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A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  4,127 ratings  ·  439 reviews
Rucker and Leonnig have deep and unmatched sources throughout Washington, D.C., and for the past three years have chronicled in depth the ways President Donald Trump has reinvented the presidency in his own image, shaken foreign alliances and tested American institutions. It would be all too easy to mistake Trump's first term for pure chaos. But Leonnig and Rucker show ...more
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Published January 21st 2020 by Penguin Audio
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Brandon Dannemiller It does not cover any new events that the media haven't already touched on but since the book is based on first-person interviews it offers a much…moreIt does not cover any new events that the media haven't already touched on but since the book is based on first-person interviews it offers a much more detailed accounting of conversations and how staffers personally felt during the events.(less)
Sherri I read Fear. There really isn't new information in this book. The only really new information was released prior to publication.…moreI read Fear. There really isn't new information in this book. The only really new information was released prior to publication. (less)
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Jill Meyer
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The latest Donald Trump expose published today is “A Very Stable Genius”, by Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig. They’re part of a political reporting team at the Post that has won a Pulitzer Prize and Leonnig has won two Pulitzer prizes on her own. Both appear frequently on MSNBC and are acknowledged as excellent reporters. I’m putting in the authors’ bona fides to establish their credentials in writing a tell-all book on Trump and his administration.

The title “A Very
For me, the past three years or so, during Donald Trump’s so-called leadership, have been hellish, but also hellishly blurry. I recall reading somewhere White House strategist Steve Bannon remarking that his war against the media (his term) was to “flood the gates with bullshit” so that the real agenda could squeak through. Noam Chomsky has made a similar point, arguing that, whether consciously or not, the Trump administration uses the cover of their commander in chief’s tweets to slip by truly ...more
Elizabeth George
This book chronicles Donald Trump's pathway to the Presidency, from the moment he rode down the escalator to announce his candidacy to the revelation of the phone call he made to the president of the Ukraine. It is co-written by two NY Times reporters who are winners of multiple Pulitzer Prizes for journalism. It includes 15 pages of notes at the end as well as hundreds of quoted assessments of the Trump Presidency. It's a chilling depiction of what happens when a man--deeply damaged ...more
Bryson Carrier
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good review of some of the most significant and provocative aspects of the last 3 years of the Trump administration. The authors do a good job in providing a more complete picture of what's happening behind the scenes of this chaotic administration. It seems to me that most people who will be reading this book are voracious consumers of political news, so the vast majority of the material will be a review, though with more detail than was reported at the time. While some stories or viewpoints ...more
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 rating

Considering the material they had to work with, I applaud the authors for creating a book that wasn’t purely one-sided (though I couldn’t blame them if they had). I found this superior to Bob Woodward’s “Fear”, though to be fair, they have different premises.

It’s a book that left me shaking my head in disbelief (really, how could I still be shocked?) at the chaotic and craven behavior of this man known as “the leader of the free world”.

It’s worth your time to read the book. Again, I’
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yet another behind the scenes (if there's such thing as a scene) peek into the Trumpian Whitehouse, written to be the historical account the first two-ish years of DJT's clown car of cast members.

While it might lack the specificity Woodward's Fear or Michael Wolf's uncanny ability to articulate, contextualize and wax philosophical on Trump, the WaPo's "A Very Stable genius" is written to be the account of accounts, referencing other Trumplandia titles like "Fear," James Comey's "A Higher
Donald Hardy
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A reminder, for the most part although there are new revelations, of every hideous detail you wish weren't true of Trump's self-dealing, lying, bullying, delusional destruction of human norms of behavior in a democracy. There will be another nationalist, racist, divisive liar-president, no doubt, before long, even if Trump's idiocy catches up with him and he is voted out in 2020. He has given the world a crash course, detailed in A Very Stable Genius, in how to achieve near autocracy in the ...more
Sandra Ostermeier
Riveting and Horrifying

The writing is good. It is backed up by an extensive bibliography. The Kindle edition allows for easy use of the index that follows the narrative. And, it’s very easy to read — I was unable to put this book down, despite a roiling stomach and not a few panic attacks! Over the course of two days, in spurts and starts, I read about a President who has pushed the norms further and further from once accepted and honored American values and character. His followers and enablers
Kassandra ter Beek
Disclaimer: I have never supported Trump and cannot stand him for many reasons.

