, but Wolff instead prefers to play the Trump game. His book seems written with the intention of being as provocative and antagonistic as possible. It evokes emotions, but adds little to the discussion.

The result is a book that is full of unsubstantiated assertions. Characteristic of our times - and this presidency in particular - the book feels gossipy, based around emotions and talking the loudest, instead of being convincing and analytical, backed up by solid references that we can factcheck.

I am critical of Trump because, among many other things, he constantly says and tweets baseless accusations and theories that are meant to incite a passionate response. But that's exactly what Fire and Fury does, too.

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Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 118 books157k followers
January 29, 2018
This book was hilarious and terrifying and confirmed pretty much everything most of us have suspected about the incompetence of the Trump administration. If even half of this book is true, well, this presidency is a disaster.

The strangest part of this book is Wolf’s unabashed affection for Steve Bannon. Like, dude, get a room.

Also this book is sloppy and needs to be edited.
Author 23 books13 followers
Want to read
January 4, 2018
I never planned on reading this. But now that Donald Trump is trying to prevent its release, it's now the highest priority on my reading list.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,295 reviews120k followers
November 7, 2022

Da-ta da-da-dah-ta da-da-dah-ta da-da-dah-ta
da-da-dah-ta da-da-dah-ta da-da-dah-ta da-da-dah-ta da-da
Daaaa da dadada dah da-dudaaaah
Daaaa da dadada dah dududaaaah
Michael Wolff has given us a drone’s (dragon’s?) eye view of the competing centers vying to be the power behind the throne, with some looking, in the longer term, at carving paths for their own succession to the highest position in the realm. There is a mad king who needs to be handled. Centers of power arise, morph, wage battles both silent and overt, succeed and fail, rise, die, and sometimes rise again. What we see in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Ice Fury, from our lofty perch, is the geography of chaos in the known world of the White House. Games will be played. Backs will be stabbed. Sadly, there is no magic, only sleight of hand. And it remains to be seen if nuclear dragons will be unleashed.

The juicy bits of this book have been everywhere for the last few weeks. It is highly quotable, and the publisher, Holt, the author, their PR people, and the major news outlets have been flooding the zone. Whether on-line or in print, over airwaves on TV or radio, through cable, and probably via the deep-state-news (WDSN?) that beams directly into peoples’ minds, all media have been all agog with the many looks at this elephant to which they have been privy.

With so much blanket coverage coming at you, one might be forgiven for wondering whether you first saw the item you just read in the book, or came across it somewhere else. It is a little bit unnerving. I will spare you the further confusion of adding all those bits here. I really have to put some in, though. I mean you know them already, right? How many synonyms can you find for idiot?

Fire and Fury is the biggest book of the moment, the Wall Street Journal reporting that it had sold a million copies as of Monday, January 8, 2018, a day earlier than its scheduled release. Remains to be seen, of course, with a steady stream of books on Trump being published, how long this frenzy will persist. But the last time I was aware of people standing on line for hours to get a book, it included the words Harry and Potter. This book, in the words of our former vice president, is a big fucking deal.

Michael Wolff - image from Mediaite.com

The bottom line of Fire and Fury is that it presents Donald Trump as unfit to serve as president, based not on the dark view and negative press of his opposition, but the been-there-OMG-did-you-see-that experience of his own staff and supporters.
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.
Wolff uses named and unnamed sources. It seems clear that his primary go-to was one Steve Bannon, a weaver of webs, a bomb-thrower, a snake in the grass, a back-stabber, a manipulator, a white supremacist, a gifted media manipulator, and a pretty bright and articulate, if sartorially challenged guy. One might be tempted to dismiss Wolff’s book based on this reliance. Don’t. There are plenty of other sources feeding the narrative. The question is whether the image Wolff generates by making a composite of the incoming bits makes sense. Is it plausible? Is it correct? Having seen Wolff interviewed on multiple news and entertainment shows, and attending to the back-and-forths between him and knowledgeable news people, it seems eminently clear that he got it right. There are probably some details that err a bit here and there. Maybe this person was not at that meeting, or a date may be off. I expect that the only inaccuracies to be found here will be of that sort. Niggling, beside the point. And blown way out of proportion by those with an interest in distracting you from the core content of the book. That the president attempted to stop its publication should tell you something.
What was, to many of the people who knew Trump well, much more confounding was that he had managed to win this election, and arrive at this ultimate accomplishment, wholly lacking what in some obvious sense must be the main requirement of the job, what neuroscientists would call executive function. 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.
Michael Wolff is a veteran author and journalist, with seven prior books to his credit. He has been nominated for the National Magazine Award three times, and accused by people he has written about of fabricating. The absence of actual lawsuits against him suggests that complaints were less than firmly grounded. He is a serious writer and should be taken seriously. It is a bit mind-boggling the access he had to the actual White House, but he lays it out. He hung out in the WH, with a huge degree of access and was able to get input from the people working or passing through there, for months. Was the administration insane for allowing this? You betcha. But they did, another sign of their unpreparedness.

Inauguration day offered a look at what was to come.
Much of the sixteen-minute speech was part of Bannon’s daily joie de guerre patter—his take-back-the-country America-first, carnage-everywhere vision for the country. But it actually became darker and more forceful when filtered through Trump’s disappointment and delivered with his golf face. The administration purposely began on a tone of menace—a Bannon-driven message to the other side that the country was about to undergo profound change. Trump’s wounded feelings—his sense of being shunned and unloved on the very day he became president—helped send that message. When he came off the podium after delivering his address, he kept repeating, “Nobody will forget this speech.”
George W. Bush, on the dais, supplied what seemed likely to become the historic footnote to the Trump address: “That’s some weird shit.”
As noted above, the geography through which Wolff’s tale travels is one of sundry kingdoms. I could not help but imagine the opening credits of Game of Thrones as we approach each power center, the models for each of the city-states animating, offering moving, 3-D representations of each kingdom’s imagery and motifs. The three (sadly, not seven) are the alt-right of Bannon and his allies (clearly White Walkers), the mainstream GOP crowd epitomized by Reince Preibus, and the family wing, considered by Bannon to be of a liberal-democratic bent, in the person of Jared Kushner and the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, aka Jarvanka. (Cersei and Jamie?).

Swamp Thing as Joffrey Baratheon- image from DesignCrowd.com, by way of Huff-Po

The forward motion of the story is the events of Trump’s campaign, but mostly presidency up to October, 2017. I know, I know. One of the problems with political books is that they can often be outdated in fairly short order. The several months between October and the book’s publication is a lifetime in Trump years. It is impressive, given the daily churning of personnel and events in the DC universe (not the multiverse) these days that any book on Trumplandia still has relevance by the time ink on paper makes its way to readers. And yet, the issues raised here, the main issue, is momentous, and sticks.

Wolff has offered a host of quotes from his sources, many named, that question Swamp Thing’s competence, not just to function as president, but to function as a human being. His own staff frequently mention the applicability of the 25th amendment (although in the real world that is a total fantasy) and the likelihood of impeachment. The sound of Robert Mueller’s approaching steps echoes throughout the work, clearly feeding Trump’s paranoia about being treated unfairly, and boosting his fear of being found out, labeled a squatter or deadbeat, and evicted.
In most White Houses, policy and action flow down, with staff trying to implement what the president wants—or, at the very least, what the chief of staff says the president wants. In the Trump White House, policy making, from the very first instance of Bannon’s immigration EO, [executive order] flowed up. It was a process of suggesting, in throw-it-against-the-wall style, what the president might want, and hoping he might then think that he had thought of this himself (a result that was often helped along with the suggestion that he had in fact already had the thought).
Wolff, with his title, and content, offers a wonderful Game of Thrones image. But there are plenty more that could easily apply. The Producers is one that he mentions, a particularly apt metaphor, given that it seemed clear to many of us, even during the campaign, that Trump, like Bialystock and Bloom, got into the presidential race for the money, and never really intended to win. This is confirmed in the book. Personally, I think Max Bialystock would have made a better president. Another scenario that Wolff mentions is the relationship of Thomas Cromwell to Henry VIII, wonderfully portrayed in the novel Wolf Hall (no relation), with Steve Bannon in the Cromwell role and you-know-who as the guy who made such a gigantic mess, because he simply had to have things his way. One could also consider House of Cards (the original), with all the plotting, back-stabbing, and hunger for power that made that series such fun to watch, although, after Bannon as Francis Urquart, the personnel parallels fade a bit. Alice in Wonderland gives us Trump as the single-minded Queen of Hearts. The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight might offer an image of ineptitude, if one ignores the fact that Trump has overseen the greatest looting by criminals of the national treasury in the nation’s history. For all his intellectual challenges Swamp Thing is a larger than life character with very little core, a made-for-Television president.

Swamp Thing and Bannon as Henry VIII and T. Cromwell - image from NY Magazine

One of the things I most enjoyed was Wolff’s take on The Mooch. Anthony Scaramucci is the sort of Damon Runyon hanger-on one might expect to see in Guys and Dolls, or maybe a Batman flick, all puffery and attitude smeared over a core of ignorance, inflated by cartoonishly excessive self-confidence and corruption. From the description in Fire and Fury, it is not hard to imagine him in a too-wide pin-striped suit, shoulder-padded, sporting excessive pancake makeup, swinging a pocket watch from a chain, and laughing uncontrollably as he kicks some poor shmo that his minions are holding down for him, because he was a few dollars short on his protection payment.

