... an attempt to capture the madness that is the Trump presidency and the danger to democracy it poses. Aided by measured prose and healthy skepticism, Karl succeeds ... Well-organized and respectfully written before the pandemic, Front Row at the Trump Show conveys the chaos and the characters that inhabit the president’s universe.
... Karl follows Trump in his first years as president, reporting with accuracy and clarity but little new insight. To be fair, it's not Karl's fault that we've visited these spots again and again like weary pilgrims traversing the Via Dolorosa ... Karl's book happily does not, as many other accounts do, over-rely on former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who, because of his willingness to give interviews, has managed to enshrine his version of events as public record. We also get mercifully little palace intrigue — Karl knows better than to let White House insiders use his book to sound off anonymously about their enemies ... Karl's book is irritatingly unspecific ... Karl's exclusive coverage of a conversation about Charlottesville in which Trump praised Confederate generals would feel more urgent if Trump had not said more or less the same thing a few days later, in front of cameras ... Karl's purportedly hard-won insights, too, are discernible by anyone with the slightest interest in politics ... in the sheer obviousness of his account, Karl inadvertently points to a larger and more alarming truth: We are all of us, always, in the front row at the Trump show now.
One senses in this account that, like many others, Karl is both attracted and somewhat repelled by Trump largely because of his propensity to lie ... Karl, writing before the coronavirus outbreak, seems to argue that some reporters have been too tough on Trump ... Karl’s book is chiefly a compilation of his encounters and interviews with Trump and members of his staff. There is far too much recounting, often in somewhat tedious detail, of Karl’s daily coverage of Trump ... It’s an account of things we have mostly seen and heard before, and it lacks analysis of the larger issues Trump and his presidency represent.