Book Review | Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

Book Review | Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

How does one approach this book?

Were I blissfully unaware of American politics and its cast of characters, I might consider this to be a work of fiction in the style of Toole’s “Confederacy of Dunces.” A light hearted satirical portrayal of a hapless buffoon who finds himself unexpectedly elected into high office.

Or perhaps if I were a jaded cynical member of the public, I might consider this as more red meat hyperbole tossed into an arena of a blood thirsty and credulous public as we might expect from Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck.

Or maybe, just maybe, it might be an attempt of sober and sobering journalistic endeavor where the facts on their face paint a disturbing picture.

Wolff frames the story of the Trump white house with an life imitates art comparison with Mel Brook’s “The producers” wherein the Trump campaign team had no intention of actually winning the prize but were using the campaign to leverage national publicity for themselves to launch other endeavors.

So the story begins with a flat footed, deer in the headlights Trump team totally unprepared for the office. And apparently few others in the capital anticipated this upset. To make matters worse, Wolff portrays Trump as a tough on the outside marshmallow with a short attention span and no real plan or agenda running from pillar to post among the competing factions in the White House.

Here we have an administration of Washington outsiders, political amateurs, whose agenda was more personal and self-serving that idealistic. Trump acts on instinct with no real depth of knowledge in any political or economic issues, mistrusts the expert knowledge of those who might articulate a coherent approach to policy.

The only person who seemed to have some sort of vision seems to have been Steve Bannon whose ideological perspective isolated him from some of the mainstream impulses within the administration. In a way this book is almost as much about Bannon as it is the Trump administration. I suppose this is because Wolff had a lot of contact with Bannon who loves to talk.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the book is Wolff’s apparent access. Trump seems more swayed by flattery than reason. His narcissism invites and rewards obsequious behavior. This is how Wolff found his way into the White House. It make one wonder who else might be able to gain access to the Trump White House with an agenda other than writing a book.

Fred Nehring

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