There are some things missing from the book, of course. There is not the sort of detailed biographical material better found in an actual biography. Forget seeing an autobiography. Anything Trump truly wrote would probably be close to an actual choose-your-own-adventure kid book, given his inability to remain focused for more than a few minutes. There is not a lot about serious international threats, with one exception. In a press conference at his Bedminster, NJ property:
“His staff had not prepared him for this, but, in apparent relief that he could digress from the opioid discussion, as well as sudden satisfaction at the opportunity to address this nagging problem, he ventured out, in language that he’d repeated often in private—as he repeated everything often—to the precipice of an international crisis.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with the fire and the fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before. Thank you.”
Thus an increased concern about the danger of someone implementing the launch codes in a fit of pique or confusion. A fair bit of that intercontinental exchange of verbal ordnance occurred after the book was written, most notably the “My Button is bigger than your Button” lunacy. There is little discussion, although it gets a mention, of the potential implications of Trump’s autocratic leanings. The telling of the tale is much more about what has already happened as opposed to what might.
It was during Trump’s early intelligence briefings, held soon after he captured the nomination, that alarm signals first went off among his new campaign staff: he seemed to lack the ability to take in third-party information. Or maybe he lacked the interest; whichever, he seemed almost phobic about having formal demands on his attention. He stonewalled every written page and balked at every explanation. “He’s a guy who really hated school,” said Bannon. “And he’s not going to start liking it now.”
This is not a book about policy. It is portrait of a White House as a theater of political warfare, a candidate who never really wanted or expected to be president and a president who is not only completely out of his depth, but who shows not only no capacity, but no interest in learning to swim. Even the people who work for him see him as unintelligent, narcissistic, incurious, and lazy. They even suggest he is losing his grip on reality, presuming he ever had one. It is certainly entertaining, the bits about Trump’s TV addiction, how he manages to cover his bald pate, and his pettiness about not wanting the cleaning staff to pick up his clothes from the floor. I mean, really, is he ashamed of being seen as a slob? Eating burgers in bed in front of the TV will probably gain him more support than criticism. I mean, even I can get on board with that, and I do not have a kind view of the man. But the more serious element is his mental fitness, and the danger this presents to us all.

image from Wolff’s Twitter feed, citing the Hollywood Reporter

There is zero chance that the Republican Party will allow their sitting president, however damaged or corrupt he is, to be removed from office under the 25th Amendment. The best chance for his leaving office is for him to suffer a serious physical health crisis, which might force him to resign. As an older, overweight, out of shape man, this is not far-fetched. Even with a Democratically controlled Congress in January 2019, there is no guarantee that the Senate would come up with the sixty-seven votes needed to convict. The significance of this is that until Donald John Trump is removed from the presidency, by impeachment, ill-health, death, or being voted out of office in 2020, we are all at risk.

Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury is an air-raid siren warning us all of peril, real and potential. (Wolff Hell?) It is must-read material for every American. When the GOP stands in the way of investigations into the administration, they are supporting a president who is unable to function at the needed level, a president who is uninterested in the details of governance, a president who is not in control of himself, a president who places not only himself, but the nation, and the entire world at risk. You need to know what they are protecting. It doesn’t take a stable genius to know that you should be afraid, very afraid. As Dubyah said, “That’s some weird shit.”

Published – January 9, 2018

Review Posted – January 12, 2018

==========In the summer of 2019 GR reduced the allowable review size by 25%, from 20,000 to 15,000 characters. Then in Summer 2021 they decreed that external links would not longer be allowed in comments, where I used to put the review overage. So I have included the entirety of the review, including EXTRA STUFF, on my site, Coot’s Reviews. Stop by and say Hi!

Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,541 followers
January 12, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

When I initially posted the "review" below (based solely on leaked segments) the day before Fire and Fury was officially released, I had no idea my little bit of nothing would get as much attention as it has. I also didn't really plan on reading the book. But then somehow the library decided it should order SIXTY copies of the thing and I went from 90th on the wait list to it being my turn before even a week was over (many thanks to the patrons who either removed their names from the list or made a point to return the book right away so everyone could get their chance) and there was a snow day so I had no excuse not to dive right in. So what do I think now that I'm finished? Well, I think we elected fucking Fredo to run our great nation . . . .

I stand behind everything I said before. This was indeed simply a "tell-all" as I originally believed and probably contained a "bigly" chunk of tabloid journalism (which surprisingly focused A LOT on the Bannon/Jared & Ivanka relationship). It's convenient that one of the most quoted figures in the book is Roger Ailes who is now dead. But at the end of the day does it really matter which quotes are real or who leaked what when it comes to sort of a "National Enquirer" type of bestseller? Trump said it best when he said the following about his supporters:

"I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."

If nothing else has been confirmed for me since the inauguration (aside from the fact that Trump had the biggest crowd ever in attendance *eye roll*) it is Trump's own quote above and this point that Fire and Fury makes over and over and over again . . . .

"He could not even attempt to imitate decorum."

And THAT is something that no one will ever be able to fix when it comes to this 71-year old man. Let's just hope America wakes up by the next election before Trump turns our country into a "shithole nation." : (


Today our Führer is attempting to prevent this book’s release. People quoted in the book are also coming forth denying they said some of the things attributed to them. If a copy of this (literally) falls into my lap – like from the sky while I’m sitting on a park bench or something – I may read it. As for what has been leaked so far regarding its contents? All I have to say is . . . . .

OF COURSE Trump didn’t think he would win the G.D. election. No one in the universe did. He put his name in the hat as a marketing ploy for his failing brand. Unfortunately for America, no one drinks the Trump Kool-Aid as well as Trump himself so once he was told there was a chance he could win he brainwashed himself into thinking he was qualified for the job.

OF COURSE he sleeps in a different bedroom than Melania. Melania had ZERO intention of ever moving from her gilded penthouse in Trump Tower until the powers that be told her she was obligated to for the sake of public appearance. It’s not like she really hides her distaste when it comes to her husband . . . .

OF COURSE Rupert Murdoch called him a “fucking idiot.” HE IS ONE. I guarantee Tillerson called him a moron too.

OF COURSE he is so delusional he believes someone would poison him. Hell, it’s probably someone in his own family … or someone who married into his family only to be used as a patsy.

OF COURSE he hates the Obamas. Every single move he’s made since being elected is an attempt to delete Obama’s footprint from the history books. At this point one could only be thankful if the reasoning behind Trump’s disdain is because they were “very arrogant” rather than because The Donald wears a white robe and hood around Mar-A-Largo on the weekends.

OF COURSE Ivanka has her eye set on being the first female president. It’s pretty obvious at this point the Trumps like to fancy themselves as a new and not-so-improved version of the Kennedy clan.

OF COURSE Trump doesn’t read or “really even skim,” but instead engrosses himself in television viewing in order to see just how “fake” the news is that day in order to be able to Twat about it while taking his 3:00 a.m. constitutional every night after his handlers have retired to their beds. Is it really surprising Trump isn't a big reader? He is, after all, the dude who has “the best words” such as . . . .

OF COURSE Steve Bannon used him . . . .

Once again DUH MOTHERFUCKER. You were the only one stupid enough to believe a fucking white supremacist had the best interest of the country at heart.

OF COURSE everyone who works in the White House right now hates everyone else. Kelly hates everyone most of all. Thank Jeebus he loves this country enough to keep trying to stomp out the dumpster fire which is this presidency with his bare feet every day.

Was I the only person who equated this release to a Kitty Kelley sort “unauthorized biography????” Now, thanks to Trump and his merry band of minions – along with their cease and desist demands, this is sure to be a bestseller . . . .

Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
405 reviews2,198 followers
May 3, 2019
Posted at Heradas

This book doesn't challenge your assumptions. If it is to be believed, the day-to-day functioning of Trump’s White House appears to be simultaneously worse than we all imagined, and exactly as we all thought it probably was: Trump’s an idiot, the least self-aware person alive, interested only in his own celebrity and validation, and wholly unqualified to be the President of anything. Everyone around him is 1) Trying to save face. 2) Pushing their competing agendas. 3) Making fun of Trump. 4) Stabbing each other in the back. 5) Pulling their hair out. 6) Trying to avoid jail time. 7) Competing for Trump’s attention. 8) Trying to rein Trump in. 9) Trying not to get fired. 10) Trying to get everyone else fired. 11) Failing miserably at everything they do, because they themselves are wholly inept, and generally awful humans.

All things considered, it was a surprisingly compassionate portrayal of everyone involved. It’s the blind leading the blind leading us all off a cliff.

P.S. Pence is mostly absent from the book, which makes it seem like he’s just sitting on the sidelines, twirling his thumbs, waiting for the moment he can step in and become President.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.6k followers
Want to read
January 14, 2018

Donald Trump has loudly complained that he would be able to sue the author of Fire and Fury, were it not for the fact that US libel law is so weak. I thought I would look a few things up.

According to the Wikipedia article, libel law is indeed less plaintiff-friendly in the US than in most countries. In particular, truth is an absolute defense, i.e. true statements cannot be defamatory. However, if Fire and Fury does contain false and defamatory statements, it seems to me that Trump would have decent prospects of winning a case. It would be necessary to prove "actual malice", namely "knowledge that the information was false" or that it was published "with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not", and also that the allegations or imputations were "injurious to another in their trade, business, or profession". Since Wolff has openly said that he isn't sure of all his facts, and hopes his book will eventually force Trump to resign, I'd guess there would be a good case on both scores. For example, with respect to "injurious to another in their trade, business, or profession", the book has already been cited by governments unfriendly to the US, e.g. North Korea and Iran, as proof that Trump is mentally incompetent.

Another interesting piece of evidence, as pointed out by the publisher's attorney, is that Trump's cease-and-desist letter failed to identify any factually false or defamatory statements. I think the problem, from Trump's point of view, is simple: most or all of the book is in fact true.
Profile Image for Stephanie *Eff your feelings*.
239 reviews1,196 followers
March 6, 2018
**Knock knock** Uh… hello? Mr. *president? I’m sorry to just walk in to the oval office, but no one was at the desk and the door was wide open. Should that be?

Trump: “Yeah, I have trouble finding people willing to work for me, so I just leave the door open and let people wander in. Who are you? I hope you’re not from CNN.”

“No sir. My name is Michael Wolff, I’m an author and I want to write a book about you, your administration, and your first year in office. The working title is “The Great Transition: The first 100 Days of the Trump Adiministration”, yeah, that’s the ticket ….hey, have you lost weight? You look amazing!”

“I do look amazing. I’m the most amazing looking *president of all time…. Everyone says so. Come in and sit on the couch and never leave. I like you because you like me. You have the best taste. Here, have a laminated electoral map of the United states, see all the red? So much red, I won bigly.”

Wolff: “Thank you sir, I’m sure the red has nothing to do with mostly empty landmass.”

Trump: “Let me introduce you to the cast….um…. the people who work for me. Don’t ask me what they do, because I’m not sure what they do. This is my son in law, Jared Kushner. He’s going to bring peace to the Middle East because he’s Jewish. It’s a done deal!”

Wolff: “Wow! That’s almost impossible to believe, nice to meet you Jared.”

Jared: “……………….. Inaudible…………”

Trump: “This is Baby Ivanka, my wife daughter.”

Wolff: (throws up in mouth a little bit) “Hi Ivanka. Do you have a position here? “

Ivanka: “I think I’m an adviser or something. I sit here and look good and I never have an expression on my face.”

((Jared + Ivanka = Jarvanka. This is true.))

Wolff: “Who’s that woman in the corner? The one sobbing and covering her face, is she okay?”

Trump: “That’s Melania, my trophy wife. She’s been crying like that since election night.”

