Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House By Michael Wolff, reviewed by Bernie Kelly

This is the book that aroused so much controversy  a few months back. Michael Wolff, the author, calls into question President Trump’s political acumen, his motivations and even his mental competence. Wolff is a capable scribe with a good command of language. I just wonder if he is playing fair in attacking a president who has, despite his shortcomings, boosted the stock market and set the economy on a salutary course, reducing unemployment in the process.

This is not to say that Trump has no faults- a point Wolff hammers home at every opportunity. The Trump White House was, and remains the scene for much bickering and political infighting, especially between the factions led by Steve Bannon Trump’s chief aide on the one hand, and Ivanka Trump Kushner and Jared Kushner on the other.      To quote Wolff: : “Jared Kushner in quite a short period of time-less than a year-had come over from the standard Democratic view in which he was raised, to an acolyte of Trumpism…” This sea change was reflective of a phenomenon that had taken place across the nation, propelling Trump to heights of international celebrity, and eventually to the presidency. Wolff takes note of this turn of events, but in my view, he does not pay enough heed to Trump’s near genius in pulling off this major upset to reach the pinnacle of political power. All of this is not to say that Trump’s personality is not sometimes dangerously choleric. He flies off the handle frequently and his midnight tweets to his coterie of wealthy followers are, to say the least disconcerting. Once again, though, Trump seems to have a working knowledge of Wall Street.

The other noteworthy faction in the White House drama was led by Steve Bannon, who had come from an Irish Catholic working class background to become Trump’s right-hand man. Bannon emerges as an interesting character, especially because of his right-wing proclivities. According to Wolff, Bannon had made his way in the world by ingratiating himself into the realms of rich families, especially the conservative Mercer Publishing family. Bannon was notable not only because of his political abilities, but also for the fact that he was the closest thing to an intellectual in the Trump inner circle. Having penned over many a weighty tome, Bannon was in favor of de-escalating the war in Afghanistan. He also constantly ridiculed Jared Kushner’s ambition to bring peace to the Middle East. Trump is portrayed as a man of little patience-more of an ideologue than a good listener. During the debate on replacing ObamaCare, for instance, Wolff claims that Trumps’ attention span was short, even wandering. The president is also cast as something of a misogynist, which comes as no surprise, since Wolff has little complimentary to say of Trump. Despite all this, Trump enjoyed being cajoled by his female staff members, especially Hope Hicks, who relayed the daily news for him.

This book is something of a vendetta-attacking the president at every turn and giving him little credit for his accomplishments, notably in terms of the economic turnaround. This is somewhat bothersome in light of Wolff’s ability to turn a phrase and play out a deft storyline. One comes away with the impression that things cannot be as bad as they seem to the author. Nevertheless, the book is a compelling read ( it is hard to put down) for both the pro and anti-Trump cadres. It is little wonder that the book caused so much controversy. I recommend that the reader should peruse it and judge for themselves. Best of luck!

Bernie Kelly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.