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by Bob Woodward
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
Rage is the second of three books veteran journalist Bob Woodward has written about Donald Trump. The first, Fear, covered the early part of his administration. The third, as yet untitled, is due out in September 2021, and will cover the final months of the Trump presidency. Rage stands out for two reasons. First, it covers the bulk of the Trump years: the meetings with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un; the "perfect phone call" with the president of Ukraine which led to his impeachment; the murder of George Floyd and Trump's reaction to the subsequent protests; and, dominating the latter half of the book, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Second, Woodward conducted 17 interviews with Trump, sometimes by appointment and sometimes with Trump calling him out of the blue.
Trump did not speak to him for his first book--which he disliked--and apparently felt he would come off better by explaining himself to the author. Woodward quotes from these interviews at great length, often fact checking Trump (only occasionally during the conversation), and it provides an extensive display of the then-president's mindset. There's the usual accusations, deflections, and self-aggrandizement, but there were at least two instances where the book made news.
Amazingly the comparatively lesser item was the president blurting out information about a secret (and presumably highly classified) weapons system the country had developed under his watch. "We have stuff that you haven't even seen or heard about," he bragged. Woodward was later able to confirm that such a weapon existed adding, "[N]o one wanted to provide details and were surprised Trump had disclosed it." [p.185]
However, the biggest surprise--and one for which some criticized Woodward for saving for his book--was a conversation in March 2020 where Trump admitted that the COVID-19 virus was far more serious than he let on in his public statements. "I wanted to always play it down," Trump said, "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic." [p.285]
One of the hallmarks of the Trump Era was that the controversies came at such a rapid pace that yesterday's outrage was quickly supplanted by another. Rage is a compendium of many of the outrages of the Trump presidency prior to his promulgation of the "Big Lie" that his election loss was "rigged" leading to the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol and his second impeachment, all of which will be covered in the next book. Woodward, under no illusion that Trump would speak to him again, offers a devastating conclusion to this volume: "When his performance as president is taken in its entirety, I can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job." -- Daniel M. Kimmel, OnTheIssues editor, July 26, 2021
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Page last edited: Aug 26, 2021