PositiveNPRMilbank takes so many individual Republicans to task in this volume that one wonders: Do those not mentioned feel left out? ... Milbank knows his subject and timeframe...He has a well-honed edge as a commentator and a columnist\'s way with words. He punches relentlessly, the way a boxer works a speed bag. At times, the less avid reader may feel pummeled as well. But Milbank\'s fans will not go away disappointed.
William P Barr
MixedNPRBarr\'s memoir spans seven decades but is inevitably dominated by his two years as attorney general under former President Donald Trump. His account of those years will be read hungrily by Trump\'s fiercest defenders and harshest detractors. It is unlikely to satisfy either ... It is just as unlikely to win over Barr\'s own critics, including those who were angered by the way he left his job with the Trump administration (late in 2020) and those appalled by the way he got it in the first place (nominated late in 2018) ... Barr alternates between castigating and exonerating, between sounding sympathetic and exasperated. He catalogs Trump\'s offenses yet casts him as the latest victim of dishonest media and \'the radical Left\' ... Throughout his book, Barr walks the line between the various warring factions with the moves of highly skilled lawyer. He is a master of reading the law, finding what he needs in it, and presenting his interpretation as the obviously correct one...We also see him often as the legal rhetorician, parsing words carefully to fit his purpose...Of course, this mindset, this show of lawyerly care and precision, will only further infuriate the partisans on either side who simply want him to smite the enemy ... Taking a step back, this is not merely \'another Trump book,\' although Trump is a recurring and animating presence. Nor is it merely a screed against Barr\'s own adversaries (although large portions of it are) ... This is, rather, a Barr book. It is an autobiography with facets, including his recollections of the immigrant hardships of his grandparents, the academic careers of his parents and his own childhood devotion to the bagpipes. Barr clearly regards it as an American success story.
PositiveNPRKarl...adds substantially to the record of this parlous period — especially in the chaos of its final months. Karl has interviewed key players inside the White House and in Trump\'s Cabinet who can reveal how the president leaned on them to help him and how he gave himself over to ever-more-exotic legal strategies and advisers ... Karl often relies on insights gleaned from his March interview with the former president at Mar-a-Lago. Trump sat down with some of the reporters who have since written scathing accounts of his last year in office ... Some readers may pause at times at Karl\'s references to himself and description of his placement and attitude at various event ... He often includes himself \'in the shot\' when describing a scene. But, in fairness, the hyper-competitive world of broadcast journalism truly does make self-promotion an imperative ... On substance, and on the most important subject in Betrayal, Karl shows no hesitance or equivocation. Karl sees Trump as a past, present and future threat to the orderly process of American politics ... It may not quite qualify as comic relief, but Karl also has some delicious material from Trump\'s \'briefing sessions\' prior to the debates with Biden last fall. Karl treats readers to lengthy excerpts of the debate prep ... Enough of this material is new, or renewed in Karl\'s retelling, that it can all be compelling to read once again – even for those who have read more Trump books than they can count on their fingers.
Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
PositiveNPRSome of these landmarks are familiar...But other meaningful moments highlighted here have the quality of discovery ... Some pages of Peril read almost like a screenplay ... most of these detailed exchanges that provide so much of the life of the book are re-created from the shared recollections of 200 other participants whom the authors interviewed ... the authors\' perspective on Biden remains far more positive than their view of Trump, caught in the crosshairs here as in Woodward\'s earlier books ... Ultimately the book compares two men, two presidencies and two utterly different approaches to human relationships. Trump is the more compelling figure, the sun within his own universe and the driving force in national politics. Biden seems less sure of himself, less forceful in debate, often more importuning than commanding ... perhaps what stands out most in each of the book\'s 72 mini-chapters is the contrast between how the two men treat their immediate circle of staff and associates.
