Even recognizing the importance of this book as a careful documentation of what is certain to be one of the most significant presidencies in American history, and respectful of Bob Woodward’s well-earned reputation for journalistic integrity – I still could not finish this book. And only awarded it three stars on Goodreads. This is the first time I am reviewing a book I didn’t complete.
I diligently read about 140 pages (out of 350). But as pages went by, I slowly came to realize I was not learning anything new:
• I already observed from President Trump himself that he is a mercurial person, with a super-short attention span, who acts impulsively, out of gut instinct rather than careful and reasoned consideration.
• I have already read that he is not particularly worldly or well-educated and appears unable or unwilling to consider the complexities or nuances behind the issues brought before him.
• I believe him to be a man of limited intellect, whose opinions he proudly admits were formed decades ago, long before globalization changed the face of world economies and politics.
In FEAR, Woodward documents example after example that prove each of these points. And yes, this is the first time I was hearing from members of Trump’s own team, speaking directly about their efforts to protect the country from its own President’s incompetence. Or coach each other, behind the scenes, on how best to “handle” the President’s moods and shortcomings. But, honesty, by page 140, it simply became boring. I was reading repetitive descriptions of meeting after meeting, all with different players but the same essential point – Trump wants to do something ill-advised and those around him work frantically to prevent it. Over and over and over again.
I finally realized I was simply getting upset every time I sat down to read. And since feeling upset is not the goal of my recreational reading, I decided, finally, to stop. To save myself any more useless fear and worry.
I am grateful to Woodward for exposing Richard Nixon’s role in the Watergate scandal. I commend Woodward for his diligent work in creating this deeply troubling portrait of our President. I believe all the anecdotes he so carefully documents in FEAR. And deep down, I admit I’m grateful there are people near Trump trying to minimize damage.
But for me, daily media exposure to frantic Tweets, scapegoating and firings, and divisive, disrespectful and angry language — all coming from the Commander-in-Chief– are sufficient fuel to keep me riled up. Without this book.
I guess I prefer books that offer more escapism than reality.