Of the books that I have read about the Trump administration, this one has been the best.

It does not make Trump out to be a villain in the presidency, but rather highlights the dangers of having somebody in that office who simply does not understand the office. It does a great job of describing the difficult job the administration has in gently guiding Trump through the many decisions he does not seem to understand
Mike Cuthbert
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most recent book about the Trump years, this is a monumental work by two Pulitzer Prize authors. It is necessary to point this out as this team has been reporting news and on newsmakers at a high level for some time. They are not bloggers or amateurs. Their work is a devastating portrait of a man totally out of his depth in his current job and even worse, abusive to others because of his ignorance. Note I used the word “ignorance.” That means “not knowing” while the other word, “stupid” ...more
Jeff J.
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nothing much new here, an account of the first few years of the Trump presidency. As is to be expected from a pair of Washington Post "journalists", the book is based on unnamed sources and highlights every fault that can be found with Donald Trump. Even the meager list of sources at the end is heavy on Washington Post diatribes. Someday someone will write a book that acknowledges the remarkable accomplishments of the Trump presidency and give him the credit that he is due.
Sarah Miers
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essential reading

If you want to know how we got here -- you need to read this book. It is truly epic.
Mary Ann
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review to follow.

So many of the contemporaneous accounts of current political events and societal trends are not worth spending time and money on. Many are self-serving collections of gossip, personal views, and conjecture, and few will stand the test of time. This one may be an exception, as was Woodward and Bernstein's All the President's Men. Rucker and Loennig are rock-solid reporters in the same mold as Woodard and Bernstein and adhere to rigorous journalistic ethics with regard
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One more pass at understanding the deep disfunction of the current diseased occupant of the White House. Perhaps the authors do detect an underlying coherent philosophy of government, that philosophy is both oozing at the core and frequently criminal. Just as we can't dismiss out of hand people who believe that commercial jets are dumping toxic chemicals on us, we have to accept that the dancing monkeys defending DumtyTrumpty really believe the silliness they dump on us. That hundreds of people ...more
this is a very compelling page-turner spiced with many ripping stories from clearly internal government sources, sadly however this is not fiction
Stephen Morrissey
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lust; Gluttony; Greed; Wrath; Heresy; Violence; Fraud; and Treachery: yes, these are the fiery circles of Dante's Hell, but they also speak to the parade of tortures endured by the living, specifically those living through, and serving under the 45th President.

Rucker and Leonig offer an immersive look into the Trump presidency, from the bumbling days of the transition through the public release of the Mueller Report, and, ironically, beginning of another interference in US presidential
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not interested in most of the Trump books but I decided to read this one because of the authors' credentials. They get their title from Trump himself who on several occasions, despite compelling evidence to the contrary, claims that moniker for himself. Much of the information is not new if you follow the news regularly, but what is valuable is seeing it all in one place and linked together.
Several points become absolutely clear: 1. Trump is a danger to the whole world; 2. He cares only for
Andrew Shaffer
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nothing new here, but I’m surprised how much of the past four years I’ve just blanked from my mind.
Angela Schlater
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. I commend these journalists for the fortitude it took to recreate the first three years of this administration. If I hadn’t lived through it. I wouldn’t have believed most of it. In fact, I’d forgotten a lot of it. I pray that democracy somehow survives this.
Michael Lynch
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of this is well-known information, some is not, but the complicating story is told in an engaging style. This book is destined to become a standard reference work for later more detailed histories of this period of American history. The authors' point out the book's one flaw in the beginning: the cascading events never seems to end, which gives the book a "one damned thing after another" feel. The reality, of course, is that it reads just as daily life unfolds in this era -- there is hardly ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2020
Factual, detailed and based on a wealth of insider interviews, this book, chronicling the Trump administration until summer 2019, is a worthy successor to Woodward's Fear, exhibiting a similar approach of being utterly damning while retaining objectivity.
Jarrod Dillon
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I know that this book has been portrayed as being against the president. After finishing it, I think that the authors did a fair job of just trying to re-create the many events that have happened in the last three years. They don’t take cheap shots. They just give you the facts. Definitely worth reading.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
They were very fair to the official story and didn't get into any conspiracies and even then concluded that his impact is devastating. Great read. Cover to cover in a few days. Real page turner even though we're living it.
Dan Graser
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"You're all losers. You don't know how to win anymore...I wouldn't go to war with you people, you're a bunch of dopes and babies."

