[Rucker and Leonnig] are meticulous journalists, and this taut and terrifying book is among the most closely observed accounts of Donald J. Trump’s shambolic tenure in office to date ... reads like a horror story, an almost comic immorality tale. It’s as if the president, as patient zero, had bitten an aide and slowly, bite by bite, an entire nation had lost its wits and its compass ... The result of Rucker and Leonnig’s hard work is a book that runs low to the ground; it only rarely pauses for sweeping, drone-level vistas and injections of historical perspective. This is not Garry Wills or Joan Didion. They do break news, some large and some small ... Rucker and Leonnig are adept at scene-setting, at subtly thickening the historical record.
As befitting Pulitzer winners for investigative reporting, [Rucker and Leonnig's] book is richly sourced and highly readable. It sheds new light on how the 45th president tests the boundaries of the office while trying the patience and dignity of those who work for or with him. It is not just another Trump tell-all or third-party confessional. It is unsettling, not salacious.
Older 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.
... this is an icy, Iago-like glimpse of the emotional and moral nullity that may be the source of his power. On reflection, Rucker and Leonnig’s book needs a different, less brittly ironic title: they should have called it Evil Genius.
... is awash in arresting details ... Mr. Rucker and Ms. Leonnig focus far more on personnel and personalities than on policy initiatives of the Trump Administration. The authors do not discuss tax cuts, repeal of environmental regulations, or the president’s criticism of Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell...They ignore Mr. Trump’s repeated efforts to persuade Congress and the courts to get rid of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act ... provides a lot of ammunition, some of it new even to political junkies, to confirm a by-now-familiar thesis that Mr. Trump is a danger to democracy and national security and unfit to be president of the United States ... That said, I suspect that in our hyper-partisan, polarized political climate, where information is filtered through silos, the book will be dissed by MAGA-hatted men and women who don’t trust a word that appears in the Washington Post. It will be cited by Never Trumpers in the same way a drunk uses a lamppost, more for support than illumination and ignored by millions of Americans who disdain politics and politicians.
... devastating ... Rucker and Leonnig provide new details of the president’s astonishing verbal assault and also the crucial context ... superbly reported and written with clarity, but it is not an easy read. It is relentless, depressing and ultimately numbing; sort of like being an American citizen these past four years ... The authors have dislodged new sources who enable them to describe the thoughts and feelings of players like Tillerson, McMaster, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and others ... Rucker and Leonnig try to be scrupulously fair; they don’t rant; they don’t make judgments or pull back to give a more historic perspective. They leave the most devastating analyses of this presidency to their sources, sometimes in blind quotes provided by Trump staffers, sometimes with questionable effect ... There is another problem with source-driven reporting: Your sourcing may be incomplete. Tillerson, who seems a halting and barely competent leader in accounts based on State Department sources, comes off as decisive and courageous here ... It’s not impossible that this account is accurate...But without Mueller’s side of the story, it is not entirely convincing ... Rucker and Leonnig offer lots of gory details about the president.
... an authoritative, blow-by-blow account of Donald Trump’s first three years in the White House ... Most of the events described will be familiar to readers of the Washington Post, New York Times, and other major news sources. But the reporting by Rucker and Leonnig illuminate the petty and often vindictive quality of the president’s thinking ... In many instances the authors give rich detail on events covered more broadly in the news.
... one of the most-credentialed Trump-books yet to appear ... a noteworthy Trump book is still a Trump book, and by now one other thing is known about them: they’re every bit as sordid, opportunistic, and money-grubbing as their subject. They can’t help but be; if you touch the pitch of a lifelong grifter and conman like Trump, for a book contract, no amount of credentials will save you from being defiled. Rucker and Leonnig might want to raise public consciousness about a whole range of alarming aspects of Trump in power, but they also want to make a quick buck by scare-mongering ... There are plenty of scares on hand in these pages, certainly ... Forty percent of the country’s population un-ironically considers Trump a god; the US Senate has voted to acquit him in an impeachment trial in which his lawyers failed to defend him on the facts; and the prospect of a 2020 Trump landslide looms. Not A Very Stable GeniusNew York Times bestseller.
A Very Stable Genius...churns over the same ground of many volumes that came before. In fairness to Rucker and Leonnig, whose coverage of Trump has won them both Pulitzers, the reason much of their book feels recycled is because of their own standard-setting work on the Trump beat ... Even so, because so much of what is shocking about Trump is done out in the open, the authors are forced to spend an unfortunate number of pages recounting events we all watched, stupefied, as they unfurled live on cable TV ... And yet A Very Stable Genius remains a page-turner even for those who chronicle Trump for a living. As with previous books on Trumpworld, it is the cumulative effect of what has happened in the Trump presidency, the reminder of outrage piled on outrage that shocks the conscience ... On that count, Rucker and Leonnig have done us all a service.