Wolff: “Me too.”

Trump: “What?”

Wolff: “Nothing….carry on with the introductions.”

“This is Reince Priebus. He gets me covfefe and fetches anything I tell him too.”

Reince: “I’m the Chief of Staff to the *president. Nice to meet you, (whispers) kill me and end this please.”

Trump: “This is Michael Flynn, he’s my ‘in’ with Putin.”

Flynn: “Actually, I’m the National Security Adviser AND the guy in charge of the Russia stuff. How’s it going?”

Wolff: “I’m feeling a bit nauseous, to be honest.”

Trump: “This is Sean Spicer. He goes on TV and talks to the fake news reporters, but I don’t think he looks the part.”

“Hi Michael. I’m the Press Secretary and it’s my job to lie outlandishly for the *president every day, and if I do a good job he won’t scream at me for hours.”

Trump: “This is my daughter Hope Hicks. She’s pretty.”

“Hello Hope, I didn’t see you down there….are you steaming the *president’s pants whilst he’s in them?”

“Yes. He enjoys it. I’m the White House Communications Director.”

Wolff: “Really? The position Bradley Whitford played in the West Wing? …huh.”

Hope: “Who? Well, as far as I know my job is to worship the *president, agree with everything he says, and make him feel good about himself at all times. I do my best to make sure he doesn’t hear anything negative about himself.”

Wolff: “So you’re a feminist.”

Hope: “What?”

Wolff: “Nevermind.”

Trump: “This is president Steve Bannon.”

“Hey there Michael, believe it or not I’m the White House Chief of Staff….. Toby from The West Wing. How are you?”

Wolff: “Kind of regretting my life decisions at the moment. Are you wearing two shirts? Forget it… Mr. *President, do you mind if I interview, and record, everyone that comes in here?”

Trump: “Sure! You’re a good guy because you like me. I know it’s going to be a great book. Any book about Trump is the best book! You’re only going to write nice things, right, because you like me?”
Wolff: “But of course! Heh heh…”

If you pay close attention to the clusterfuck that is happening in this country, nothing in this book will surprise you. If not, defiantly read it and get caught up. Most of this stuff has been reported by pundits for the last couple of years, but there is plenty in here to bring one a bit of schadenfreude, which makes it worth the read. But the best thing about the book is that it's making Trump pooh his pants.

A couple of fun facts that I learned was the *president yells at the cleaning staff (and everyone for everything all the time) for picking up clothing that he left on the floor, stating that ‘if the shirt is on the floor it’s because that’s where he wants it.’

He prefers fast food because he has a phobia of being poisoned. His (ir)rationale is that the McDonald's has no idea he’s showing up, so there is no chance they can plan on the poisoning. Yes, the food is poison and it kills one just as dead, only a bit slower. Don’t tell him.

Oh, and he likes to go to bed with a cheeseburger. Go whichever direction you wish with that information. I was reminded in the comments by Susan (the other Susan), that he also insists on stripping his bed every morning instead of letting the staff do it. Why? His diet (intestinal issues?) The nighty night cheeseburger? Who can say?

We, the citizens of the United States, are in danger. Our Democracy is in trouble. We must come out and vote for Democrats in the midterms in such numbers that the shenanigans by the republicans to keep us from voting will be unsuccessful. Make sure you’re registered now, and near Election Day. If everyone takes one other person who has never voted to the polls with them it will be more than enough to flip one, if not both houses. It’s the absolutely vital we flip them. Our lives depend on it.
A reckoning is coming… 11-6-18. Save the date!

*illegitimate, fake, not an actual president
Profile Image for Adam Dalva.
Author 8 books1,552 followers
January 7, 2018
Kinetic, trashy, slapdash, and completely addictive. Wolff's prose is uneven but he is very good at keeping the eye moving across the page, and in this he is perhaps helped by the book's failing: this is very padded out with stuff we already know (the long profiles of Kushner, Bannon, and Conway have no revelations in them.) But the gossip is gold, though the depictions of the characters have an unfortunate tendency toward lazy meanness. I don't need a description of Bannon as "on the spectrum," I just want to read "Might he be the worst manager who ever lived? He might."

WHAT IT TAKES, Richard Ben Cramer's recounting of the 1988 presidential election, is one of the 15 best books I've ever read, and it has what this book lacks: a zoom-out, a perspective, on America itself, and insight on the varying reasons people might run for President. In contrast, Trump is unusually absent from FIRE AND FURY, a blank spot of mysticism and derision. But the rush is fun, and that has its value. The epilogue, in which Bannon (surely the source of almost everything in here) muses about running for president himself, will stick with me. 3.51 stars.

In case you're not interested in wading through, I've pulled out the quotes that grabbed me, and will leave them here:

“You need a son of a bitch as your chief of staff. And you need a son of a bitch who knows Washington,” Ailes told Trump not long after the election. “You’ll want to be your own son of a bitch, but you don’t know Washington.” Ailes had a suggestion: “Speaker Boehner.” (John Boehner had been the Speaker of the House until he was forced out in a Tea Party putsch in 2011.) “Who’s that?” asked Trump."

"Scarborough and Brzezinski said it was all still complicated, and not public, officially, but it was good and everything was getting resolved.
“You guys should just get married,” prodded Trump.
“I can marry you! I’m an Internet Unitarian minister,” Kushner, otherwise an Orthodox Jew, said suddenly.
“What?” said the president. “What are you talking about? Why would they want you to marry them when I could marry them? When they could be married by the president! At Mar-a-Lago!”

He reprimanded the housekeeping staff for picking up his shirt from the floor: “If my shirt is on the floor, it’s because I want it on the floor.” Then he imposed a set of new rules: nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush. (He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s—nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.) Also, he would let housekeeping know when he wanted his sheets done, and he would strip his own bed."

“I like Flynn, he reminds me of my uncles,” said Bannon. “But that’s the problem: he reminds me of my uncles."

Then McMaster, wearing a uniform with his silver star, came in and immediately launched into a wide-ranging lecture on global strategy. Trump was soon, and obviously, distracted, and as the lecture continued he began sulking.
“That guy bores the shit out of me,” announced Trump after McMaster left the room. But Kushner pushed him to take another meeting with McMaster, who the next day showed up without his uniform and in a baggy suit.
“He looks like a beer salesman,” Trump said, announcing that he would hire McMaster but didn’t want to have another meeting with him."

"For most of the day, almost no one would know that he had decided to take matters into his own hands. In presidential annals, the firing of FBI director James Comey may be the most consequential move ever made by a modern president acting entirely on his own."

"Moving from the cabinet room across the open area into the president’s earshot, “a loud, scary, clearly threatening” Bannon, in the Jarvanka telling, yelled, “I am going to fuck you and your little group!” with a baffled president plaintively wanting to know, “What’s going on?”

“Look, Kasowitz has known him for twenty-five years. Kasowitz has gotten him out of all kinds of jams. Kasowitz on the campaign—what did we have, a hundred women? Kasowitz took care of all of them.” - Bannon.
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
Want to read
January 5, 2018
this is what happens when you let a Wolff into your House, silly!

Profile Image for Maureen .
1,380 reviews7,088 followers
January 28, 2018
**2.5 Stars**

Disturbed! No I'm not talking about Trump - disturbed is how I felt on finishing this book. To use an alleged quote by Sean Spicer " You can't make this shit up"

Accusations fly in all directions throughout this book, but as to whether any of these accusations can be substantiated, is another matter, though to be fair to the author, Trump appears to be surrounded by incompetent and politically inexperienced people and I include the man himself in that too. I don't profess to be well informed on American politics, but it's clear that something is very wrong in the White House. Trump's advisors seem unable to reign him in, as is clearly demonstrated by his rants on social media. I honestly worry for the US in particular, and the rest of the world in general, if just a fraction of this book is factual. It also speaks volumes to me, that the leader of one of the greatest nations on earth appears to be proud of the fact that he doesn’t read, and has never bought a text book ( he certainly doesn't come out of it with any dignity ).We all recognise on Goodreads just how much knowledge is to be gained from reading, and how our understanding of other people's views is expanded.

I don’t think this book was particularly well written, it certainly didn't flow, and there were numerous grammatical/ editing issues. I also question whether there were any real revelations here, especially to those of you in the US. All in all a real disappointment that left me with even more concerns than I already had!
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
January 22, 2018
The day Trump was elected President of the USA the world let out a collective gasp, a gasp of absolute horror as the unbelievable actually happened: an unqualified misogynistic climate change denier became one of the most powerful men in the world. I remember walking into work that evening and the atmosphere was utterly dead. Nobody knew quite what to say as even in England we were dismayed and horror struck: we were numb.

A strong degree of uncertainty and tension spread over the world. We all watched. We all anticipated. We all worried about what this man was capable of doing, of what he might do with the power that was (and still is) at his disposal. All he had to do was push a button and he could send us all into a third world war, one year on and that uncertainty is still here. I get anxious when I read about the provoking tweets he has spread across social media. I get anxious when I hear about the tension between the USA and North Korea. Trump makes me anxious.

Fire and Fury does nothing to ease such feelings; it is sensationalist and it only serves to fan the fires of worry. But we should be worried; we should all be so terribly worried about what this man may do next. But does that make this book good? Does it make this book factually correct and impartial? From the opening of my review, it is very clear that I am not impartial but that does not mean that a book that seeks to defame Trump would necessarily be enjoyable for me. If this was written well, with care, thought and a critical mind-set, it would have wielded far more persuasive power.

There’s only one reason this book has become so popular and has sold so many copies: Trump didn’t want us to read it so, naturally, we all wanted to. There’s nothing quite like banned (or attempted-banned) literature to peak the interest of the reading public. What’s in this book that Trump didn’t want us to see? What’s in this book that he would try to hide from a world that openly criticises his buffoonery already? Absolutely nothing. Trump haters: there’s nothing in this book that you did not already know.

I wanted dirt, real dirt: I wanted drama and I wanted even more reason to hate this guy. Instead I got a few details, but not anything of a surprising nature. I learnt that the operations of the White House under his leadership are a complete shambles. Shock horror! But the thing that really let the book down was its sheer lack of evidence. I have no confidence in what Wolff has written. He is a journalist, but this is bad journalism. There are no references and very few of his interviewees were willing to actually go on the record.

