As I write this, we are seven days into the New Year. And the news has been really strange. One of the top headlines was that the US President was trying to silence a publication of a book called Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff. I had no intention of reading it, but when I received a copy from a friend, I decided to see what it was about.
I’ve studied politics and government since I was a freshman in high school, through college, and since I graduated. I’ve read a handful of political tell-all books and articles, but I don’t typically read them anymore. They’re not as enjoyable to me compared to the scholarly works that many author such as David McCullough and Ron Chernow. Michael Wolff is low on my list due to his reputation and problems with writing he’s done in the past. When I received a copy of the book from a friend, I decided to see what the fuss was about.
If you’re only here for the review…
If you’re here for reviews, these are my thoughts on Fire and Fury: Insider the Trump White House by Michael Wolff.
- Each chapter of this book is its own topic and loosely follows the events as they happen in real-time. For example, there’s a chapter on Jared and Ivanka, but uses quotes from the entire time Wolff was observing the White House.
- The writing is a mess. The author will start a sentence, insert his thoughts, continue the sentence, insert some background, continue the sentence, include research, and by then you’ve lost the point he was trying to make. It makes it impossible to get to the end of a chapter without taking a break. An example I’ve written goes like this:
“The red ball is very red, but not the red I would have picked, and Johnny took the ball from his brother – who is 5 years younger than Johnny and only half as smart as evidenced by his failure of first grade and pretended to be a year younger than he was – went outside and threw it over the bushes for revenge.
- If only 25% of this book is true, the country is in trouble. I want my family, friends, and myself to be safe and successful like anyone else would. This book doesn’t give me any sense of security. In the US, the President is in charge of the armed forces, has veto power, ensures federal law is upheld, among many other things. I’m concerned that there’s someone there who supposedly can’t stay on topic during important meetings, has no interest in things that have nothing to do with him directly, and expresses the opinions of the last person he talked to instead of having his own values.
- There’s not much in there that will surprise if you’re someone who pays attention to current events. The right-wing will dismiss it as fake news as with most negative headlines about this White House. The left-wing will devour the book as an unholy text of nasty gossip on the administration. I strongly recommend anyone that reads this, regardless of your political leaning, take the book with a grain of salt. There’s a lot of he said, she said moments and some of it is the opinions and perspective of the players that work there. Because of that, stories could be that person’s truth, but not factually correct.
First Amendment Rights
The President is infamous for threatening to sue without doing so. This book was no exception. Unfortunately for the White House, the enforcement of the First Amendment makes it hard to stop the publication of books. The only way for a government official to win against a publication is if they can prove that the writer knew what they were publishing was 100% false. It’s also unlikely anyone would win just because someone said something mean.
Even so, the threat against the Constitution from the Executive Branch is wildly inappropriate in US standards and borders on autocracy. The Executive Branch ensures that federal law is enforced and upheld, but it’s been challenged over the past year. This book is a deluge of negativity of how our system of government could be threatened that I had to take a break. When I got a notification from my library that An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice was about to expire, it seemed like a great time to switch books.
I know that Khizr Khan has nothing to do with the book I’m reviewing directly, but his chapter on discovering the Declaration of Independence and The US Constitution in law school put this week’s events in a new perspective. It goes as follows:
“We agreed the Constitution itself was rather dry, but we marveled at the amendments. Freedom of assembly? How wondrous to have such a thing! Freedom of speech? Our professors who’d been educated in England had told us about Speakers’ Corner, a spot in one of London’s big green parks where anyone could say anything about anyone. It had always seemed fantastical, but here it was, codified into law.”
I’ll admit: I didn’t know anything about Khizr Khan until he took the Constitution out of his pocket during the election. The paragraphs on how excited he was about our most basic laws remind me how lucky we are. Also how much we have to lose and have far we could fall. It explained why he carried the Constitution in the first place with him. He comes from a place where he knows its value and Americans come from a place of privilege.
I will probably finish Fire and Fury, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. However, it’d hard not to see some importance in this book because of the White House’s reaction to it. Had they just ignored it, it probably wouldn’t have sold out in stores across America. As a American citizen, I will continue to pay attention and keep the government accountable with my voice and my vote.
Happy Reading Everyone,
P.S. If you’re interested a great story on immigration, sacrifice, and family, I recommend you pick up Khizr Khan’s book. It is excellent so far.