Top positive review
Fair detailed account of Trump presidency going as far as the Coronavirus response
Reviewed in Australia on 2 November 2020
Author Bob Woodward draws on detailed first-hand accounts among a myriad of participants in the administration and those closely connected to it. Some of the key figures, often from Republican or non-partisan backgrounds, went into service with a sense of duty to the country and a plan to do their jobs in its best interests, only to find themselves undermined by the chaos of the presidency. Trump comes off as a complex figure - in comparison to other pieces, particularly the op-eds - at once obsessed with his persona and optimistic projections, on occasion listening to wise counsel, as when he closed the country, but also ambivalent, denialist and stubborn. Even his friends, or allies, had a better idea of the country's needs and made a determined effort to push Trump in the right direction, at least those featured in the book, but Trump's attitude was unwavering. In the background, the chaotic effects of his presidency are unfolding - the separation of children from families at the border; Trump's trade war; the disruption of norms; the Coronavirus tragedy. In the end, Trump's obsessions consume him. No matter how many people die, how cities descend into chaos after the George Floyd incident, Trump thinks about his poll numbers and reelection. The frustration of Woodward seeps through the pages. He gives him every chance to evaluate the country's situation appropriately and outline a judicious response - Trump deflects, prevaricates. Trump will always be Trump. If anyone gave Trump the chance to portray himself in a positive light without the author's bending the truth, Woodward did. Trump squandered each and every opportunity and repeated his narcissistic rants.