Playground taunting? Twitterverse chatter? Drunken sports fan whining about their team? Nope, these are the words of an incompetent, militarily ignorant, privileged, draft-dodging ponce to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation's top military figures. That is, people who actually earned their rank as opposed to backing into it after more than half of the voting public
Jim Dooley
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A VERY STABLE GENIUS: DONALD J. TRUMP’S TESTING OF AMERICA is a very difficult book to review with any objectivity. Emotions predominate and defensive walls go up automatically. During his Inaugural Address, President Trump stated, “The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.” Yet, although it seems impossible to believe, the United States is more divided today than it was when those words were spoken.

The book gives an insider’s look at the Trump presidency from
Maine Colonial
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, audiobook
I don’t like to write reviews about political books. It too often ends up in comments that are all heat and no light. So I’ll keep this short.

The authors make the point at the beginning that there is such a constant stream of news coming out about Trump and his people that it’s impossible to have perspective or put things in context. That’s true. The news cycle is so fast that you can’t make sense of things or make connections between other events.

What Rucker and Leonnig do in this book is to
Tom Mathews
Anyone who has regularly followed the Washington Post will not find too much new material in this book but authors Rucker and Leonnig have researched, verified and presented the material in a way that it reads like a prosecutor's closing argument. Even recalling these events when they were first reported, hearing them recounted again one right after the other boggles the mind that one individual could treat the highest office in the world so cavalierly.
Jan 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a sucker for falling for the bombshell excerpts printed prior to the release of this book. And I am glutton of punishment for having to re-live scandal after scandal of this administration. But, on the upside, I am happy to support journalists.

Based upon the bombshell excerpts, I expected there would be more new information and details from this book. Nope. The only significant new information was released before the book was available. So, do not bother with this book if you wanted to
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the chronicle of the Trump presidency to date, as told by The Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig. The book is based on interviews with over 200 people willing to speak about the behind the scenes events that occurred from the beginning of the administration, up until the initial hearings on the impeachment of Trump.

There are so many crazy things that have happened during this period, but some of the highlights include the Mueller investigation, Michael Cohen and
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book. A heartbreaking book too. Yet another thorough recounting of the Trump presidency. The reporters are highly respected professionals, and they write well. Having followed this disaster of a president through his short political career, I am now well versed in the reality: Trump is incompetent, unintelligent, corrupt, and cruel, so this book doesn't provide tons of new ideas on that front. But it uncovers a few more wicked gems to the list of the President's disgraces, ...more
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Philip James Madelen Rucker is an American reporter and the White House Bureau Chief at The Washington Post, where he has been working since 2005. He currently covers the Trump administration for the Post, and has previously covered Donald Trump's successful 2016 presidential campaign and Mitt Romney's unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign.
“He’s ruined that magic,” this aide said of Trump. “The disdain he shows for our country’s foundation and its principles. The disregard he has for right and wrong. Your fist clenches. Your teeth grate. The hair goes up on the back of your neck. I have to remind myself I said an oath to a document in the National Archives. I swore to the Constitution. I didn’t swear an oath to this jackass.” As this aide saw it, there has been a silent understanding within the national security community that diplomatic, military, and intelligence officers were doing the right thing, quietly risking their lives to protect the American way of life. This aide saw Trump’s move against Brennan as one of the first steps of undercutting America’s democratic system of government and the belief system upon which it was founded. According to the aide, it was the president declaring, “It’s not okay to disagree with me. I can remove you from this work and your career. “If he wanted to, how far could he push this?” this aide asked. “Look back. Did people in the 1930s in Germany know when the government started to turn on them? Most Americans are more worried about who is going to win on America’s Got Talent and what the traffic is going to be like on I-95. They aren’t watching this closely. “I like to believe [Trump] is too self-engrossed, too incompetent and disorganized to get us to 1930,” this aide added. “But he has moved the bar. And another president that comes after him can move it a little farther. The time is coming. Our nation will be tested. Every nation is. Rome fell, remember. He is opening up vulnerabilities for this to happen. That is my fear.” —” 3 likes
“Trump’s personal lawyers, John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, recognized the dangers of letting their client sit down with prosecutors and how a man who had such difficulty sticking to the facts could carelessly walk into a perjury accusation.” 1 likes
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