... 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.
... earnest and diligent, to a fault ... alas, reads like 300 daily newspaper articles taped together so that they resemble an inky Kerouacian scroll ... Perhaps it’s not the authors’ fault that I Alone Can Fix It is grueling. It may be that a reader, having survived Covid-19, 'stop the steal' and the bear-spray wielders, and feeling a certain amount of relief...is uneager to rummage so soon through a dense, just-the-facts scrapbook of a dismal year ... A primary and not insignificant achievement in I Alone Can Fix It, however, is its bravura introduction of a new American hero, a man who has heretofore not received a great deal of attention: Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A better title for this book might have been Mr. Milley Goes to Washington.
... a comprehensive if stilted rundown of the tweetstorms, turf wars, denialism, and desperation that roiled the Trump administration from January 2020 to January 2021. It’s a sweeping study of bureaucratic dysfunction ... Unfortunately, the book’s moment-by-moment accumulation of detail grows dull at times, and the desire of Leonnig and Rucker’s largely anonymous sources to shift blame and preserve their own reputations makes it hard to parse what actually happened during controversial events such as the violent removal of protestors from Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square for a Trump photo op. This deeply sourced first draft of history is long on access but short on definitive insights.