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BOOK REVIEW: "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" by Michael Wolff

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BOOK REVIEW: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff (Henry Holt and Co.) 2018

The relationship between the press and the president has always been strained.

One cannot survive without the other, yet that does not deter from the strain that each president must endure. With this presidency, however, the politics and the world surrounding it have forever changed.

The public can be misinformed and we may develop ideas of grandeur or failure by the assumptions we make. It’s only when the curtains behind an image are drawn back that we can see the full picture.

This is where journalist Michael Wolff finds himself.

Released on January 5, 2018, Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, has become an overnight best-seller on all major book retailers.

Before it hit bookshelves across the world, excerpts of the novel were leaked out to the press and ultimately to the President of the United States. Needless to say, President Trump was not pleased by the portrayal in the novel.

President Trump wrote on Twitter about the novel, “I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!”

"Sloppy Steve", of course, is referring to Steve Bannon who left the White House administration in 2017.

Wolff is a fly on the wall of the Trump presidency and serves as a lesson for the untrained eye as to what is on the record and what is not. Throughout the novel, Wolff references many private meetings in which he was allowed into as a member of the press. Wolff was never told that something was off the record and was often disregarded by people in the cabinet as he put it, “that pesky writer who’ll never leave.”

This novel is a detailed look at the Trump White House. All the grandeurs and glories are held up next to the cracks and crumbles of an establishment not sure of itself.

Let me put it this way, this is by no means a love letter to the current administration. Like the light of a seedy motel, the light has been turned on and the cockroaches are fleeing into their cracks and crevices.

Wolff focuses on the relationships between the president and anyone who comes into contact with him on a daily basis. It would be easy for any writer to only cover the things that were covered in the news.

Instead, Wolff takes it a step further and writes about President Trump’s daily routine as well as his mentality towards others not close to him.

When someone thinks of a president, whether one likes the man or not, there is a mutual level of respect between the two. It is safe to assume that the President in question is in the oval office attempting to make the United States a better place than when he was there. Though these men are human, we often regard them as having the best intentions for those around him.

What happens when the most powerful person in the free world focuses only on their own self-image and is surrounded by people who doubt him on a daily basis?

This is the life of President Donald Trump as Michael Wolff saw it during his six-month stay in the White House.

In an excerpt from Fire and Fury, Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s daughter, was recorded saying to her friends that her father, “is a joke of a man.” Regarding his comb-over hairstyle are laughably bad and how, “he’s so vain that it’s sad.”

As if this weren’t bad enough, Wolff caught a conversation between Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner discussing what would be the best course for them to run for the presidency. According the novel, “Ivanka concluded that it would be better for her to run for President after her father leaves office and then it would be Kushner’s turn.

Wolff tells the audience that the nature most of the conversations towards the president were talking about the long-run of his term. They were conducted as though his presidency was one which would not see its natural end.

What the author has done is something which no other president biographer has been able to do: he’s been able to get people within the administration to go on the record.

Other biographers have been able to only find people talking in hindsight long after the president has left the office.

According to the novel, the air of the White House is filled with doubt and resentment. People like Rex Tillerson and Steve Bannon are repeatedly calling the President of the United States “incompetent, impossible, and unable to focus on the little things.”

The way Wolff describes President Trump is less like an elected official and more like a child who has never been told the word "no."

Wolff describes the day of the president. At 11 a.m., the President arrives from his separate bedroom from his wife Melania and joins the rest of his cabinet in the Oval office.

The time between 5 a.m. to the time he leaves for his job has been referred to as, “Executive Time.”

From this time, he works from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The remainder of his time is spent in his bedroom with three different television screens, a few cheeseburgers and a phone in which he can call and tweet people from the comfort between the sheets.

When reading the novel, you cannot help but get a sense of depravity. It feels as though President Trump didn’t want to be the president in the first place. Wolff, of course, provides an example of this behavior.

In one of the later chapters, Wolff describes the atmosphere at Trump Tower the night he was elected. Instead of cheers of victory, there were sobs of a defeat yet to be said.

“Trump’s face went from shock and awe to a look as though he had lost everything,” Wolff writes. “This was no match for Melania. She was crying but it wasn’t out of happiness.”

His depiction of a strained family life only fails in comparison to those who have worked alongside him.

The thing that fascinated me most of all were the repeated mentions of Trump’s cabinet going over the stipulations of the 25th amendment.

The 25th Amendment refers to the succession of the presidency if he is to die, leave, or be removed from office.

Not only was Trump’s cabinet talking about the amendment, so was Trump himself.

One of the things which perplexes me as a journalist is Wolff’s inability to produce the tapes of his conversations which he has spoken about on various talk shows. If these things are said, put them up so that the American public can decide for themselves.

Assuming the things in this book are true, we must provide evidence to back the truth up.

As the world embraces the new year to come, we cannot help but wonder what the days ahead look like for the United States. If we’re as honest and open as this book is, perhaps we still have a shot at making it out of this. 

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About the Author

Brandon King

Brandon King is a journalism student at OCCC, working towards becoming a professional writer....

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