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Page 100: Fire and the Fury

September 18, 2018


Did I make it past page one hundred? If I do, I will read the book to the end, no matter if it gets a lot worse. Then tell you why.

(1108 emails in by inbox)

The inaugural Page One Hundred review is Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff– A perfect page turner for a Guardian reader.

Passes the Page 100 test: Yes

Summary: Despite some well proven flaws in the methodology, Michael Wolff’s description of his time observing the inner workings of the White House under Trump is a page turner, whilst also being a basic primer on how the US Government works for those not in the know.

Full review

The biggest failure of Fire and Fury is that it won’t change the mind of anyone who reads it. In many ways, by even writing this book, Wolff was shooting fish in a barrel with his choice of topic. You either like the current POTUS or hate him and very little in this book with dissuade you of that opinion.

If politics is show business for ugly people, then Trump has found himself atop one repulsive ladder. The content of the book is full of what Americans call ‘insider baseball’ topics: industry talk that amounts to business as usual amongst those who work in the field, but that is seen as scandalous when exposed to a larger media base.

By the simple action of being POTUS, everything Trump does is seen as a shocking thing by some, to be reported upon and catalogued by a media hungry for clicks and (as people) to put up some sort of way of dealing with the man, be it enabling him or attempting to destroy him. Wolff just provides some additional insider info and character portraits to stuff you would find everyday on The Hill.

Not that this is to downplay the magnitude of some of the books revelations or how I eagerly gobbled it all down. Whenever I picked it up to continue reading, I would breeze through several chapters in one sitting, with no feeling of having to force myself to read on – which as anyone who has been gripped by a good book will tell you – is a rarity to treasure.

My biggest takeaway from the Fire and Fury was the realities of the White House. For someone whose working knowledge of the White House comes from the occasional episode of the West Wing, seeing Wolff lay out exactly how the organisation works by contrasting it with examples of how Trump’s appointment blew such traditions to smithereens, Wolff lays a good foundation in the early chapters of the book on which the peaks events can be built off of.

Overall, I felt like this book was released too soon. The point the book ends on feels like a decade ago in our current Trumpian news cycle. The events covered by Wolff are but a glimpse in the rear view mirror as to when such events were shocking, rather than treated as just another example of how the current administration deals with business. I feel like we are several years (and perhaps a presidential term or two) from being able to truly assess just how much of an effect the Trump years will have on politics – much like books of the Gordon Brown/Tony Blair years, the most cutting (and incisive) treaties came out a few years after the fact.

If Wolff feels like he wants to have another go at chronicling things then, well…I can’t wait.

Header image from Wikipedia

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