PositiveNPR... 500 illuminating—and often punishing—pages ... we are largely left to trust the authors to be reporting what has been shared with them, whatever the agreements regarding attribution ... This gives the Rucker-Leonnig storytelling a compelling sense of almost novelistic omniscience, as though the authors had been present and taking notes in a host of conversations they never heard. That is the style that has arisen in even the most respectable works of research in political reporting in our time, and these two Pulitzer-certified authors are among its most trustworthy practitioners. But readers should always look beyond the story itself to consider its ultimate sources and their motives. That is all the more important when the issues at hand are as portentous as they are here.
PositiveNPR... while it may not be the most important or valuable work in the summer library of Trump lit, it should stand as the worthiest among Wolff\'s own Trump trilogy, borrowing much of its seriousness from the harrowing events it describes ... His account lacks the degree of systematic reporting and the breadth and depth of sourcing that inform rival works, ultimately coming across as more of a beach read ... But Wolff has his gifts as a writer: a novelistic eye for scene and detail, an ear for dramatic dialogue. His story keeps moving, free of constraints common to courtroom lawyers or newspaper reporters ... Some of the salient assertions in his first two books were denied or at least disputed by officials with some authority. Wolff is scarcely alone in relying on unnamed or partially identified sources, although he does seem to attract more objections. That may be because he does not represent a major media institution. Or perhaps it is because his tone is so much more personal. His tales are conveyed as shared confidences rather than offers of evidence. And we should add that his narrative tends to be more entertaining, sailing swiftly ahead where others tend to grind. Much of this is about the novelistic sorts of judgments he offers freely about anything and everything. And that often means keeping story sources obscure, if not totally secret ... All good stories are rich in colorful characters, whether seen as good guys or bad, and Wolff gives us a gallery that does not disappoint.
RaveNPR... in King Richard, veteran journalist and author Michael Dobbs stirs memories of the intense personal drama connecting that break-in to the downfall of President Richard Nixon ... a vivid retelling of both the crime story and the human stories ... Dobbs uses this vivid source, among others, to re-enact the struggles within the Nixon operation just as it started to unravel. This may give King Richard a better shot than most histories have at reaching younger readers. At the same time, it gives a (much) older generation of Watergate junkies a way to rediscover the dark intrigues of Nixon and his entourage — with notes of relief that we all survived, and perhaps a touch of nostalgia as well ... Within this tight focus, Dobbs presents something he likens to a play ... Dobbs achieves something of a cinematic effect, thanks in part to the brevity of the chapters.
PositiveNPRIt is at times a harrowing journey. Readers who make it all the way through may feel they have completed something of a 12-step rehab program themselves. The details at times make one feel exposed to something like degradation porn ... As for the drug use, there could scarcely be a more damning account than Hunter Biden\'s own in his memoir ... This memoir is surely a confession, but it seems to seek something other than conventional forgiveness – something other than sympathy ... In the end, if it is not about forgiveness or sympathy, this memoir may be about making a stand. Making it clear the younger son, the black sheep of the Biden clan, wants to take whatever place on that victory stage he can occupy, as a son and a brother and the father of Beau Biden II, the new generation of hope.
MixedNPRThis is a sequel to Comey\'s A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership , which appeared in April 2018 and swiftly became a best seller. It could be called the first really consequential critique in the initial barrage of books about President Trump in office ... Saving Justice might still be called a continuation of the first memoir, and both might be titled Defending Comey . The answers he gives in both books, to detractors from both parties, are much the same. He sees his obligation, his client if you will, not the person or party who appointed him or even as the Department of Justice. He sees his obligation as being to justice itself. He knows how it looks, sometimes, and how hard it is to explain to others. But he has to refuse to care, or at least act as though he doesn\'t, while he perseveres ... But here, as in the first book, Comey\'s central issue is Trump, whom he views as the antithesis of his own focus on truth, transparency and trust.
H R McMaster
PositiveNPRMcMaster writes of his White House time with surprising detachment ... But he does have strong feelings about issues most people would consider profoundly political, such as the role the U.S. plays in the world ... While he may be uninterested in being juicy, this author is intent on being meaty. So readers should approach this work as a chance to earn several mini-McMaster\'s degrees. The general leaves little or no doubt as to his own hard-power thinking and attitudes ... an evenhanded assessment ... On the other hand, actually reading the text will reveal plenty that the president would take amiss.
