The longtime Republican government official narrates his 519 days as National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, whom he calls "stunningly uninformed" on matters of foreign policy, and enumerates the many instances of incompetence and malfeasance he witnessed in the White House.
As much as you think you know about the arrogance, vanity and sheer incompetence of Trump’s years in the White House, Bolton’s account will still astonish you ... He seems to have collated every Trump rant, reckless phone call and muttered aside. No wonder the White House was so determined to block this book: It eviscerates Trump’s foreign policy record and exposes him, in Bolton’s words, as 'stunningly uninformed' ... The great achievement of this book is that it links the Ukraine fiasco to Trump’s other foreign policy misdeeds ... snarky literary asides scattered throughout the book ... Bolton offers a damning review of nearly every theater of Trump’s foreign policy ... Bolton dishes dirt about everyone he doesn’t like, and it’s a very long list ... Bolton is the hero of nearly every anecdote in the book. Indeed, for a memoir that is startlingly candid about many things, Bolton’s utter lack of self-criticism is one of the book’s significant shortcomings ... Many previous books have revealed Trump’s bizarre machinations and musings, but none so damagingly as this one by a conservative former supporter ... This book ought to be a wake-up call, finally, to Republicans who have slavishly defended Trump and belittled his critics.
... a White House memoir that is the most comprehensive and negative report on the Trump Administration ... The turmoil, conflicts, and egos are all there—from the upheaval in Venezuela, to the erratic and manipulative moves of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, to the showdowns at the G7 summits, the calculated warmongering by Iran, the crazy plan to bring the Taliban to Camp David, and the placating of an authoritarian China that ultimately exposed the world to its lethal lies. But this seasoned public servant also has a great eye for the Washington inside game, and his story is full of wit and wry humor about how he saw it played ... The Trump haters are going to love this book and it may sway just enough of former Trump supporters that it might cost him re-election.
Known as a fastidious note taker, Bolton has filled this book’s nearly 500 pages with minute and often extraneous details, including the time and length of routine meetings and even, at one point, a nap. Underneath it all courses a festering obsession with his enemies ... The book is bloated with self-importance, even though what it mostly recounts is Bolton not being able to accomplish very much. It toggles between two discordant registers: exceedingly tedious and slightly unhinged ... His one shrewd storytelling choice was to leave the chapter on Ukraine for the end, as incentive for exhausted readers to stay the course ... In another book by another writer, such anecdotes might land with a stunning force, but Bolton fails to present them that way, leaving them to swim in a stew of superfluous detail ... his chapter on Ukraine is weird, circuitous and generally confounding. It’s full of his usual small-bore detail, but on the bigger, more pointed questions, the sentences get windy and conspicuously opaque ... When it comes to Bolton’s comments on impeachment, the clotted prose, the garbled argument and the sanctimonious defensiveness would seem to indicate some sort of ambivalence on his part—a feeling that he doesn’t seem to have very often.