Rated 3.5 of 5 stars
Wolff tells a story that is not hard to imagine happening. We follow his line of thinking throughout the book and it jumps around a bit because he sectioned the chapters by people’s relationships rather than by a sequence of events. I found this to be a drawback on the book because I’d read about the inauguration in an earlier chapter then touch on it again from a different angle in a later chapter. Just tell me everything about the inauguration then move on to what the first 100 days was like…in order. But even with the relationship based structure, the book reads well. I found it to get very stuffy towards the middle as if someone else was writing it or editing it. There was also a distinct infatuation with Steve Bannon. I am not sure if that is because Wolff was getting most of his information from this source and therefore, Bannon became most of the story but it is very evident that Bannon plays a large role in Trump politics.
From the beginning, the campaign is covered closely and I found the most interesting part to be Melania and Trump’s relationship (or lack thereof). It definitely gives credence to what we see in the news, the distance, the lack of affection. Second in interest was the fact that Donald did not plan to win or even wanted to win. He just wanted the publicity and the attention so that his businesses would continue to flourish. This was speculated many times by my own friends in discussion when he would do things or say things so off the wall as if he was trying his best to throw the election…and simply couldn’t. From this book, it affirms that this was the case and that Melania had strict reasons for not wanting to be the First Lady or be in politics period. She enjoyed her life at the top of the tower and felt this was unnecessary (which it was from her point of view…if you have everything, why try to take over the world when it has already worked in your favor?).
Next, we get to see the inner workings of the White House when the president’s kids are given no titles but all the power. We see what life is like without a meaningful Chief of Staff, without an effective communications team (because they get sidelined by a president that doesn’t vet a thing he says or does with people who are knowledgeable) and basically what turmoil and the Wild Wild West looks like, politics-style. It was very interesting to read this bit of information the most because the cat-fighting and leaking, the blowups and the jealousy from all sides (Bannon to Jarvanka then Trump to anyone that got good press when he didn’t). It’s like reading about a Rugrats adventure. Totally enjoyable but wholly scary when its real.
The book doesn’t give a ton of new insights. Most everything in it has been leaked, investigated and shared via media. So that takes the stinger away that we would have had in normal, more protected administrations. The only thing you will gain from this book is the relationships. You will see how people interact, what they really think about the president and his family (which is no real shocker since most of America feels the same way) and get an inkling as to why some people were chosen to serve, why they stayed or left and what they think about Trump’s service to the country. Overall, you will get ZERO political understanding of Trump (and maybe, that’s because there isn’t any) but you don’t read this thinking you’ll understand what policies he supports or what’s important to him. You won’t get that. This book paints Trump as an entertainer. His main goal being to get on television and be liked by all. No policy (because that’s ran by Bannon and whichever family member he trusts at the time). No loyalty (because he fires people that don’t look the part, smile or generally kiss his a$$). No organization (because he promotes people with no experience then reams them for not doing well). So the book just feeds into our fears…that the White House is in complete disarray with a few folks trying to hold it together at the seams.
Raging Book Reviews Recommended
*Purchased with my own money for review.