Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who found himself at the center of a firestorm for his decision to report the infamous phone call that led to Donald Trump's presidential impeachment, tells his own story for the first time.
The subtitle of Here, Right Matters is An American Story, and therein lies the memoir’s remarkable value ... The second lynchpin in this amazingly interesting life, especially when you consider that he is only forty-six as I write, is when Alexander met Rachel Cartmill ... their story is charming and moving and has its share of tragedy. But to see them rise to the challenge of facing evil...is riveting ... although I don’t usually have much interest in the military, the facts and twists and turns about the American armed forces that I learned from Here, Right Matters are fascinating ... So here is a book that instructs as it entertains, that your teenaged grandchildren can enjoy whatever their politics. Its narrative voice is appealing as the round-faced man who so bravely stood before the world when he was called to testify, and who tenderly reassured his worried father (who voted for Trump, by the way) that, in the end, this is a democracy that will stand by those who tell the truth.
Vindman’s story really hits its stride with its discussion of the fateful telephone call and its aftermath. Even those who know the details of Trump’s impeachment will find it chilling to hear them related by one of the event’s chief figures. At the same time, they will likely be disheartened to learn of those who failed to stand by Vindman during his ordeal ... Perhaps most moving are the questions Vindman asked himself when he considered leaving what increasingly appeared to be a dead-end career in the Army. How would he provide for his family? What purpose would his life serve? Equally gut-wrenching, but in a different way, are his accounts of the many who made the opposite choice—those whose careerism or narrowly conceived professionalism led them to go along with Trump’s chicanery ... In the end, beyond explaining why he did the right thing, Vindman seems to have another goal in telling his story. He is reminding, or rather cajoling, Americans to remember who they are, or at least who he thinks they are.
Here, Right Matters is not an especially riveting narrative. Vindman moves too quickly through some of the most intriguing parts of his biography and the ways in which service shaped his character. The early chapters focus too much on traditional military stories along with italicized axioms, often drained of the personal elements that made him so compelling when he appeared on the public stage ... There are, however, notable contributions to understanding the scandal. More than most other works, Vindman’s book explains with clarity how far the president departed from U.S. policies toward Russia, including his own administration’s. Vindman’s regional knowledge allows him to unpack the reasons that so many Democrats thought Trump’s phone conversation should be the basis of the nation’s third presidential impeachment. In meticulous fashion, he details the stunning number of high-ranking officials—such as Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union—who were in on the game.