RaveNPRThe publishers of A Promised Land surely knew they were launching this sure-to-be blockbuster in the month when President Trump would either be reelected or rejected by the voters. They knew the mountain of memories compiled in these 700 pages would appear in a certain light, or shadow, depending on the voters\' verdict. But this is more than Obama\'s answer to four years of Trump\'s rhetorical assaults and policy reversals. It is a continuation of the story that the \'skinny kid with a funny name\' had begun to tell well before the world was listening ... To a remarkable degree, the style of this latest retelling reflects the man we have seen over these years: Orderly, cautious, self-examining — yet eloquent in flashes so vivid that the world was immediately able to share something of his vision ... Whatever one\'s feelings about this man, they are likely to be brought to the surface by this book. We hear his voice in every sentence, almost as if he were physically present and reading the book aloud ... for those who felt the magnetism and power of the first African American president, at any point in his career, this book should rekindle some of that feeling of discovery. For the truly faithful, some of these pages may have to be read through tears ... If you remember enjoying just listening to Obama talk, the cadences and content of what he said, you are likely to keep this volume handy for a long time. If you tend to tire of his lecturing style (he calls it his \'droning on\'), or his tendency to share what he knows with an air of knowing it\'s a lot, then you will find it easier to put down ... it is an invaluable piece of the puzzle historians will struggle to put together from here forward. If it takes time and effort to take it all in, it\'s worth it.
PositiveNPRThis 450-page work is more than a journalist emptying his notebook of all his interviews and insights. It is more than a legal expert analyzing how the best work of talented and committed lawyers could be frustrated by governmental rules and rivalries within the executive and legislative powers in our federal system ... Perhaps its highest function is as a condensation of the best evidence against the presidency and character of Donald Trump, a summation offered up much as a prosecutor would do in seeking to sway a jury ... There is a great deal of detail amassed here that even hardcore Trump investigation junkies will not have seen. Much of it has to do with behind-the-scenes strategizing and negotiating by the myriad lawyers involved on all sides — the FBI, Mueller\'s team, the White House, other executive offices and both parties in both chambers of Congress. Toobin is fascinated not only by the language of, say, the impeachment articles themselves, but by the individuals who drafted them, reviewed them or lent their imprimatur ... In fact, while True Crimes offers a one-stop catalog of the legal proceedings surrounding the Trump presidency, it can also be read as a who\'s who of the legal profession in Washington and New York. More than a dozen key attorneys each rate pages of description and detailed narrative, while dozens more make cameo appearances or get drive-by mentions ... Most of what is new here is at the level of detail. The broad outlines and the key quotations from the Mueller saga and from the subsequent impeachment and trial of the president have been the stuff of nightly news, daily papers and constant Twitter feeds for years ... But Toobin has gathered such a weight of evidence and such a chorus of witnesses that his summation is more damning than the sum of its parts. By integrating the Russian interference story with all the twists and turns of Trump\'s defensive moves and the segue to the Ukraine arms-for-favors deal, Toobin presents a persuasive summation to the jury of his readers.
RaveNPR...the better book to buy for insight into what Trump\'s rise and rule really mean—here and abroad—for democracy in our time ... Applebaum brings to these judgments the gravitas of a historian, winner of the Pulitzer Prize ... Given all this weighty material, it is remarkable that Applebaum can make her treatment of it edifying. Yet it is as smoothly readable and impressively reasoned as her columns from 17 years at The Washington Post and her more recent writing in The Atlantic ... we can find both cause for concern and a reason to hope.
