It cost around $21 from the Barnes and Noble in Storrs Center and it was honestly one of the weirdest things I’ve read in my 22 years.
“Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff gives a summary about what occurred inside the Trump administration from the time right before the elections to the ousting of Senior advisor Steve Bannon. To put into context how crazy this book is, my editor asked “who wants to touch that ‘Trump’ book?” I have a lot of thoughts on the book and the statements presented in it, but a word from Wolff on the administration also accurately sums up my thoughts on the book: “clusterf*ck.”
Before diving into the book, I think it’s relevant to delve a little bit into the author. Michael Wolff is an author, reporter and essayist who has contributed to such publications as GQ, USA Today and the Hollywood Reporter. “Fire and Fury” is not Wolff’s first book - he previously published “Burn Rate” about his online media company and, “The Man Who Owns the News” about noted right-wing business mogul Rupert Murdoch. All of that information, however, is not the important overall. What is important is Wolff’s relationship with the truth. More than once Wolff has been accused of making up quotes from sources and stretching the truth in stories. Additionally, people have accused Wolff as only being concerned with “page view” rather than ethics. With Wolff’s spotty record, it’s important to take everything he writes with a grain of salt.
The book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the craziness of the Trump administration in its first eight to nine months. It’s mostly told through quotes and statements from unknown administration employees that are mostly verified through statements from ex-chief strategist Steve Bannon.
It’s not really worth it to descend into the specific details of the book mainly because of spoilers but also because there aren’t really any spoilers in general. Everything that goes down in the book, we saw in a watered-down capacity throughout the year. We saw the administration deal with healthcare and the start of the Russian investigation. Through leaked statements we saw how many times Trump waffled around firing former FBI director James Comey before he eventually did. And we saw how many people have left the administration since its inception, around 20 top people for those keeping track.
What really got to me while reading the book was how dis-unified the entire White House is, at least, according to Wolff. Throughout the first six months there were almost three factions vying for power in the administration and more specifically for Trump’s approval. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were representing the business community, Reince Preibus was representing the traditional Republican agenda and Steve Bannon was representing the Tea Party. But none of them really seemed concerned with representing their side in order to help the country. They were all thinking about what they were going to do when Trump was done. The future and who controlled Trump was all that mattered.
And all Trump seems to care about is how his image was affected. Trump, at least how Wolff portrayed him, seemed to know and care very little about what the office of president actually represented.
Giving this book an official score is very hard. For one thing, most of the statements can’t really be verified. No current administrator is going to come out say that Trump was definitely wrong about something. Trump is definitely not going to say anything. And Bannon seems to be keeping a fairly low profile overall. The book isn’t non-partisan either. It skews very much to the wild, anti-Trump side with the President and all of his staff being portrayed as complete idiots. Again, no way to actually grade if those statements are true.
I can, however, say that the writing style is not appropriate for such an important story. It’s written in a similar manner to what one might find in a grocery store checkout line tabloid. It’s very he said, she said without any solid fact-checking. To an extent, it’s like a message board for anonymous Trump officials to tell all their problems. It’s kind of an interesting read until you remember it’s about our dear leader. All in all, a weird, clusterf*ck of a story.