So the end result is a book that I simply cannot trust. I lost my faith with it after reading the three page prologue, where Wolff explained why he has little support to back up his claims; certainly, not a good start for any book: it felt gossipy, fake and like it was written for a trashy tabloid newspaper.
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
309 reviews2,370 followers
January 9, 2018

When I heard that Trump tried to stop the release of this book...well, look out! The only thing I can't stand more than Trump is a flagrantly unconstitutional book ban. I hate to pay retail for books, but I did. I could only get my hands on an audio copy, since apparently the entire city of Portland was sold out the minute the stores opened. You could say I HAD TO READ THIS BOOK just to spite Trump. Thank you, Audible, for fulfilling that instant gratification need.

In the words attributed to Sean Spicer, "you can't make this shit up." I agree. The book is highly readable, salacious and dishy. You get a real feel of how Trump is (was) influenced by Bannon on one side and the "Jarvanka" moderates on the other. Most of the juicy "domestic" scenes have been released already, who can get that picture out of their head---Trump climbing into bed at 6:30 with his cheeseburger and Coke and three tv sets on? Gives me chills to think of an American President acting the way he does on a daily basis.

On one hand, I found the flow of the book a little awkward. But on the other hand, that makes it easy to pick up and start reading from any chapter. While traveling in a mostly forward timeline beginning from Trump's campaign up until now, each chapter is centered around a single person or single event that occurred during Trump's first year in the White House. Mostly, I was shouting at anyone who would listen: ooh, I forgot about that, oh yeah, and when he did that, ooh! It is a condensed version of all the craziness we have endured for the last year.

I don't know how much is true, if the verbatim quotes are accurate and attributed to the correct character. There is a lot of "summarizing" of conversations by Wolff. However, he has obviously done his biographical research and I enjoyed reading the history and backgrounds of many in Trump's inner circle. Did you know, for example, that Jared Kushner had a very similar family dynamic to Ivanka's? He was always desperate for his father's approval and was required to kiss him on greeting and call him Daddy. Ick.

If even 15% of this book is true, we are in trouble. But, we already know that. As fun as it is to find out what really is going on in the Whitehouse, you will finish this book feeling worse than before. I'm sorry.

Profile Image for Trevor.
1,293 reviews21.7k followers
January 11, 2018
There has been a lot of commentary on this book since it was released, a lot of it about how sloppy the journalism is. Others have said that the book really only mirrors back to us what we already knew about Trump. I have to say that I’m more in the second camp than the first. I raced through this, not because I was expecting any spoilers, most of those were in the papers days before the book was available anyway. I also find it amusing that the person most damaged by the book seems to have been Steve Bannon.

People do say that it takes a few years before you can get an accurate fix on the present – but one of the things this book does is to press ‘replay’ on what has been a crazy year. And since almost every day has brought yet another reason for my jaw to bounce off the table, having everything replayed reminds me that if I was in anyway sensible I would give up reading newspapers and following the news.

I don’t pretend to understand the American psyche. I can think of no excuse for Trump – somehow millions of people voted for a complete psycho. I don’t watch television – but I’ve since seen some of his ‘work’ as a reality TV star – what in the name of Jesus were you thinking, America when you voted for this tosser? This is a mistake that could well end the planet.

I used to have a theory about stupid people and power. I’ve worked for people who have been pretty dumb and one of the things that seems to always happen with them is that they do two things that trap themselves in their own stupidity. The first is the need to have an opinion on just about everything. So much so that they just pull the first thing out of their bum that pops into their mind. The problem then is that their pride makes it impossible to change their mind. This is actually the same problem – dumb people are almost completely incapable of saying ‘I don’t know’ (the next time you find yourself saying ‘I don’t know’, say it with pride). So, they jump and then, once they have jumped, they can’t be seen to take a step back. Pride means they have to defend the position they jumped into based on no forethought whatsoever. So, the twin problem is having to have an opinion on everything and never being able to back down.

But Trump is slightly different to this kind of stupidity – he does change his mind, he just doesn’t admit that he has done it. It is even possible that he doesn’t even know that he has changed his mind. He is interesting (if that is the right word) because he needs constant reassurance. The phrase ‘man-baby’ could have been coined to describe him. And he needs to feel he has won. He is the living embodiment of that quote from Nietzsche, “I have done that', says my memory. I cannot have done that—says my pride and remains unshakeable. Finally—memory yields”. As the author says, Trump sees every interaction as a zero-sum competition – in which he either wins or loses. No other alternative is available.

But of all the quotable parts of this book, the quote that has gotten under my skin and made me dislike this idiot even more than I thought it was possible for me to hate him already, was this quote:

“Trump liked to say that one of the things that made life worth living was getting your friends’ wives into bed. In pursuing a friend’s wife, he would try to persuade the wife that her husband was perhaps not what she thought. Then he’d have his secretary ask the friend into his office; once the friend arrived, Trump would engage in what was, for him, more or less constant sexual banter. Do you like having sex with your wife? How often? You must have had a better fuck than your wife? Tell me about it. I have girls coming in from Los Angeles at three o’clock. We can go upstairs and have a great time. I promise… And all the while, Trump would have his friend’s wife on the speakerphone, listening in.”

Think about this for a minute. Here is a man who, to achieve a sense of winning over someone he knows, is prepared to destroy that person’s and their wife’s relationship. To be completely frank, I’m not as troubled by the idea that people might have an affair – although, the idea of anyone sleeping with Trump seems somewhat surprising to me. Still, I’ve never understood what women find attractive about men or, in fact, why they aren’t all lesbians. All the same, I think most relationships survive adultery, sex really doesn’t mean nearly as much as people make it out to mean. What does mean a lot is love – and I would be prepared to bet that no one has ever fucked Trump for love. That he has found a way to have sex with the wives of friends by attacking the love between a married couple is unconscionable. I’m surprised by how annoyed this has made me.

That Trump would set up a friend (or even an enemy) like this just to be able to sleep with their wife is beyond belief. I would like to believe that this is a lie or part of the ‘sloppy journalism’ mentioned above – but the problem is that it is almost impossible not to believe it of this man. And that is the problem. Coming up to the election he would, about once a week, do something so shockingly repulsive (mock a disabled person, talk about grabbing women by the pussy, say he could shoot a random person in the street and still get elected, physically stalk and intimidate Clinton on stage) that I honestly felt it was impossible for him to be elected. I’m not talking about anything based on sloppy journalism here, just facts about him all known prior to him being elected.

Now I can’t think of a single thing I could learn about this man that I would doubt him being capable of. He strikes me as completely lacking in morality, as someone without the mental capacity to understand what morality even means.

And that the American people have handed such a man ultimate power and put the rest of us at risk of this lunatic. Build four walls – put on a roof.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,644 reviews5,102 followers
January 17, 2018
Lots of fun, except it's not. Reads like a parody, except it's not. *Dies*

 photo DSpwZW_WsAM1l_P_zps71lsmtcw.jpg

Wolff is a lively raconteur, to say the least. "Sardonic" is just the beginning for him. Overall this was an enjoyable read, if reading about how low your country can go could ever be considered enjoyable. But hey I'm not a big fan of the world in general, so I will find my pleasures where I can.

I pretty much read this like I read fiction because that's the most enjoyable way for me to read nonfiction. Did the story captivate me? Yes. How was the writing? A solid 3 stars, I liked it. Did the book resonate? I suppose it did, to an extent. But this is coming from a guy who still can't believe that Trump was elected in the first place. Part of my job is in public policy; I also work with people who are often fucked over by various governments... I need to create some distance when I'm off work time. And so the only way I can stay upbeat in this fucked up world - being all too familiar with the actual results of decisions made by various malicious idiots in power - is to create some layers between me and this world's leaders. And so I view them through a reality tv lens. Don't shame me, I'm already ashamed.

Anyway, on that note, Jarvanka versus Bannon was delicious. Really the best ongoing narrative (mainly due to Russia collusion narrative being dull and predictable; I mean seriously, am I supposed to be surprised?)... those three are hilar. The story of how they divided the White House and battled for Trump's attention was like watching a cross between reality tv show Big Brother and some very serious HBO prestige drama about ego-based battles for dominance, delivered with shades of Larry David and um Fellini.

Also I just youtubed the amazing battle royale of Jake Tapper (wonderfully suave and condescending) versus Stephen Miller (hilariously stoned cretin) and that was equally amusing. Am I even living in the real world? This can't be the real world. *Dies*

But back to the book... the ongoing question of whether Trump is mentally ill or just an idiot was fun. But also not. Sorta like the whole book!

 photo trump wolf_zpsdcnhzq1z.png
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,118 reviews3,966 followers
July 21, 2020
In the last 18 months, I’ve developed an unhealthy obsession. Although the Brexit referendum means UK politics is serious, the first and last thing I do online most days is check Trump’s Twitter feed, and several US news ones. And I look during the day as well. Even though, or perhaps because I’m familiar with George Lakoff’s Taxonomy of Tweets, I can’t help myself:

Preemptive framing, diversion, deflection, and trial balloon are explained here.

Thus, when I picked up this book, I’d already read all the most significant extracts, plus intelligent commentary and analysis of them. And I’m not the only one. That makes a review summarising its content rather pointless, unless I have some new and profound insight to share with the world, which I don’t.

Nasty Confirmation

I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.

This is a nasty book about nastier people. People who are also inexperienced, ignorant, and sometimes just stupid. People who are greedy (for wealth, admiration, and power), delusional, vindictive, and often lacking empathy, self-control, and any moral principles.

But it’s all confirmation, not revelation. Confirmation of everything everyone has known about Trump for decades (just look at old TV and magazine interviews), but with very recent examples. For me, the most shocking thing is not his many and extreme character flaws, but the fact that none of them have prevented him getting where he is or - yet - from staying there. I fear the 5th Avenue claim would hold true.

Cartoon: The naked emperor

Fake News?

Trump always accuses others of things he himself is even more guilty of. The compulsive liar declares “fake news” like the boy crying Wolff, but when he tweeted “The Highly-Anticipated 2017 Fake News Awards” shortly after this was published, none of the main claims in it were included.

Anyway, Wolff pre-empts such accusations in an author’s note at the start of the book where he explicitly addresses the sometimes conflicting accounts White House staffers gave him:
Those conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book.

The details don’t matter: the main claims are utterly plausible and have been reported many times, by different people, often including Trump.

Ugh… Aah

Reading this made me feel contaminated, scared, helpless, and angry:

I need respite. I need beauty.
When I wrote that elsewhere in relation to this book, my father’s American partner sent me Ray Charles, singing America The Beautiful, HERE.

I want visual beauty, too:

The photo is of Tuolumne Meadows, above Yosemite. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited. There’s poignancy in my posting this review the day after the second Women’s March, when the National Park Service website (where the photo is hosted) is displaying a message about the government shutdown.


