Fear: Trump in the WhitehouseBob Woodward
You know this one. Woodward’s latest tell all, this time about the campaign and first year of the Trump presidency.
I read all the Woodward books, largely out of habit at this point, and I weighed whether or not to read this one – I have enough trump in my life, thanks. I decided to dive in, because, well sometimes you have to look the ugly in the mirror.
And ugly it is. As someone who follows the news carefully, I didn’t learn much of anything new here, but it was still a bleak ride through the narcissism and incompetence of Trump and the sycophancy of so many of his advisers and supporters.
One moment stuck out more than all the rest for me – Charlottesville. Trump’s “both sides” comment, followed by his half hearted walk back, followed by what is reported here as Trump’s regret for walking back the comment because it made him seem weak was a deeply jarring for me. That the president of the united states could not wholeheartedly condemn the actions of the white nationalist at Charlottesville still shocks and depresses me.
All and all, a classic Woodward book of solid reporting and lots of Washington gossip. Except this time, the stakes feel higher. If this is your sort of thing, you’ve surely already read it. If it isn’t, you aren’t missing anything earth shattering.
Recommended for the enthusiast.
Plan of Attack
No one can get the skinny like Woodward can get the skinny. There are few reporters who get to spend hours interviewing the president, but Woodward did for this book.
Woodward gets this kind of access because he is the most important investigative reporter in America. If you don’t tell him, someone else will. But like any good reporter, Woodward is concerned about keeping his sources, and while this book is informative about what was going on in the White House around the time of the start of the war in Iraq, it fails to take the White House to task for the mistakes made in those early days of the war. Its still an important book, because of the access Woodward received, but in the future no one will remember Plan of Attack like they remember All the Presidents Men.
This review was originally published on a now long defunct livejournal account. I am moving it over here as part of a project to get all my writing into one spot.
The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court
OK, I haven’t read All the Presidents Men, (which is a shame and really should be rectified) but of all the Woodward books I’ve read, this is by far the best. As a intellectual investigation into the workings of the Supreme Court, it isn’t much. But as a juicy tell-all of the behind the scenes sausage making in the land’s highest court, it cannot be beat. Woodward can get just about anyone to talk to him, and that is never clearer than in this book. He’s got direct quotes from meetings where there were probably less than a dozen people present. Its amazing.
Here are some brief thoughts on some of the justices features in this book:
Burger – was a tool
Marshall – was a much better lawyer than he was a justice.
Rehnquist – dick.
Douglas –dick, but pretty fucking amazing.
Probably the most fascinating of the justices is Blackmun who goes from an incredibly self-conscious to confident and interesting in the quick couple of years the book covers. If you have any interest in the personalities on the Supreme Court, or the kind of horse trading that goes on there, you have to read this. If not, there’s no reason you’d ever pick it up.
Recommended for the enthusiast.