The book includes substantive and brilliant chapters on the major challenges facing the country: racial strife, the dominance of tech companies, drug cartels, predatory crime, religious pluralism in public schools. In the end, though, the narrative comes back to the subject of Donald Trump. Is he capable of taking on these challenges? His 'political persona,' writes Mr. Barr on the book’s final page, 'is too negative for the task ahead.' He’s right.
Barr's memoir spans seven decades but is inevitably dominated by his two years as attorney general under former President Donald Trump. His account of those years will be read hungrily by Trump's fiercest defenders and harshest detractors. It is unlikely to satisfy either ... It is just as unlikely to win over Barr's own critics, including those who were angered by the way he left his job with the Trump administration (late in 2020) and those appalled by the way he got it in the first place (nominated late in 2018) ... Barr alternates between castigating and exonerating, between sounding sympathetic and exasperated. He catalogs Trump's offenses yet casts him as the latest victim of dishonest media and 'the radical Left' ... Throughout his book, Barr walks the line between the various warring factions with the moves of highly skilled lawyer. He is a master of reading the law, finding what he needs in it, and presenting his interpretation as the obviously correct one...We also see him often as the legal rhetorician, parsing words carefully to fit his purpose...Of course, this mindset, this show of lawyerly care and precision, will only further infuriate the partisans on either side who simply want him to smite the enemy ... Taking a step back, this is not merely 'another Trump book,' although Trump is a recurring and animating presence. Nor is it merely a screed against Barr's own adversaries (although large portions of it are) ... This is, rather, a Barr book. It is an autobiography with facets, including his recollections of the immigrant hardships of his grandparents, the academic careers of his parents and his own childhood devotion to the bagpipes. Barr clearly regards it as an American success story.
It’s a rare Washington memoir that makes you gasp in the very second sentence ... Throughout, Barr affects a quasi-paternal tone when discussing Trump, as if the president were a naughty but good-hearted adolescent ... Overall, his views reflect the party line at Fox News, which, curiously, he does not mention in several jeremiads about left-wing domination of the news media.