I want to return to this book in ten or twenty years, when I hope the world will have become a gentler, more accepting place again. The lessons here, regardless of how accurate they are, should be remembered so they are not repeated.

Related Reviews

This was the first Trump book I read and reviewed, as it was one of the early headline-grabbing ones (my review HERE).

Then, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo as it was refreshingly fun, and with a good, positive message (my review HERE).

Next up was The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography as it’s at the rotten heart of what I most despise (my review HERE).

And finally, Fear: Trump in the White House as it’s by Bob Woodward: a multi award winning journalist and biographer of nine presidents, red and blue (my review HERE).

And then, Ladybird did a satire, using illustrations from children's books, A Ladybird Book About Donald Trump (my review HERE).

Next, Mary L Trump's psychological analysis of her dysfunctional family, Too Much and Never Enough (my review HERE).
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.5k followers
March 13, 2019

In her 2004 New Republic profile of Michael Wolff, Michelle Cottle quotes one of his editors as saying: “His great gift is the appearance of intimate access. He is adroit at making the reader think that he has spent hours and days with his subject, when in fact he may have spent no time at all.”

This seems exactly right to me. Wolff is in essence a gossip columnist, obsessed with power and money, delighting in bitchy revelations and amateur—though often devastating—psychological insights, but with no real interest in policy or history, character or tragedy. As a consequence, he lacks the essential seriousness required for White House journalism. Yes, even for the fevered, clownish presidency of Donald J. Trump.

Does that mean I didn’t enjoy Fire and Fury at all? Of course not. It bored me at times, but at other times I enjoyed it very much, particularly when it skewered people I detest (which is just about all of them).

I have a second-rate mind at least a third of the time, and I loved learning all the “Page 6” dirt about the quirks of the West Wing misfit toys: Jarvanka, surprised and elated at Father’s win, debating which of them should run for president first (they decided on Ivanka); the Donald sleeping alone, flanked by two video screens and cheeseburgers; Bannon referring to Steven Miller as “my typist”; Spicer, at first hurt by his growing isolation, eventually welcoming it as a protection from legal jeopardy; Trump’s light golden hair color explained as the result of his impatience, his refusal to wait until his hair color product had sufficient time to do its work; Steven Miller, claiming no part in the Air Force One Donald Jr. “obstruction” conference, since he was, although on the plane, off in a small theater watching Fargo; and how Nikki Haley having been “spending a notable amount of private time” with the president on Air Force One, “was, evident to many, being mentored in Trumpian ways.”

Sure, Fire and Fury is entertaining (sometimes), but it is far from being a good book. Wolff delivers few penetrating insights into human character, no dramatic scenes of confrontation. Instead, he spins clouds of innuendo, formed of fashionably chosen words, some of which are French, and most of which are imprecisely applied. He reminds me of the kind of social climber you might meet in a fashionable club, one who tosses out gobbets of gossip about the famous people he has met. His portraits are convincing, he has the air of an insider, but still...is what he tells you something that actually happened? Or is it what he surmises may have happened? Or perhaps is it what he is convinced should have happened, in the perfection of his gossip dreams?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 10 books7,515 followers
January 7, 2018
This book is a pretty good answer to that universal "What the fuck just happened???" question we all asked ourselves in the weeks and months after Trump won the election.

That's because it recounts a LOT of what we already know, with far less deeper insight than I was hoping for.

The other thing that makes me a little wary of this is the way it is written. I'm sorry, but this doesn't really feel like journalism to me. It reads like fiction. Like Wolff was somehow a fly on the wall for every important everything that happened on Capitol Hill in 2017.

There is a lot of:

"Ivanka walked down the stairs, her phone pressed to her ear, and said, "I know, it's a complete mess. I'm working on it.""

How does the author know this detail? Did he witness it? Did a White House aide tell him she said that? Did he hear it third or fourth hand from someone who knows someone who knows someone who was there?

It isn't clear, because he doesn't cite any sources aside from in his intro, which are pretty vague.

Are there some explosive details in here? Sure, yes, peppered in between exhaustively long chapters focused on that necromancer's wet dream, Steve Bannon, and the other sycophants and reprobates Trump surrounds himself with.

I honestly suggest reading a super spoilery review with the best of the incendiary passages instead of subjecting yourself to a lengthy recounting of what was the worst year of American news and politics and policy in recent history.

This review is also available on The Alliterates.
Profile Image for Betsy Robinson.
Author 9 books1,036 followers
October 10, 2018
The reason more than 80 percent of New York City dwellers voted against Donald Trump was because we knew him—his history of pathological lying, his grandiose credit-taking for things he had nothing to do with, his cheating almost everybody who worked for him, his serial misogyny and complete lack of scruples.* Mayor Mike Bloomberg said it straight at the Democratic National Convention: “I’m a New Yorker and I know a con when I see one.” For people who liked Trump, his charm had to do with the fact that he was an unapologetic con artist who laughed at his own antics (for an example of the old Trump charm and humor at his own expense, listen to the Howard Stern interview about how he reacted to someone else's trauma). The mistake New Yorkers made was thinking that of course everybody could see the act .

I certainly saw it, but I was also so clobbered by the Recession that I saw the rage, desperation, and racism that was throbbing in our culture, and I was terrified that, with his P.T. Barnum instincts, Trump would trump his own plan (to lose) by having the con succeed. Wolff delineates the shock of the turnaround, obliterating the game plan to “win by losing” and become the most famous person in the world, making more money.

All of it is chronicled in Wolff’s free-wheeling book, and really there is nothing new about Trump here. But it is somewhat pleasurable to read confirmation of what we knew and saw, reported by somebody who was a self-described “fly on the wall” of the West Wing and has actual tapes of Trump machine insiders speaking the truth.

And on further reflection (this revision added 1/27/18), the validation of many people's belief that Trump never intended to win the election may be the one bit of real news in this book. It explains so many things that have happened and continue to happen: the complete lack of preparation of Trump and his entire staff to assume responsibilities (because it would have been wasted energy, since losing was the plan) and the fact that Trump seems to have no interest in learning history, protocol, or what is or is not legal. It never interested him and continues to bore him. (The future ramifications of this are laid out in a wonderful Bloomberg article by Tim O'Brien, author of TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald, who was sued by Trump for libel.)

Almost as much as Trump, Steve Bannon is a star of this book. He is an angry man, with zero political experience, eager to wage a battle, in search of his power to do so. When he finds it by being the only person who has read books and can speak literately about history in the Trump White House, he sets to work “doing things”:
Just doing things became a Bannon principle, the sweeping antidote to bureaucratic and establishment ennui and resistance. It was the chaos of just doing things that actually got things done. Except, even if you assumed that not knowing how to do things didn’t much matter if you just did them, it was still not clear who was going to do what you wanted to do. Or, a corollary, because nobody in the Trump administration really knew how to do anything, it was therefore not clear what anyone did.

Sean Spicer, whose job was literally to explain what people did and why, often simply could not—because nobody really had a job, because nobody could do a job. (pp. 63-64)

After reading the chapter called “Jarvanka,” I was amazed and disgusted at the fact that nowhere in any of the people involved with Trump is a thought about service—that the job is to serve the millions of people who elected them, let alone all those who didn't. According to this book, Ivanka and Jared saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (the chance to work in the White House) and decided to seize it, with the understanding that if the next step was running for office themselves, Ivanka would go first and be the first woman president! Not only is there no thought of WHY and that it has something to do with working for the people, but the sense of entitlement obliterates even the possibility of respect for people who know what they're doing because they've spent their entire adult lives learning through service, and by the time they get to the White House, they know the rules of law and governance!

In the chapter on Russia, Wolff writes that Trump could understand politicians, but he was finding it hard to get a handle on these bureaucrat government lifer types. He couldn't grasp what they wanted. Why would they, or anyone, be a permanent government employee? “‘They max out at what? Two hundred grand? Tops,’ he said, expressing something of wonder.” Trump has never felt an impulse to serve anybody so he has no comprehension of people who commit their lives to the greater good. This point later illuminates the foundation for Trump’s inability to comprehend other people: Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s lawfully correct decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. In Sessions’s worldview, the greater good, and his “life’s work” was “to curb, circumscribe, and undo the interpretation of federal law that had for three generations undermined American culture and offended his own place in it. (155)” Nor does Trump really grok his former pal Steve Bannon, who was driven by a conviction that we are in the midst of civil war and restoration of white American values circa 1950-1965 is paramount. Trump has no convictions other than an incontrovertible belief in his unassailable grandeur.

I’ve never been able to make sense out of Trump’s feelings about Jews. His father was a well-known anti-Semite; Trump believes there are Nazis who are good people; his son-in-law and by-conversion-daughter and their children are Jewish. In a chapter titled “Goldman,” I finally got some help:
For Trump, giving Israel to Kushner was not only a test, it was a Jewish test: the president was singling him out for being Jewish, rewarding him for being Jewish, saddling him with the impossible hurdle for being Jewish—and, too, defaulting to the stereotyping belief in the negotiating powers of Jews. “Henry Kissinger says Jared is going to be the new Henry Kissinger,” Trump said more than once, rather a combined compliment and slur. (142)

Fire and Fury profiles a White House in chaos and a president with serious mental problems who has no attention span or capacity to listen, read, and learn—a man who made four-year-old-bored-boy faces when briefed about the specifics of the Constitution or health care reform or any policy matter, a man who landed the most important job in the world without meaning to, a man whose main concerns are being liked, getting richer, and playing golf.

I read the Kindle version of this book, which like the hardback, was launched early in response to Trump’s attempt to block publication. It is in severe need of proofreading. (My favorite typo: “Bannon, with mounting ferocity and pubic (sic) venom . . .”) As an editor, I am annoyed, however the sloppiness does match its subjects, who have zero respect for care and the painstaking effort it takes to do something well. So there is a certain karmic justice and artistic symmetry to the current picture:

(1) This blustery self-promoter with no scruples rides the free publicity of the media’s fascination with his insanity, and he uses the coverage to stoke self-righteous rage and promises to use the loopholes and outright illegal tactics that made him wealthy to benefit the little guys, so they vote for him.

(2) Once in office, his lack of knowledge of, let alone care about, the law as well as his self-involved rage and inability to understand anything other than winning/losing or praise/criticism throw the White House and the world into chaos.

