PanThe New York Review of BooksWoodward is a fantastic fact-finder who cannot and will not analyze the facts he finds ... And since he refrains from judging what his sources say, he runs the risk of becoming their prisoner, and, at worst, a stenographer to power ... Here he serves his readers almost as well as his sources until, in the end, he doesn’t ... It can test the reader’s faith in humanity to see otherwise unprincipled men depict themselves as defenders of democracy. They want to be seen as unsung heroes, but there are no heroes here ... Fear suffers from Woodward’s deference to his sources and his disrespect for Mueller. I guess that’s because he couldn’t get him to talk. The man leading the most politically charged federal investigation since Watergate is the missing element of this book. An appreciation of the breadth and depth of the special counsel’s work would have given it a counterpoint to the cacophony of crazytown. Instead, Woodward lets [Trump’s lawyer John] Dowd serve as a ventriloquist’s dummy for his own apparent antipathy toward Mueller. We are told without comment that Dowd thought Mueller had no important witnesses against Trump from inside the White House ... No known basis exists for these assertions. Woodward is wrong to accept them at face value ... We have bought the ticket for a frightening roller-coaster ride through the first fourteen months of an appalling administration, but when the ride is over we are back where we began—and we don’t fully understand where we’ve been or what we’ve seen. And that’s because, in the end, this book, like its subject, has power but lacks a moral compass.
Michael V Hayden
PositiveThe New York Review of BooksHis writing on Trump’s America reads like Masha Gessen’s on Putin’s Russia (though not as eloquent). Hayden was no fan of Obama and found no place in his administration ... Hayden is nonetheless close to apoplectic about Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and his alarming affinities with his Russian counterpart ... He laments, after noting Trump’s relentless attacks on the press: \'If this is who we are or who we are becoming, I have wasted 40 years of my life.\' And he takes umbrage at the idea that he and his old cohorts are working in secret to undermine Trump: \'There is no ‘deep state’ in the American Republic. There is only ‘the state,’ or, as I characterize it, career professionals doing their best within the rule of law. Not that they always play nice\' ... No, they do not.