Sunday, January 21, 2018

Fire and Fury

Like a lot of America (according to the most recent sales figures I could find online, over a million hardcover readers, 250,000 e-readers, and 100,000 audiobook listeners), I spent some time at the beginning of the month reading Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury.

Fire and Fury

I was one of the people fortunate enough to order my Amazon copy before it went on backorder, so I got mine at the original release date and then spent a week reading it. Now that I've finished it, there's very little I can tell you about it that you haven't already heard. Most of my friends asked me to please share the good parts, but if you watched the news the week it came out, or read an article about the book, then you've heard all of the good parts. Everyone picked the same twenty or so excerpts and stories, because they really are the twenty or so best excerpts and stories, and almost all of them come from the first 100 pages.

With that in mind, here are my thoughts on the very first book that my mom and I have ever bought and been reading at the exact same time.

1) It needed a better copy editor. Parts of this feel rushed, and in the hardcover (the version I read) there are typos, accidental homophone switches, and I'm pretty sure I read at least once sentence that didn't have a verb. (I wish I'd marked the page.) The writing itself could also be better. One of my friends gushed, "It's like All the President's Men, but written by Regina George!"

As a person who has read "All the President's Men" and who is very familiar with the works of Regina George, I just have to say no.

This comparison is not appropriate.

Regina George was gossipy, vicious, and convinced of her own importance, but she was also smart. She had cunning. This book is "All the President's Men" by Gretchen Wieners. All the gossip, none of the smarts. Anecdotes are delivered bluntly and chronologically. There's no finesse, and no attempt at building a plot. Wolff really did just sit down and type out everything he heard.

2) The only story in here that I haven't seen mentioned in the media and thought was interesting was that Anna Wintour, famous editor of "Vogue" and real life inspiration for Miranda Priestly in "The Devil Wears Prada", visited Trump Tower during the post-election, pre-Inauguration transition period to try to secure the position of Ambassador to the United Kingdom. According to the book, she also did the same thing to President Obama.

3) This book has a surprising amount of backstory. If you're not sure how Steve Bannon got attached to the campaign and ended up in the White House, how Kellyanne Conway jumped from the Cruz campaign to the top of the current administration, or who the Mercers are, this book will do a lot to clear that up for you. While people have attacked the accuracy of some of the book, nobody has attacked those pieces, so I assume it is a fairly accurate history lesson.

4) "Jarvanka" is a wonderful nickname.

5) Jarvanka, if the book is to be believed, somehow still imagine themselves to be liberal Democrats despite being key players in this administration. They do not seem to understand that their brand is permanently tainted. I imagine this is a consequence of being so wealthy that you are insulated from direct criticism.

6) So much of this administration's behavior, and the stories that keep coming out in the news of secret meetings, financial entanglements, and botched security clearances, among other things, can be explained by the book's basic premise that this campaign never expected to win. They didn't care who they were actually meeting with, because they never imagined that their meetings would be scrutinized. Who looks at who the losers talked to? He never released his tax returns because he never imagined that his finances would actually matter. That's why there was no plan to divest from businesses, or to hire a staff, or to fill a slate of appointments. They didn't think any of it would be necessary.

So... was this a good book?

I think so. It was interesting, and if even half of it is true, it was very enlightening. I'm sure it won't be the only book about this administration, but I doubt any of the others will make this big of a splash.

1 comment:

Judi said...

Just when I thought I couldn't enjoy your writing more, I find your blog and there is "Mean Girls" discussion in a blog about the "president." Amazingness.