(3) A well-known “slasher” writer uses the open access granted him by an administration who loves attention and has no understanding of who the writer is (because vetting is not their style), not to mention the difference between on and off the record, and he hangs out, amiably observing and making nice, then succeeds in weaving his observations into an addictive story—an almost impossible-to-accomplish narrative given the a level of insanity, chaos, and its myriad participants—and it all goes into a sloppily made book, rushed to publication to cash in on the free publicity of its subject trying to quash it . . . and hopefully it eventually does the job the Trump voters wanted: blowing up the swamp.

1/9/18 Postscript
Because I truly believe that compassion is a much more powerful force for change than ire, I want to add a recommendation. Read Jennifer Weiner's 1/8/18 NY Times editorial, What the President Doesn't Get About Dogs. It infused me with horrified compassion for just how lonely, isolated, and without the capacity to know, find, or receive unconditional love this man is. I actually hurt for him. But he still needs to have a fitness evaluation and be held accountable for what he has done.

* 10/10/18 Update
Unemployed former employees of Carrier and Honeywell are now demonstrating at a Trump Rally in Erie, PA (see Facebook). They are furious that Trump lied about saving their jobs and keeping work in the U.S.A. I wonder how long it will take until the whole middle of America realizes what New Yorkers have known for decades--the man is a flimflam con artist.
December 29, 2021

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This book was everywhere. Comedians were talking about it. Politicians were talking about it. Magazines and newspapers were talking about it. Trump was talking about it. Even the Grammys got in on it, with Hillary Clinton making a special cameo, during which she read excerpts from the book. It was supposed to be game-changing. Scandalous. Dishy. Controversial. It was making ~waves~. Hell, I even got unfriended by several people after posting status updates for this book! It was that #edgy.

Naturally, everyone wanted a piece of that sweet, sweet edge.

I'm a bit late to the game, since I got my copy from the library (curse you, waiting list), but I did eyeball some of my friends' status updates as they read the book, and their lack of "OH MY GOD, NO WAY!" was a tip-off that this book probably wasn't going to be the ##BIGSCANDAL it was being hyped up to be. Things rarely are. I think we all remember how disappointed we were when Rachel Maddow went on TV claiming to have a copy of Trump's tax returns that she was going to reveal, live, and it was just an old, already released copy from 2005. I was expecting that.

FIRE AND FURY has two major problems: unprofessional writing and lack of cited sources. The former makes sense. The author/publisher apparently received a cease and desist notice regarding the book, and in a sweeping gesture intended to support the first amendment and the free press, they sped up publication, thus putting the book into the public's hands faster and thumbing their nose at the president (and also garnering a fair amount of publicity and demand, as well). But it means that the book is riddled with typos like this (although maybe not quite so unfortunate): Bannon was making his first official pubic [sic] appearance of the Trump presidency (130). The writing itself is a bit breathless and sensationalistic and kind of reminds me of GAME CHANGE, the book that detailed the campaign between Clinton, McCain, and Obama. Both books take an omniscient third-person narrator approach that makes the reader wonder, "How many liberties are they taking with the story?"

Which brings me to the second point. I'm a chronic Googler. I like looking things up. When reading nonfiction about a subject I find interesting or relevant, I immediately jump to the sources listed in the book, for further research. It's how I was raised: to question, to be skeptical, to gather data in the search for truth in the face of salient evidence. In the back of my edition of FIRE AND FURY, there is an index - but no page numbers, and also no bibliography or list of sources. The lack of footnotes concerned me, as many documentaries in book form have footnotes after quotes or data that are then indexed in the back by chapter with a list of the websites, articles, and interviews that the author gleaned that information from. This book did not have those things, which I found troubling.

As far as the content goes, it told me nothing I couldn't have learned from watching Seth Meyers or Samantha Bee, or picking up a newspaper (God help me). If it did anything, it only reinforced the suspicions I already had: that Trump appears to be a childish, inexperienced, paranoid, petty, narcissistic man who needs to be fed praise constantly and obsesses over any negative statements about his glorious personage the same way Ebeneezer Scrooge greedily counted his coins; that Bannon appears to be a crude and nasty man who dreams of isolationism and wants to take down the liberal party with the same sort of elaborate schemes that Bond villains used to try to take over the world; that Jared and Ivanka appear to be trying to play Good Cop to Trump's Bad Cop in a pitiful effort to out-class the sinking ship that is the S.S. Alt-Right Party, but are in it for themselves as much as anyone else. It's freaking ridiculous, and not a day goes by when I wonder, "How did we get here?"

I'm as liberal as they come, and live in one of the most liberal places in the entire United States, but I will be the first to admit that this book had problems. And while I can appreciate the publisher wanting to support free speech and the free press, the move did appear a mite publicity-driven. I'm glad people are reading this book, and I hope that it will encourage them to ask questions, too, and maybe think extra hard about the people who are affected by such gross changes in government, but at the same time, I think that the typos and sloppy writing make it way too easy for the points that this book makes to be dismissed, and that feels like it's going to be a big mistake in the long run.

But hey, that's just my two cents.

3 stars
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books909 followers
January 26, 2018
I’m no Trump fan, but let me offer this bit of optimism: if we have to have a Republican in the White House, he might as well be so dysfunctional that nothing is accomplished. Barring the frighteningly real possibility of accidental nuclear war, I’d much rather an incompetent lunatic than a competent one.

Imagine how much evil Mike Pence could accomplish with majorities in the House and Senate. Now that’s true terror. And we’ve seen how craftily he can lie to our faces—even when literally everyone knows it’s a lie. Shiver.

Sorry but when people say “George W is starting to look good now!” I become furious. Do they have no memory? Those were truly dark times, on all accounts, socially, financially, optically. Why was it so bad? Because Bush was an idiot who could actually get things done.

Anyway, with these thoughts in mind, I read Fire and Fury with a smile. No I’m not happy that my country elected a racist reality tv host, but in the end, I think we’re getting a lot of Obama policy rollover because everyone in this administration is so stupid they don’t know what else to do. Four years of misery might also be just the gift Democrats need to win back majorities and hopefully—finally—elect a female president.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,559 reviews2,312 followers
January 8, 2018
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff is like being a fly on the wall in the White House. Sure, some of this info was on the news but this is more personal. This gets right in there to the people that work with the Grabber-in-Chief. What they think of him, how they work together, or not. The back stabbing, the leaking and by who about who. What the staff call the main loafer behind his back. What the orange man does with his time. It is quite interesting. There are grammar mistakes... didn't expect that. Knocked a star off for that. The rest was what I always wished, to be a fly on the wall...:)
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,736 reviews14.1k followers
January 14, 2018
2.5 I had to read this, felt compelled too, especially after hearing that the White House was trying to stop publication, and that the publishers recently printed on additional 700,000. What could possibly be in this that they were trying so hard to keep everyone from knowing. Well, the answer is, not much that I didn't know, or at least expect. Many things in this book had already been leaked and written about in various news sources. Though there is more in-depth background provided to many of the stories, and more on the power couple, Jared and Ivanka.

Am I surprised that no one in the White House really knows what they are doing? Have no political experience? Not at all, it was widely apparent during the campaign if one paid attention, which I admit at a certain point, and for my own sanity, I did not. That different factions are pushing their own agendas, trying to be the power behind the throne, like the Guises and the Bourbons during the religious wars in France? Not a bit surprised. That there are little men and woman with fire extinguishers running behind the Trumper trying to put out the fires his tweets, ridiculous and derogatory comments, and late night phone calls to supposed friends, have caused? Nope. Well I could go on and on but I won't.

Do I believe everything I read? Of course not, the truth is always found somewhere in the middle. But if only fifty percent is true it is still quite unbelievable. Those ruling our country right now are from rarefied backgrounds, they have no idea and really don't care too, about the lives of ordinary people. If you believe they actually care about what you want, you are fooling yourselves. Trump, has never pretended to be anything but what he is, he showed it early and showed it often. Still he won. This book, will not change the mind of his supporters, if that was possible he and his family would not now be running our country. If saying what he did on the campaign trail didn't, this book certainly won't. All reality TV shows have to end sometimes, don't they?
Profile Image for Jeff.
21 reviews
February 17, 2018
This book, hotly anticipated, doesn't offer a new look at the nascent Trump presidency so much as it offers a more narrative guided tour to an historically bizarre global event still in the making. This book feels like it would be best for anyone who has been watching politics with one eye or not much at all, and wants a refresher on why the white house is in the state it's in. For those of us who have been watching politics with both eyes horrifyingly open, the effect is more of a consolidation of the travails thus far.

Fire and Fury had jumped to the top of my to-read list after reading the excerpt/article at
Most of the "new" information was in that teaser and have since been spread out among the press and won't strike anyone who reads the book now as particularly novel anymore. The reason Wolff didn't have even more new information to tell is amply covered by the fact that everyone in the administration was leaking their own stories seemingly from day one.

Overall, Wolff's book has an easy to read, conversational style that makes it worth looking at for diehards and neophytes alike. That said, without any sources listed, I would take the quotes and stated motivations less as an accurate recording than as the impression of a person standing in the eye of a hurricane reporting on the chaos swirling all around.

Profile Image for Lilo.
131 reviews360 followers
November 1, 2020
Today, April 29, 2018, I finished reading the above book. So this is now the completed, updated version of my review. If you have already read my preliminary review, please don’t miss reading the update following the initial text.

This book has been criticized for being sloppily written and consisting mainly of unproven rumors. Well, I definitely have read books of higher literary value. I could not honestly say that I like the writing style of this book. There are lots of badly constructed, convoluted sentences. And I am sure that any strict English teacher would need a lot of red ink proofreading this book. However, HOWEVER, I cannot thank the author enough for writing this book. He has done America and its allies a big service. (“A known danger is half a danger.”)

Don’t we all deserve to learn what is happening to our country? Shouldn’t we all be made aware that the present President of the United States, the supposed-to-be Leader of the Free World, is not only ethically and morally unfit for the job but apparently an outright imbecile with the attention span of a preschooler? You might think that you already know this, but believe you me: It is worse than you can imagine. I have watched the daily news all along and tried to keep myself informed, but this book tells more than CNN can tell without risking to be ripped to pieces for not supplying bomb-tight evidence.

Mainly unproven rumors? Not really! Hear-say, yes. Lots and lots of hear-say, and not all with evidence that would hold in court. But it is all hear-say from people who should know. And there is no reason why either these insiders or the author should have lied. There is also something else: Taking the contents of this book in context with what I keep hearing from Trump himself on the daily news, I can only say that all this hear-say fits like pieces into a picture puzzle. For all these reasons, I believe every word of this book.