PanNPRThe president portrayed here is not only self-involved but single-minded about pursuing and preserving his own starkly personal interests ... Bolton\'s account often reads as though torn from pages of his daily planner, rife with references to the time he rose and arrived at the White House or the details of his travel and the heads of state with whom he shared a tête-à-tête ... Bolton sets out to describe Trump\'s ego and narcissism and also reveals a good deal about his own. If not right about everything, he is at least right about a great many things. Like Trump, he finds others to blame when his predictions or wagers go awry ... What sets this book apart is implied in its title ... Beyond that, his attitude and language are light years removed from that of other Trump chroniclers. The overall tone suggests the diary of a tutor who has endured many frustrating months with a spoiled and inattentive pupil who ignores his lessons and regards his tutor as expendable ... his ego is intellectual, even academic. He clearly does not expect to attract the casual reader, or anyone else unable to digest sentences such as this one on the third page: \'Constant personnel turnover obviously didn\'t help, nor did the White House\'s Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes (\'war of all against all\').\'
MixedNPRGessen\'s viewpoint may be head-spinning for many, especially those who believe today\'s maelstrom of disease, unemployment and racial violence represent failures by the incumbent president ... a unique blend of intellect and manifold passions ... The writer flashes the fierce attitude and language of the partisan activist one moment, returning to the cooler mien of a public intellectual the next. Gessen is particularly sensitive to issues of linguistics and the subtle shifts of wording that can mean so much ... One impression easily taken from Surviving Autocracy is that Trump has been visited on Americans by some mysterious force or personal magic. There is a lack of focus on the manner by which Trump, as opposed to Putin, came to office. Gessen\'s perceptions about Russia\'s people and politics are surely more valuable than those of Americans who have never been there (or only visited briefly). But by the same token, average Americans might well ask how much Gessen really knows about the interior states or the interior life of most Americans ... What if Gessen had spent more time in the country these people feel they have lost? ... It might help translate a deep empathy for the plight of ordinary Russians and relate it to the fears and frustrations of their American counterparts—the millions who voted for Trump and now accept his authoritarian tendencies as being in their own interest.
MixedNPROlder readers may recoil from much of this assessment — not only because the behavior described is repellent, but also because its depiction in such relentlessly damning detail is disturbing. People naturally ask: How much of this can be true? ... relies on a mélange of on-the-record and off-the-record insiders with varying degrees of proximity to the president...At times, this mixed methodology presents real problems ... Without questioning the legitimacy of these quotations, can we rely upon them the same way we would trust direct attributions? ... To the authors\' credit, the on-the-record elements are compelling on their own ... Those who followed these events in real time may feel as if they are being dragged back through nightmares they would rather forget. At the same time, for those who have not been as focused on the daily and weekly ups and downs, this catalog may come with the force of revelation. For that reason alone, it is highly valuable ... Still, you don\'t have to be a Trump loyalist to feel the authors have chosen only the incidents and eruptions that cast Trump in the most unfavorable light, a style reminiscent of the muckraking journalists of a century ago. Those who wish to see Trump\'s offenses balanced against his tax-and-regulation cuts or hear encomiums to his transformation of the federal judiciary will need to look elsewhere.
Nikki R. Haley
PositiveNPRHer repeated pledges of allegiance may surprise readers who thought Haley had left the administration halfway through her term as some sort of protest ... Perhaps the most moving part of her memoir deals with the tragedy that occasioned the flag\'s removal, the 2015 massacre of nine parishioners inside a historic black church in Charleston. The Charleston chapters are the most passionate in the book. But then the author is caught up in the Republican nomination wars of 2016 ... Haley responds with high dudgeon when other countries\' ambassadors denigrate the U.S. ... With varying degrees of subtlety, Haley implies that her loyalty is less to Trump the man than to the voters who made him president ... In the end, memoir becomes manifesto. Haley accepts and praises Trump without fully embracing him. But she is absolutely unequivocal in proclaiming her bond with his voters and her bona fides on the issues she knows matter to them.
PositiveNPRThis slim volume is the author\'s mea culpa, projected well past personal apology to the sounding of a national alarm ... At this point, it\'s hard to imagine a White House narrative with real shock value — unless it could sell a vision of this White House as a happy workshop of harmonious cooperation ... What is different here is the near-total absence of gossip and the sustained presence of surprisingly high-minded, intellectual discussion.
