A few thoughts after finishing the new book Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, about the first nine months or so of the Trump Administration.
One is that many of the points in the Washington Post‘s review of it, were on target. It was journalistically iffy: There was little clarity about the source of much of the material, or the background. (One long scene happened, apparently but not made clear in the book, at a house party Wolff held.) There were curious gaps and omissions; there were significant elisions. In a number of cases, conflicting explanations or descriptions were offered, with no effort to determine which of them might be, at least, most true. And so on.
With all that true, there are some other things worth saying about it (and reasons why reading the book isn’t a waste of time).
One is that, while no one should be shocked if some material in it doesn’t hold up, evidently, at least so far, the large bulk of it does. Don’t take it all to the bank; but as for providing a broad, rough picture, it seems to do the job.
It is published in book form, but it seems more like quick, journalistic writing, more an impression (segments are reminiscent, sans the style, of some of Hunter Thompson’s political pieces). It was done fast, in a hurry, probably in part to keep from seeming out of date in months to come. But that does give it some immediacy.
Generally, it matches up with, and reflects, a good deal of the reporting that’s been done in recent months. That means the outline of the book doesn’t tell us much new, that only the details are really fresh. Still, the details, in aggregate (and recognizing that some of them may not endure) provide a good deal of depth and understanding about the dynamics inside the White House. The stories we’ve seen in established publications have a lot more depth after this new book is absorbed.
There’s some good, useful background about the key figures involved, too, that many people may not have known.
And it is entertaining.
It’s worth a read. Add to that a cautionary note: Don’t take it all to the bank. But . . . it’s with factoring in, not as any kind of definitive take, not as a finely documented record of the time and place, but as a partial, immediate, temporary piece of the story. Something else we can draw on, in addition to other sources, as we try to figure out in years ahead just what happened. – rs