I cannot help myself, but I have to compare this book to a colonoscopy—a colonoscopy that ventures into the intestines of the Trump White House, finding unhealthy growths, numerous parasites, and pathologic microbes (more and more outnumbering beneficial critters), while encountering various other ass-crawlers and here and there a piece of shit. To stay with this analogy: Amidst of all these undesirable colon contents is a big undigestible and toxic something that should have never landed there and that is not only causing cramps and constipation but might prove fatal to the whole organism (that is, our country or even our planet) unless this big troublemaker can be expelled with the help of a strong laxative or an enema (aka impeachment). Sorry if I should have made you feel nauseated. Yet weren’t you already feeling nauseated when you watched the news today?

Before I go, I would like to tell you a little story:

Back in Germany, we had a neighbor. He was a real jerk. If the word "jerk" hadn't existed, it would have had to be invented for this guy. The only reason his wife (our cleaning lady) did not divorce him was because she would have ended up on welfare after a divorce. This guy had the brains of a soda biscuit. He was what my husband and I call "a brainless horned toad". Whatever he did was stupid and would result in some kind of damage. He, of course, also squandered money, leaving his wife in quite a predicament. Besides, every time this guy would open his big mouth, everyone around him could hardly wait for him to shut up again. Obviously, this guy had never heard of Kurt Tucholsky's famous words: "Gepriesen seien die Menschen die nichts zu sagen haben und dennoch den Mund halten. (Praised be those people who have nothing to say and keep their mouths shut in spite of this.)”—And guess what! Ever since inauguration day in January 2017, hardly a day goes by that my husband and I don't remind each other that this guy would have made so much better a President than what we have now in the White House.

UPDATE April 29, 2018:

While reading this book, I kept thinking: ‘The idiocy and lunacy of this President and the nasty battles between the different alliance groups in the White House can’t get any worse.’ only to find out on the next pages that they did get worse.

Re our President’s ethics and morals, you’ll find nothing more telling than the following excerpt:

“Trump liked to say that one of the things that made life worth living was getting your friends’ wives into bed. In pursuing a friend’s wife, he would try to persuade the wife that her husband was perhaps not what she thought. Then he’d have his secretary ask the friend into his office; once the friend arrived, Trump would engage in what was, for him, more or less constant sexual banter. ‘Do you still like having sex with your wife? How often? You must have had a better fuck than your wife? Tell me about it. I have girls coming in from Los Angeles at three o’clock. We can go upstairs and have a great time. I promise …’ And all the while, Trump would have his friend’s wife on the speakerphone listening in.”

Re our President’s and his family members’ ethics and intelligence, you will probably find this following excerpt of Bannon’s account of the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians enlightening:

“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower, in the conference room on the twenty-fifth floor—with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately. Even if you didn’t think to do that, and you’re totally amoral, and you wanted that information, you do it in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people and go through everything and then they verbally come and tell another lawyer in a cut-out, and if you’ve got something, then you figure out how to dump it down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication. You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to. … But that’s the brain trust that they had.”

No further comment.

There is this old saying: “America is the land of unlimited possibilities. Here a dishwasher can become President.” Well, I don’t know of any dishwasher ever having become President of the United States. However, we can safely say now: “America is the land of unlimited possibilities. Here an incompetent, illiterate, ill-tempered, immoral, imbecile can become President.” However, if he’ll be able to stay President, remains to be seen.

P.S. Let’s not give up. We, The People, can still speak up. We, The People, can still vote. We, The People, can still march in protest, call our representatives in Congress, and do whatever else citizens of a democracy can legally do. Please note that I say “still”. Once our democracy will have been destroyed and replaced with an evil dictatorship, it will be too late.—I urge everyone to read the above book, just as I urge everyone to read “The Making of Donald Trump”, by David Cay Johnston, and “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons of the Twentieth Century”, by Timothy Snyder.

UPDATE February 24, 2019:

Please also read "It's Even Worse Than You Think", by David Cay Johnston, and "Everything Trump Touches Dies", by Republican (!) strategist Rick Wilson.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,186 reviews1,098 followers
January 12, 2018
An ok read but I feel this is a book that has been hugely hyped by the media and certainly not the explosive read it has been labelled.

This book has been described as an explosive and shocking insight into life within the White House since Donald Trump became Presisent of the United States. I wanted to read this book as Ireland has a close and important relationship with America and decisions made in the While House not only affect the United States and its citizens but the rest of the World with it being one of the most influential and powerful countries in the World.
I didn't find this a particulary explosive or shocking read, if you have been following the news or media reports on the the Trump Administratin in the White House over the past year then I think you will find that this isn't a very shocking or revealing book but just an account of the bizarre Trump Adminstration and the people surrounding the Man of the Moment.

I think the media have hyped this book into a frenzy and while its interesting and certainly describes in political detail a year of the President and his family in the White House it isn't a book I would recommend as it rambles on quite a bit (just like some of Trump's speeches )and after about 2/3 of the way through the book it becomes repetitive and slow moving and to be honest a little boring.

I listened to this on audio and have to say I wouldn't recommend the audio version as the narrator speaks way too fast and I found myself having difficulty keeping up with him.
I don't subscribe to Face book and follow very little social media but I do catch the news on a daily basis and find that Mr Trump seems to appear even on the Irish News channels almost daily and not always in a favorable light.
There is a Speech made by the President at an event early on in the book that really had me in stitches and for this alone the book was nearly worth the read. Having said that its not a fun time in America and my sympathies lie with so many Americans who didn't sign up for this.

I think this is a book if you really want to read then don't waste your hard earned money on it, support your library and borrow it or perhaps the best advice would be to avoid it altogether.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,688 followers
January 8, 2018
"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."
- Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V, 5


Presidential books are tricky things. Their sources, often D.C. professionals, use them to push agendas, knife enemies, or frame recent history in a way that makes them or their side look positive. The problem is Trump is surrounded by few if any competent professionals (especially during the first couple hundred days). While Michael Wolff is no The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama in his care and craft, he did happen to crawl into a White House (mainly pre-Kelly) that was unaware, or unprepared, for a bottom feeder like Michael Wolff. He wasn't a "wolf" in sheep's clothing in the White House, he was just a mutt willing to pick up everything that was dropped off the table, and there were plenty of scraps.

It reminds me a bit of Michael Hastings relationship with General McCrystal and his staff. Hanging around reporters and journalists is mostly a dangerous thing, especially if you are in politics. You often forget the guy next to you having beers is there doing a job that might not be in your best interest. You relax, and they smile, and they record everything you say. They aren't your friend. They are writing a story. They want juice. They aren't playing.

For style and accuracy, this book probably deserves 3-stars. It was written fast and loose. But for impact and balls, this book probably deserves 5-stars. I can't think of an equal to it that has come out in the first year of any president. But like everything with Trump, it will be consumed by the next crazy thing Trump tweets, or the next insult he throws, or DEAR GOD NO, the war he starts. Trump in the 21st century survives despite this type of book because there is always more and we have scarely enough time to deal with nuances of this week's crazy when the next crazy train pulls into the station.

Nobody in this book comes across very well. Most are accidental players (it often feels like the PRESIDENT is an accidental player), some are there because they really do think SOMEONE has to be there doing a job (but they keep enabling the crazy behavior of the President), some are family, and some are just opportunists. This is a group that is, by design and temperment, bound to eat each other. Michael Wolff just cooked the meal.

Bannon likes to reference Shakespeare (often when talking about Jared and Ivanka), and how things are not going to end well with the Trump administration. At the end of the Book, Wolff quoted Bannon that "it all threatened to make Shakespeare loo like Dr. Suess". One should note that Bannon's favorite Shakespeare play is Titus Andronicus. That Shakespeare play ended with canibalism. I think Bannon might be on to something. It appears the feast at the White House is just beginning.
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
568 reviews716 followers
February 14, 2020
Oh dear how do I even go about reviewing this book. I know politics is something we all get fired up about so I just want to say that anything I say is my own personal opinion and I'm totally open to alternative perspectives if someone wants to respond in the comments, but if you're just going to call me a libcuck or whatever don't bother. I was actually pretty excited to read this and put a hold on it over on my library through overdrive and even though I have a huge pile of work, I decided to just spend hours reading it because my turn to have it came up. Of all the books that have been written so far this year about the presidency, this one elicited the most ire and strongest reaction from our president and of course I really just wanted to see what the big deal was.

And honestly I have to say that I'm a little disappointed after reading it. The administrations reaction to the book made me think there was some new shocking revelation in the book but really it just confirms all the other reports we have been seeing about the white house anyways. The only new thing that seemed to come out of this book was the idea of using the 25th amendment to get rid of Trump, and this was brought up multiple times by Bannon, which just makes it feel like Bannon's own maneuvering to help put that idea out there honestly. Like no one was really talking about that before the book came out so like good one Steve.

The rest of it though, the constant disarray and lack of cohesive strategy is pretty clear to anyone who keeps tabs on politics. There are really only a few things in the book that seem ridiculous and like Wolff was exaggerating like Trump's fear of being poisoned, or when he tries to lay out people's intentions and ambitions. Wolff clearly can't read people's minds so he cant tell us those things with certainty and I'd take it all with a grain of salt. The whole thing corroborates what has been leaking for months, even the fact that things have been leaking from higher up for months. If anything good has come out of this book it's that I see less of Steve Bannon now that he's been dumped by Donald for running his mouth through out the book.

It does seem that Steve may have done that on purpose and that he seems to think that he's more powerful than Trump, and so he doesn't care that he's out on his own. I just think that Trump and Bannon are both being self centered in thinking they have some magically understanding that gives them credit with the people voting for Trump. It really just seems to me like most people are sick of the government and were trying to get someone new in because they are dissatisfied with how things are going which is the larger feeling that gets people like Trump elected. It's the same thing underpinning the tea party and people who elected Obama, like a lot of people just don't like how our government is being run and want someone new to come in and try harder. I know there are differences in exactly how people think that should be done policy wise but it does seem like people are much more flexible on that side of things, like the freedom caucus has basically fallen in line with Trump right, so much for all the deficit nagging.

The whole situation is just ridiculous honestly, like why does Trump have such a burning need to be liked when he's literally in the highest office in the country. Also why does the media then turn around and indulge him in it. Honestly the amount of outrage and emotion being directed at Trump just saying dumb things seems like a waste of time when we all know he doesn't have anything to back up his talk. We should really be paying attention to what's actually happening on the policy side because I don't think the people who voted for him would be happy about any of the actions that have been going through congress while Donald runs around tweeting about little rocket man. Trump ran on a rather leftist style platform and no one is going to approve of the things they're doing to things like the FCC or the tax cut.

