Saturday, November 3, 2018

Review -- Fear: Trump in the White House

Fear: Trump in the White House
Another highly publicised book on US President Donald Trump, this one by the acclaimed journalist Bob Woodward, who is a great inspiration for countless journalists around the world.

Like similar books, many extracts appeared in the media before the book hit the stands. Everything in the book is about recent events. So if you have been keenly following the current developments, there isn't a lot you will find startling or new in this book.

What the book does provide though are a large number of anecdotes: conversations between the President and multiple White House advisers, high and low in the hierarchy. They all show how Trump is out of sync with what is generally believed is acceptable.

These anecdotes also reveal the sort of person Trump is: someone who is not only passionate about what he believes in but also determined to put to practice what he wants to do. Most of the official government policies are not thought-through, and stem out of Trump's personal beliefs, irrespective of whether they make sense in the political, diplomatic, economic or social sense.

He doesn't care whether others agree with him or not. What he thinks right is right. So we have many advisers countering Trump's suggestions with facts and figures. But that makes little impact on Trump, who just brushes them aside.

For example, one extract from the book:

"The president clung to an outdated view of America—locomotives, factories with huge smokestacks, workers busy on assembly lines. ... Several times (Former president of Goldman Sachs and the president's top economic advisor Gary) Cohn just asked the president, “Why do you have these views?” “I just do,” Trump replied. “I’ve had these views for 30 years.” “That doesn’t mean they’re right,” Cohn said. “I had the view for 15 years I could play professional football. It doesn’t mean I was right.”

While the author has done a lot of meticulous research to gather data -- just as a journalist would do -- this book only adds to the surfeit of anti-Trump lowdown we are already deluged with.

I really liked the book only because of the extensive research Bob has done to put this together, which will prove invaluable not now but many years later when Trump is history.

View all my reviews in Goodreads


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

It will be interesting reading the books and see how history turns out - I just hope we can achieve some sort of peace for all humanity ... all the best - Hilary

SG said...

Interesting book. I am not saying Mr. Trump is pure and honest. Mr. Woodward apparently writes this book without naming a single source. Many people have denied these statements ever happened.

John Kelly said he never said Trump is an idiot. Same way, James Mattis said he never said Trump has an understanding of a 5th grader. John Dowd said he never called Trump a liar. Nikki Haley said she never heard Trump proposed assassination of Assad.

Former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee said: Woodward has a history of using anonymous sources for his work and "hurriedly" trying to publish a book for media attention.

Everyone knows Mr. Woodward is always the left leaning liberal. Why publish this book at this time (when the mid terms are next week)?

indu chhibber said...

It amazes me how people with such immature,biased,misogynistic beliefs can climb so high.
In India too,so many ministers or legislators proclaim sheer nonsense.

B Pradeep Nair said...

Thanks for dropping by and for the comments. What you have said is very true. Actually, this is one flip side of democracy. Mere people's approval is not everything.

B Pradeep Nair said...

You have a point, Rajan. Proper attribution and sourcing are vital for the credibility of a story. That is something basic in journalism. However, there are instances when journalists don't reveal their sources when the information is more important. In such cases, the credibility of the story rides on the credibility of the journalist, which we all know is a matter of perception. So, not everyone believes such news stories.

I have heard in the multiple interviews that Woodward gave to US channels (prior to the release of the book) that he has the conversations with all his sources recorded and transcribed. According to him, he hasn't revealed them in the book considering the sensitive positions they are in right now. According to him, getting the information out is more important than revealing the source.

If one were to go back in time, after decades we all got to know who Deep Throat was. All the documents that Woodward and Bernstein used for their Watergate story are now with the University of Texas.
So, I guess, all the documents for this book also might land up in the public domain many years later.

You are right, Woodward has his political bias. It's unfortunate, that even after multiple attempts, Woodward couldn't get through to Trump to get his version of all the allegations. Finally, when Woodward got through to Trump, it was way too late. Did you hear the full conversation that Washington Post put out? If Trump's version was also there, this book might have been so different.

Now my bias: Though my knowledge of Woodward is only through his writings and writings about him by others, my personal perception is that he is meticulous in his journalistic approach, and it's unlikely that he would have cooked up quotes and anecdotes.

B Pradeep Nair said...

Thanks Hilary, for you comments. I know the US is going through very critical times.

Liz A. said...

Yup, it's all a mess. I bet most of what he wrote will turn out to be true even though people are denying it. Of course they are. They didn't expect their actual thoughts to get out there.

B Pradeep Nair said...

Thanks Liz for your comments.

Leanne said...

I love being an Aussie and living so far away from the drama of American politics Pradeep. Every time I see a pro-Trump or anti-Trump rant, I push it into the background and thank my stars that Australian government is so much less dramatic. Although, it does worry me that a superpower like the US has such a volatile leadership atm.

rudraprayaga said...

Trump is acceptable to many and that is why he is in power now. May be that some of his deeds do not tally with the ideas of many people.But what he does is not inclining to the interests of many countries,but does stand for the good of the US.Good information.

B Pradeep Nair said...

Hi Leanne, Yes, American politics is in such a flux. Thanks for your comment.

B Pradeep Nair said...

Yes, Sarla. Trump enjoys huge support among many Americans and we can't just ignore that.