MixedNPRMichael Wolff\'s new book...offers many surprising stories—but its power to shock may be limited ... There may never have been a more polarizing president, nor an author less likely to be read as a neutral recorder of facts. This is regrettable, because much of Wolff\'s gossipy but disturbing tale is not only plausible but credibly corroborated elsewhere. Siege includes events widely observed, or present in accessible public records. Yet all of that material has been conjoined with so much else that cannot be confirmed that the reader is apt to be left in doubt ... Plausible? Believable? Perhaps, but the prejudice of the reader is not a substitute for evidence ... Bannon\'s idiosyncratic view of the world and raw language provide much of the color and punch in this book. But his vocabulary of imperatives and superlatives grows wearisome ... Wolff is not a policy maven, nor does he dwell on the deeper and even global political issues Trump represents—the rise of populist nationalism and the turn toward autocracy. Wolff\'s subject is the president as a personality, and the people in his immediate circle who observe that personality ... if nothing else, Wolff has performed a kind of service in Siege by taking us back over this rocky ground and reminding us what a long strange trip it has already been.
Robert S. Mueller
PanNPR...it\'s just as unsparing about dysfunction and deception as all those earlier versions by journalists, gossip mavens and former staffers ... it\'s amazing how many journalistic stories derided as \'fake news\' over the past few years now re-appear in Mueller\'s recounting — only this time as documented evidence ... It may not make the end product an ideal movie script, or a page-turner in the aisles at your bookstore.
Andrew G McCabe
PositiveNPR\"... [McCabe provides] extensive and detailed descriptions... of the crisis atmosphere in the FBI and the larger Justice Department following Comey\'s firing ... But [McCabe\'s] book is about far more than [Comey\'s firing], as he remained at the FBI for another 10 months after Comey\'s departure and was in frequent conflict with the president ... reading through McCabe\'s 262-page memoir suggests McCabe\'s critics may wish to proceed with caution. Any attempt to make him a pariah or impugn his integrity will need to deal with his extraordinary degree of preparation for what is about to come his way ... Later [McCabe] recounts how the bureau\'s focus shifted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and how its resources were reallocated to that threat ... But we have had more than a few books on these subjects, and McCabe eventually returns to the threat he clearly wants to alert the nation to nowMcCabe\'s portrait of the Trump administration and of the president himself is as alarming as any we have seen so far — including those of journalists such as Bob Woodward and former staff such as Cliff Sims.\
MixedNPRFor those who have followed any of the half-dozen earlier \'inside stories\' of Trump World, all this will be as familiar as re-used videotape on cable TV news ... Sims the wordsmith can be charming, and he works at winning us over the way he once served Trump and his minions needing speeches and media statements ... tells us more about Sims than about the famous people around him. And it offers a metaphor for the larger conundrum affecting all those who want to take their moral code seriously, while also lionizing the person who is Donald Trump.
PanNPR...if you are looking for introspection or deep thoughts, look elsewhere. This is a big, loud book by a man with a full head of steam, stories to tell and scores to settle ... References to the Lost Transition recur often and dominate toward the end as Christie pile-drives the point ... by the end of the book, we are accustomed to hearing how much Christie mattered to Trump ... As in all autobiographies, the author himself is center stage. But even here, on a stage he has built for himself, Christie finds he must share the spotlight with Donald Trump ... Let us hit pause and note here that the early portions of Christie\'s memoir are pretty standard autobiographical material ... After several of these chapters, Christie is just getting warmed up, but he can probably sense he has gone on too long without getting back to Trump.