So while this book is amusing and just confirms the disaster this administration is and the rampant delusion running amok, it really again doesn't do much about the problems were going to be left with after he's gone. If you just want to be amused about how crazy it all is totally go ahead and pick it up but it really doesn't shed any new light on things. It's just another frustrating book highlighting the fact that this inane bullshit is taking away people's energy to focus on all the actual things he's fucking up like appointing so many young right wing judges to federal court or deporting people mindlessly.
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,056 reviews1,856 followers
March 4, 2018
In the days following, that highest political state of being "in the room" was turned on its head. NOT being in the room - in this case, the forward cabin on Air Force One - became an exalted status and get-out-of-jail-free card. "It used to hurt my feelings when I saw them running around doing things that were my job," said Spicer. "Now I'm glad to be out of the loop."

OKAY. Well. I didn't know what to expect going into this book. Perhaps I would be filled with ire that Wolff was slandering people without notes, sources, an index... Perhaps I would find out some huge, juicy gossip about Trump I never knew before... Perhaps I would be bored. However, nothing prepared me for the real, shocking truth.

Michael Wolff can't write for shit.

Yeah. Yeah. That's the main thing I have to say about this book. Who the fuck published this?!?!!? I understand that it was rushed to press, but that was only four days. This looks like it never met an editor, much less a spellcheck.

I am not talking about "this book is shit" because I am a Trump supporter (of course I'm not), because I think Wolff is lying (I don't), or because I'm mad he didn't have notes, cite sources, or provide evidence for what he's saying. I'm talking about Michael Wolff's inability to form a good paragraph, much less a coherent sentence.

It is atrocious. I was aghast. It is heart-stopping, this shit-writing. I could give you thousands of examples, since there are at LEAST three horrible sentences per page, but I'll try to limit it to a few.

These challenges have included dealing with off-the-record or deep-background material that was later casually put on the record; sources who provided accounts in confidence and subsequently shared them widely, as though liberated by their first utterances; a frequent inattention to setting any parameters on the use of a conversation; a source's views being so well known and widely shared that it would be risible not to credit them; and the almost samizdat sharing, or gobsmacked retelling, of otherwise private and deep-background conversations.

Just look at this sentence. Just look at it. *sips coffee* I'll wait.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post, which had become one of the many Trump media bêtes noires in the media world, nevertheless took pains to reach out not only to the president-elect but to his daughter Ivanka.


By default, everybody had to look to the voluble, aphoristic, shambolic, witty, off-the-cuff figure who was both ever present on the premises and who had, in an unlikely attribute, read a book or two.

Are you even kidding me with this shit?

Having known every president since Harry Truman - as Murdoch took frequent opportunities to point out - and, he conjectured, as many heads of state as anyone living, Murdoch believed he understood better than younger men, even seventy-year-old Trump, that political power was fleeting.

That is one of the most fucked-up sentences I've ever read. Par for the course in this book.

Bannon's mission was to puncture the global-liberal-emperor-wears-no-clothes bubble, nowhere, in his view, as ludicrously demonstrated as the refusal to see the colossally difficult and costly effects of uncontrolled immigration.


By the time he arrived in the White House, Bannon had his back-of-the-envelope executive order on immigration and his travel ban, a sweeping, Trumpian exclusion of most Muslims from the United States, only begrudgingly whittled down, in part at Priebus's urging, to what would shortly be perceived as merely draconian.

Are you TRYING to write like shit, Wolff? Just level with me here. This is on purpose, right?

Kushner, going concave, retreated from the discussion.

Kushner, going concave. GOING CONCAVE. You know, as people do. >.<

As an insider, a staffer, not only could his experience be challenged, but while the president himself might not yet be exposed, a family member on staff would be where enemies and critics might quite effectively start chipping from.

This book is making me stabby.

Both Jared and Ivanka listened to his advice - from among others it came from Jared's brother, Josh, doubly making this case not only to protect his brother but also because of his antipathy to Trump - but both, balancing risk against reward, ignored it.

Sometimes I had to read Wolff's sentences two or three times in order to parse a meaning out of them. It's fucked-up.

Jared Kushner in quite a short period of time - rather less than a year - had crossed over from the standard Democratic view in which he was raised, to an acolyte of Trumpism, bewildering many friends and, as well, his own brother, whose insurance company, Oscar, funded with Kushner-family money, was destined to be shattered by a repeal of Obamacare.

Is this a sentence? A paragraph? A monstrosity? All of the above?

The fabulous, incomprehensible irony that the Trump family had, despite the media's distaste, despite everything the media knows and understands and has said about them, risen to a level not only of ultimate consequence but even of immorality is beyond worst-case nightmare and into cosmic-joke territory.

Shit writing.

But before moving on to the next episode of ohmygodness, it is worth considering the possibility that this constant, daily, often more than once-a-day, pileup of events - each one canceling out the one before - is the true aberration and novelty at the heart of the Trump presidency.


Okay, I think that gives you an idea. I had no idea it was possible to go on a random tangent in the middle of a sentence until I read this book. o.O Wolff also has an awful habit of making lists. Tons of his sentences just contain long lists. He never uses one adjective when he can use five. It's very annoying.

As a result of this sloppy, poor, crappy writing that honestly should never have gotten published in good conscience (not because of the content! Writing style/grammar/typos is all I'm talking about) it is difficult to wade through. And painful. Reading this book is difficult and painful. I almost weep thinking about how much money Wolff made off this shit.

Next, let's address cease-and-desist orders. What on Earth was Trump or the White House or whomever worried about here? There is nothing new in here. I am here to tell you that you do not have to read this book. Just read the New York Times every day like I do. You will already know everything in this book.

In case you are thinking there is some SHOCKING, AMAZING, JUICY revelation in here about Trump.... there isn't. Okay, there. I saved you. And you probably already know the funniest/scariest things in the book are Trump's own words, which are public record and have already been released/consumed publicly.

And if you are looking for funny Trump stories, there are about three, and they were all discussed in every single interview with TV, radio, or newspaper that covered Wolff or his book. So you know all that anyway. It's equivalent of putting all the funny bits of a comedy film in the trailer.

Now, let's talk about if it is an enjoyable read. This would be a very enjoyable read, in a guilty pleasure sort of way. You get to see the inner workings of a White House run by an out-of-control four-year-old and the insane attempts of the people around him to rein him in / put out fires every day (hour? minute?). For anyone who hates Trump, fears Trump, has been living in a state of low-level but constant anxiety and fear since he took office, this could seem like a fun, guilty, horror/comedy that you can enjoy.

However, as I mentioned earlier, this is greatly, GREATLY lessened by Wolff's horrible, sloppy writing. His atrocious writing makes this a slog and a chore to get through. It's not breezy. It's not cohesive. It's barely comprehensible most of the time.

For the record, Wolff shows contempt for Obama and Clinton (the male one) in this book, too. He's not someone who bashes Trump but praises other politicians. I mean, everyone looks good compared to Trump, but Wolff has no special love for Obama or Clinton (male or female) that shines through while reading this. It's not some blind I-hate-Trump,-bring-back-Obama ranting.

Also, I want to say I believe everything in this book. That's not a statement on Haley, he specifically did not accuse Haley of having sex with Trump in this book, he just ran his mouth off later. But some people say the contents of this book are just made up. I disagree. I think Wolff is telling the truth. *shrug*

People keep going on and on about receipts. Where is his index? Sources? Citations? Notes? Tapes? etc. etc. etc. etc. But for me, reading this is much like reading MY UNCLE THINKS HE IS A POTTED PLANT, or STORIES OF MY ABUSIVE MOTHER or whatever. Those books don't have sources or indexes or citations. It's more like someone writing a memoir than what I would call 'research-based non-fiction.' It's a gossipy memoir. I think people who think this book is going to bring down the current administration are a bit delusional. It's a 'fun' (not really, due to Wolff's inability to write), gossipy, salacious tell-all kind of thing. Not Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War. Ya know what I'm sayin'?

What else? Is there anything else I need to cover? Wolff DOES make some excellent points. There are times he illuminates Trump's psychology and it's radiant. Even in the bog of his crap-writing, this beams through. Perhaps about four times, I was like, "Oh, THAT'S why so-and-so or this-and-this. It makes perfect sense now!" So there are those gems of information buried in the swamp. But I don't know if I would tell you that reading the book is worth it.

Lastly, the point of this book is surprisingly not about Trump at all. It is about Bannon. Evil, evil Bannon and his plot to take over America. The book ends on a super-dark note with Bannon plotting to run for president and rule America and make everyone bend to his will. It's very horror-movie.

This is almost a psych-out on Wolff's part. Fool everyone into thinking they are going to buy and read about book about evil, evil Trump when really it is a book about evil, evil Bannon. Mwahahahahahahaha! Actually, if you look at it that way, it really is quite masterful on Wolff's part.

If only the writing were better.

TL;DR I want to make this clear: this had the potential to be a five-star book. With some brilliant writing, this could have been both riveting and informative. However, Wolff couldn't write himself out of a paper bag if I gave him a flashlight and a pen. I'm not exaggerating when I say I was aghast - (pearl-clutchingly) aghast - at the writing in this book. It's abysmal. Perhaps the biggest fuck-you an author can give to his/her readers. If we didn't live in a world with Trump's America, this book wouldn't have even made a blip. Not because it wouldn't have been about a sitting president... but because it's such crap. Imagine an author writing a book about, say, [insert president here] while that president was in the White House, composed of stuff that everyone already knew because it was in the papers, by an author who would get an F on a term paper. Well, maybe a D. It would flop. Who would give a fuck?

The book is also extremely 'of the moment.' It will quickly be irrelevant, it's already out-of-date and behind. It'll be useless and of no interest in about six months. Actually, it's pretty much useless and of no interest NOW. Things move so fast, there's news every day, there are huge changes and upheavals in the White House every single day... this book is already old hat. And it was published two months ago.

My advice: Skip this, read the NYTimes every day. If you think the book has some depraved information about Trump you just MUST KNOW, listen to a journalist review it or read a review in a respected newspaper or intellectual magazine. *shrug* That's all there is to it, there's nothing really here.

INITIAL REVIEW: February 2018
So I hear that Wolff is getting spanked now for insinuating that Trump is having an affair with Haley. He has also been acting like a complete child and not like an adult man. He seems unable to take responsibility for his actions and words.

It'll be interesting to see where this goes.

Meanwhile, perhaps I will give this book a shot. - February-something, 2018
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