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  • Victor C. Bolles

Save Your Money

This morning I read a review of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump Whitehouse” in order to get a somewhat objective overview on the controversial book. With all the commentary going around it is difficult to grasp whether this is an important book that should be read or just more of the tabloid exposés found in the grocery store checkout line. I tend to read books that are philosophical in nature or that present new ideas or information. For example, I am now reading Ron Chernow’s biography Grant (2017) and I am learning a lot about U.S. Grant that I did not know before. Previously, I read Principles (2017) by Ray Dalio. Dalio’s book presents some new ideas on running a business and I wanted to see if those principles could be applied to government. But government is very different from business (as president Trump is finding out) and need time to think about Dalio’s concepts before I publish a review.

But I digress. I was curious about Wolff’s book because while I was on the elliptical trainer at the gym one of the multitude of televisions in front of me was tuned in to CNN. The announcers, Alisyn Camerota and Chris Cuomo, were discussing at length the revelations in the book. The TV was muted and I looked at the closed captioning only occasionally (I use my quiet time at the gym to think about what to write later in the day). But as I kept chugging along on elliptically, I watched in wonder as CNN and various talking heads kept discussing this book. They were discussing the book when I got on the trainer and were still discussing it a half-hour later when I got off to go over to the weight machines. Surely any book that could preempt all the other news in the world for a half-hour or more (I didn’t notice how long they continued because the TVs by the weight machines were tuned to ESPN) must be extremely important. So I was curious, but I had my doubts.

The book review basically said that Wolff had reported peoples’ unverified comments about the Trump White House and had not done any fact checking (as Wolff admitted in his Author’s Note in the book). Anything salacious was reprinted without verification while, presumably, anything that showed President Trump or his staff in a positive light was ignored. There are no footnotes or references so that readers can try and check the facts themselves. Wolff says he has many hours of tapes that he recorded to back up his notes made during his chats with White House Staff, which might make some White House staffers very nervous.

The wisdom of allowing a journalist free rein roaming around the White House is doubtful but corresponds to other reports about the White House and President Trump. Let’s face it, President Trump and his closest aides (many of which are family) are amateurs when it comes to running a government and they are paying a price for their blunders. Mr. Wolff’s prowling around the White House Dictaphone in hand came to an end after General Kelly was named Chief of Staff.

The review I read essentially confirmed all that I had previously heard about this book. I also read some of the reader reviews on Amazon, most of which were five stars although most of these reviewers had not read much of the book and had bought it primarily because President Trump tried to block its publication (which guaranteed its success).

I have decided not to read the book or spend the dollars to spite President Trump (primarily because it would enrich Mr. Wolff). Progressive Trump haters are happy that the book confirms their worst suspicions while Trump supporters will ignore it thus no opinions will be changed and no minds enlightened. Save your money and your even more valuable time for a book that will enlighten you and maybe even change your mind. Those are the best kind.

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