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

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  12,209 ratings  ·  1,436 reviews
The definitive insider narrative and the most fully characterised account yet of the chaos, scandal and destruction of Trump's first term, from two Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalists.

Drawing on nearly three years of reporting, hundreds of hours of interviews and more than two hundred sources, including some of the most senior members of the administration,
Kindle Edition, 480 pages
Published January 21st 2020 by Penguin Press
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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 mor…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)
Mike Zickar Yes, I felt like A Warning was so cautious because the author is concerned with not outing himself or herself. This book, even though sources are not …moreYes, I felt like A Warning was so cautious because the author is concerned with not outing himself or herself. This book, even though sources are not generally named, is much more in depth, and is clear that they interviewed Kirstjen Nielsen and several other once-close confidantes for the book and so there is a lot of detail related to immigration and homeland security. (less)

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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 psychologic ...more

September 11, 2020:
‘Fortunate Son,’ Donald Trump’s Hype Song At Rally, Ironically Slams Rich Draft Dodgers

John Fogerty wrote the 1969 protest anthem for his band Creedence Clearwater Revival, calling out class differences that allowed the privileged to avoid the Vietnam War while the less fortunate could not.


September 6, 2020:
Multiple boats sink in Texas lake at pro-Trump water parade

Water-borne parades of Trump supporters have taken place across the US this summer from New Jer
Jill Meyer
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 Sta
Bill Kerwin
Mar 01, 2020 rated it liked it

This best-seller—which documents how the Trump presidency gradually lost its guard rails—somehow failed to sell itself with me. Sure, I’d recommend it to anybody who’s been in a coma for the last three years, but not to any one like me, who keeps up with the news and has taken note of each fresh horror perpetrated by Generalissimo Trumpo. I discovered few new facts here, fewer insights, and—since it is written in a depersonalized journalistic style that strives above all for objectivity—I derive
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good dystopian novel requires building a future world with just enough recognizable elements to lend credibility to an otherwise unknown future. A good dystopian novel also requires setting a context so that readers can understand just how this future world occurs.

Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig’s A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America fails at these tasks. The fictional dystopia portrayed by Rucker and Leonnig strains and eventually breaks credibility. Only the most uninfo
Roy Lotz
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
‘It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,’ Trump told the group. ‘We’re going to change that.’

The Trump book has quickly become its own genre. First, there are the many handwringing analyses of what went wrong—economic pain, journalistic negligence, polarized politics, cultural malaise—which is probably the most intellectually valuable of the lot. But the juicier stuff is to be found in the tell-alls of those fired by Trump: John Bolt
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have decided to embark on a mission to read a number of books on subjects that will be of great importance to the upcoming 2020 US Presidential Election. Many of these will focus on actors intricately involved in the process, in hopes that I can understand them better and, perhaps, educate others with the power to cast a ballot. I am, as always, open to serious recommendations from anyone who has a book I might like to include in the process.

This is Book #15 in my 2020 US Election Preparation
Bryson Carrier
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't intended to read this book. I'd already read 'Fire and Fury' and 'Fear' and had rather come to the conclusion that reading any book focused on the one I prefer referring to as 'The Thing' would be an exercise in reading about A Black Hole.

~ and how much can you learn when reading about a black hole? Apparently next to nothing. In this particular case, you can of course 'learn' about the perfection of its darkness, the depth of its blackness as it consumes everything that brushes its pa
Sandra Ostermeier
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
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. ...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’
Jeff J.
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.
Yet another tell-all book about the Trump administration. This time from 2 well respected Washington Post reporters. It starts with Trump accepting the Republican nomination for President in 2016 with the words “I alone can fix it”, and ends after that disastrous July 25, 2019 phone call to the newly elected President of Ukraine, and all its repercussions. In between, the book chronicles the shit storm commonly known as the Trump Administration. From the beginning, it is incompetence
Kassandra ter Beek
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 h
Donald Hardy
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 Amer ...more
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a few books on this era over the past three years, this may be the best one. It does not try to cover every single controversy, if so then it would be over a 1,000 pages. I like that it does cover some of the incidents that did not receive alot of news coverage at the time. Lastly, this book does a great job of actually letting the reader experience the Mueller investigation from the Mueller team's point of view, which has mostly been kept under wraps. ...more
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 Loyalt
Mike Cuthbert
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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” mean ...more
Jarrod Dillon
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing

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 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
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A delightful little tale of a more innocent time when we still had some hope.

Seriously, I was impressed with the timeline, if nothing else. I respect Philip Tucker a great deal. He and co-author Leonnig used fact based reporting skills, and kept partisan/biased language to a minimum.
Jim Dooley
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 t
Mary Ann
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 t
Michael Lynch
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
Sarah Miers
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading

If you want to know how we got here -- you need to read this book. It is truly epic.
Andrew Shaffer
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Nothing new here, but I’m surprised how much of the past four years I’ve just blanked from my mind.
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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. ...more

Articles featuring this book

We're halfway through the year that time forgot! Ahem...I mean, 2020. Believe it or not, it's June. Traditionally, this is when the...
184 likes · 171 comments
“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.” —” 7 likes
“Trump’s friends and advisers had long observed that he had an amazing ability to disconnect from facts and remember experiences the way it suited him at the moment, a dangerous habit when being interviewed by federal prosecutors in a criminal investigation.” 3 likes
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