Thursday, August 13, 2020
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Book review: Fire and Fury

By Michael Wolff and citing as a primary source Stephen Bannon, the former Trump administration adviser, the bestseller Fire and Fury has drawn not only criticism but an attempt to halt its release from the White House, the New York Times reports.

President Donald Trump has even threatened to sue the book’s publisher. For what? Libel, said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

Asked what statements in the book were potentially libelous, she cited only an anecdote involving former House Speaker John A Boehner, an Ohio Republican.

And here I was thinking it would be the claim that Mr Trump didn’t really want to run for president or that his wife didn’t want to live in the White House or that his daughter Ivanka was characterized as being as dumb as a brick.

Mr Trump is a president Americans both love and hate. Kind of par for the course, if you ask me. But staying away from our bookshelves and our Kindle libraries would be a good idea. He may sue for libel if claims made are indeed untrue, but I hope he has much more pressing business to tend to as the leader of the free world.

Various student reviews have been trickling in about the book, even in the early days of its release. According to one from Belvidere North High School in Illinois, Mr Wolff spent a year being a “fly on the wall” inside the White House, the president’s tweet above notwithstanding.

Reporter Will Sieracki writes in The North View that “most of its content tries to confirm that Donald Trump is a complete idiot. He has an extreme paranoia about being poisoned, telling housekeeping to not touch his toothbrush and having his security team get McDonald’s for him.”

What a picture of incompetency that is! I want to add, though, after having read the book myself, nothing in it will shock anyone who reads it. I mean, it’s not like haters haven’t been saying Mr Trump is unfit for the office since before the election or lovers haven’t been saying that all the reports claiming incompetency are fake.

Writing in the Tiger Times at Edwardsville High School, also in Illinois, Zoe Robinson goes into a little more detail about Mr Trump’s non-wish to win the actual election, quoting the book itself:

“‘I can be the most powerful man in the world,’ he had told his aide Sam Nunberg at the outset of the race. His longtime friend Roger Ailes, the former head of Fox News, liked to say that if you want a career in television, first run for president,” Mr Wolff wrote. “Now Trump, encouraged by Ailes, was floating rumors about a Trump network. It was a great future. He would come out of his campaign, Trump assured Ailes, with a far more powerful brand and untold opportunities.”

That sounds much more like a businessman building up a brand than a political leader, and yet, here we are.

But like Mr Sieracki at Belvidere North, Ms Robinson agrees the book will sell off the shelves. “It’s hard to say who’s lying and who’s telling the truth,” she writes as a discerning reader. “But until the latter is found, Fire and Fury will continue to sell all over the country.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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