PositiveNPR\"Fear belongs in a new category. Many readers will find Woodward\'s depiction of this president and his presidency so devastating that it can only be described as an indictment ... Yes, he has probably talked to most of the people mentioned in the book (other than Trump and perhaps family members), and yes, he has hundreds of hours of tape recordings of his interviews. But the price of getting this kind of cooperation and supposed candor from sources is that the evidence gathered remains inadmissible—not just in a court of law but in the court of many people\'s opinion ... By most accounts, Woodward lives by his code and is both thorough and conscientious in pursuing his technique. But the technique is ultimately limited. At a moment such as this, fraught with consequences for the media and the nation, \'deep background\' may be too frail a framework to support the enormous weight of what Woodward is alleging ... Whatever comes after this, we have Woodward\'s work as a point of reference. And for the time being, at least, it offers the best glimpse we have into a White House like no other.\
PositiveNPRThe election night map in 2016 brought many surprises, but none more stunning than Wisconsin\'s switch from blue to red—marking its first vote for a Republican presidential ticket since 1984 ... Michigan and Pennsylvania also ended long Democratic streaks that night. But the Badger State was the big shock, because Barack Obama had carried it twice by comfortable margins and Hillary Clinton had led all through the fall in the most respected statewide poll ... President Trump himself has since seemed fixated on his Wisconsin win, if fuzzy on the details. Last month, while visiting that state, Trump claimed to have been the first Republican to win there since Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. (In fact, the GOP\'s presidential nominee won the state five times between Ike and Trump: Reagan in 1984 and 1980 and Richard Nixon in 1972, 1968 and 1960.)...But the president is not the only one getting Wisconsin wrong. Assumptions based on fleeting impressions have long led outsiders to misinterpret what goes on between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi ... enter Dan Kaufman
John McCain and Mark Salter
PositiveNPRThe Restless Wave is a plain-spoken and often painful personal accounting; a résumé of a contentious career and a defense of controversial political decisions. It may inspire or enrage. But it is less an effort to provoke such conflicting responses than a paean to McCain\'s idea of America ... The bulk of the book strives to re-litigate the major issues of the past dozen years, both before and after the 2008 campaign ... At its best, the prose in The Restless Wave has some of the terse effectiveness we associate with the 20th century writer Ernest Hemingway.
James B Comey
MixedNPR\"...by far the most consequential book yet in the literature of the Trump presidency ... He maintains an air of rather self-conscious rectitude throughout, while finding much to disapprove of in the world around him ... In a remarkable look back, Comey says he was deciding \'in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president.\' So any thought of concealment on his part \'bore greater weight than it would have if the election had appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all the polls\' ... It is far from clear what effect Comey\'s book will have on public attitudes toward Mueller\'s work. It may be equally hard to assess what impact it will have on attitudes toward Comey or Trump. But it is not likely to convert the committed partisans on either side, or in either party. Instead, it may well cause further entrenchment, with both sides burrowing deeper into their respective certainties.\
RaveNPR...this fresh tome (nearly 700 pages with notes and bibliography) is far more than a rebuttal to Stanton critics, past and present. What Stahr has harvested here from notes, letters and memoirs reveals the man who could behave as Stanton did on that night and in many other controversial moments ... Stahr shows us Stanton confronting that [asassination] crisis as he had so many others, with specific orders, definite plans and ferocious energy ... Moving swiftly across the enormous landscape of Stanton's life and times, Stahr provides a narrative that is both readily accessible and compelling for scholars long familiar with the basic facts. Stahr finds in even the more ephemeral material insights into the ways Stanton stood out from his cohort while embodying the virtues and limitations of his times. Although not a superlative stylist, Stahr is a steady, even-keel narrator who navigates each controversy with clarity and care.
Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes
PositiveNPRIt is by no means the last word on 2016, but Allen and Parnes must be regarded as early front-runners in the race to make sense of it all ... There is no Big Reveal, no shocking secret answer. Instead we get a slow-building case against the concept and execution of the Clinton campaign, with plenty of fault falling squarely on the candidate herself ... The tone of the Allen-Parnes narrative is unsparing but not unsympathetic, noting campaign flaws and missteps without rue or recrimination ... Ultimately, Allen and Parnes get inside the campaign but not inside the mind of Hillary Clinton. Much the same seems to have been true for most of her staff and, ultimately, the voters.