I’ll be honest, I mostly read this book because I like to know what everyone is talking about (even if, because I waited to get it out of the library, no one is really talking about this book any more). I was actually going to let myself off the hook and not read all of it if it wasn’t that interesting, but it turned out to be a pretty fast read.

I’m not necessarily saying that Wolff’s book (Fire and Fury) is wrong or bad, but I liked Woodward’s book better. It’s less over the top, although as you might expect for any book about Trump, there’s still plenty here that feels over the top. I guess I also feel like, it’s Bob Woodward, so there’s an air of authority that isn’t necessarily there with Wolff.  I mean, I’m not a Trump supporter, and I think if you are you may find most of the book hard to swallow, but I actually found it to be pretty balanced.

For example, I was rather surprised to read about Trump’s conversations with the families of soldiers who had been killed:

A staffer who sat in on several calls that Trump made to Gold Star families was struck with how much time and emotional energy Trump devoted to them. He had a copy of material from the deceased service member’s personnel file.

“I’m looking at his picture–such a beautiful boy,” Trump said in one call to family members. Where did he grow up? Where did he go to school? Why did he join the service?

“I’ve got the record here,” Trump said. “There are reports here that say how much he was loved. He was a great leader.”

Some in the Oval Office had copies of the service records. None of what Trump cited was there. He was just making it up. He knew what the families wanted to hear.

Considering one of the scandals of the campaign was Trump’s treatment of the Khan family, I was surprised to read this. But slightly heartened? I mean, this may be the only thing Trump has done that I agree with…

If you’re just interested in reading this book for the juicy bits, you don’t need to. I think most of the content of this book has been pretty out in the media or in other books. I wasn’t really surprised by anything. I’m impressed Mattis has been able to keep his head down and disagree so much with Trump but remain in the administration. I feel kind of bad for Priebus (“For Priebus, it was the worst meeting among many terrible ones.”) but not like, that bad. Bannon doesn’t feature too heavily in this book (unlike Wolff’s), so it was interesting to hear more about what other advisors were getting up to.

I also kind of forgot that obviously this book would end significantly in the past; it really only covers through March 2018. In a world where EVERY DAY is crazy, March is a REALLY long time ago.

I did get a strong sense that John Dowd (Trump’s former personal counsel) really believes there was no collusion between Trump and Russia, which is certainly interesting. There’s some hedging, at the end Dowd wonders whether Muller has something he isn’t aware of, but I think the last 20 pages or so of the book dealing with Dowd’s handling of the investigation and with his resignation were the most interesting. Definitely left me wishing the book covered a few more months, I’m so curious about the relationship between Trump’s legal team and the Muller investigation over the last six months. Or maybe I’m not, I mean Rudy Giuliani is a pretty open book, I’m not sure if there are things he’s really keeping private?

Of course, the consolation for me, there will almost certainly be more books about the Trump administration that have EVERYONE talking. And I’ll probably read them. If you didn’t read Wolff, it might be worth picking this one up, but if you read the paper a lot, you’re not in for many surprises. And, every day you don’t read this book, it becomes less and less relevant.

Currently reading: Let Me Tell You (Shirley Jackson!!!) and Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture. I’m planning tor work in some more NK Jemisin soon, can’t have things get too depressing with the holidays coming up.