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Fear: Trump in the White House

a book by Bob Woodward

(our site's book review)

A Harrowing Portrait of the Trump Presidency

The Amazon blurb says that the book is “Explosive.”—The Washington Post
“Devastating.”—The New Yorker
“Unprecedented.”—CNN

THE INSIDE STORY ON PRESIDENT TRUMP, AS ONLY BOB WOODWARD CAN TELL IT

With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence.

Fear: Trump in the White House is the most intimate portrait of a sitting president ever published during the president’s first years in office.

There was no shortage of reviewers who were eager to give their two cents worth about Bob Woodward's book Fear: Trump in the White House:

“A harrowing portrait of the Trump presidency . . . Again and again, Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.”—Phillip Rucker and Robert Costa, The Washington Post

“A damning picture of the current presidency.”—David Martin, CBS News

“An unprecedented inside-the-room look through the eyes of the President's inner circle. . . . stunning.”—CNN

Fear is a devastating reported account of the Trump Presidency
Fear is a devastating reported account of the Trump Presidency

“A devastating reported account of the Trump Presidency that will be consulted as a first draft of the grim history it portrays . . . What Woodward has written is not just the story of a deeply flawed President but also, finally, an account of what those surrounding him have chosen to do about it.”—Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker

Fear's Timing Could Not Be More Critical for a Nation Exhausted by Tweets and Spin

“Fear is Woodward at his best, the quintessential investigative reporter with an eye for detail and an uncanny ability to get key players to ensure that their perspective is etched into history. Its timing could not be more critical for a nation exhausted by tweets and spin, and trying to assess the danger to democracy posed by a presidency that shatters its norms and demeans its institutions.”—John Diaz, San Francisco Chronicle

“In an age of ‘alternative facts’ and corrosive tweets about ‘fake news,’ Woodward is truth’s gold standard. . . . explosive . . . devastating . . . jaw-dropping.”—Jill Abramson, The Washington Post

“Woodward's latest book shows the administration is broken, and yet what comes next could be even worse.”—David A. Graham, The Atlantic

“[Woodward] is the master and I'd trust him over politicians of either party any day of the week.”—Peter Baker

“Woodward . . . depicts the Trump White House as a byzantine, treacherous, often out-of-control operation . . . Mr. Woodward’s book has unsettled the administration and the president in part because it is clear that the author has spoken with so many current and former officials.”—Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman, New York Times

Truth — Rest In Peace
Truth — Rest In Peace

Woodward Cautions "I Think People Better Wake Up to the Nature of the War on Truth and Its Consequence."

"Fear: Trump in the White House is a remarkable feat of reporting conveyed in prose that couldn’t be called literary. But they resemble one another in their atmosphere of antic dread—the claustrophobic, gut-tightening sense that power has come utterly unmoored from reality, and no one in the palace is safe from the wild impulses of the ruler. . . . Yet even Nixon—drunk late at night and talking to paintings in the White House residence—seems relatively sane and pitiable compared with Donald Trump. You half expect to find Woodward’s Trump ordering the execution of the entire National Security Council, declaring himself a god on Twitter, then anointing his daughter as heir to the throne." (Source: With “Fear” and Trump, Bob Woodward Has a Bookend to the Nixon Story, George Packer, the New Yorker)

You half expect to find Woodward’s Trump ordering the execution of the entire National Security Council, declaring himself a god on Twitter, then anointing his daughter as heir to the throne
You half expect to find Woodward’s Trump ordering the execution of the entire National Security Council, declaring himself a god on Twitter, then anointing his daughter as heir to the throne

42% of Americans Say President Donald Trump Should Be Impeached and Removed from Office—Nixon Was at 43% Before They Dumped Him

Fear in the Trump White House is mostly Trump's: "42% of Americans say President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office. What makes it remarkable is that he's on par with President Richard Nixon, who 43% of Americans said should be impeached and removed from office in a March 1974 Harris poll . . . The 43% supporting Nixon's impeachment in that Harris poll, by the way, is much higher than the 29% who supported impeachment for President Bill Clinton in 1998. Or, for that matter, the similar number who wanted Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush impeached. . . . 87% of Republicans and people who lean toward Republicans oppose [impeachment], while 71% of Democrats support it." (Source: There's nearly a Nixon '74 level of public support for impeaching Trump, Z. Byron Wolf, CNN)

"Most of us probably think we have Trump's number—that there is little need to fill in the details of the slow-motion car crash that is the Trump presidency. . . Trump continually loses his temper and belittles those around him. If you believe Woodward's reporting, and I do, the reason that many remain is that they are genuinely trying to do what is best for the country." (Source: 5 Surprising Conclusions from Woodward's ‘Fear', Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed)

Most of us probably think we have Trump's number—that there is little need to fill in the details of the slow-motion car crash that is the Trump presidency
Most of us probably think we have Trump's number—that there is little need to fill in the details of the slow-motion car crash that is the Trump presidency

“If we are not able to ask skeptical questions … to interrogate those who tell us something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority … then we are up for grabs for the next charlatan, political or religious, who comes rambling along,” said Carl Sagan in 1996. Woodward gives us the needed facts to elicit in ourselves skeptical questions about a severely troubled presidency—essential in a functioning democracy.


Bob Woodward Is an Associate Editor at The Washington Post

Bob Woodward is an associate editor at The Washington Post, where he has worked for forty-seven years. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first for the Post’s coverage of the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein, and second in 2003 as the lead reporter for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has authored or coauthored eighteen books, all of which have been national nonfiction bestsellers. Twelve of those have been #1 national bestsellers.

Woodward says that "Under a treaty dating back to the 1950s, the United States stationed 28,500 U.S. troops in the South and operated the most highly classified and sensitive Special Access Programs (SAP), which provided sophisticated Top Secret, codeword intelligence and military capabilities. North Korean ICBM missiles now had the capability to carry a nuclear weapon, perhaps to the American homeland. A missile from North Korea would take 38 minutes to reach Los Angeles.

Kim Jong-un leads by fear, and Trump is doing the same, in his own distinctive way bordering on demagoguery
Kim Jong-un leads by fear, and Trump is doing the same, in his own distinctive way bordering on demagoguery

"These programs enabled the United States to detect an ICBM launch in North Korea within seven seconds. The equivalent capability in Alaska took 15 minutes—an astonishing time differential.

"The ability to detect a launch in seven seconds would give the United States military the time to shoot down a North Korean missile. It is perhaps the most important and most secret operation in the United States government. The American presence in South Korea represents the essence of national security."

The ability to detect a launch in seven seconds would give the United States military the time to shoot down a North Korean missile—it is perhaps the most important and most secret operation in the United States government
The ability to detect a launch in seven seconds would give the United States military the time to shoot down a North Korean missile—it is perhaps the most important and most secret operation in the United States government

Trump's So Ignorant He'll Wreck the World by Accident If He's Not Babysat

Gary Cohn removed a letter from Trump's desk, a one-page draft letter from the president addressed to the president of South Korea, terminating the United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement, known as KORUS. This all stemmed from Trump’s anger that the United States had an $18 billion annual trade deficit with South Korea and was spending $3.5 billion a year to keep U.S. troops there.

Trump didn't have the maturity to be involved with these types of issues. It is not that he thought a few dollars of deficit were more important than our nation's security and safety. It's just that he rarely let thought interfere with his emotional reactions to things, and these emotional reactions are how he made presidential decisions. Like a spoiled child, he wanted things his way and to his toddler mind, that is what mattered, not security, safety, or anything—or anyone—else. You do what I say or I'll make you sorry, whined the presidential toddler. This was an extremely dangerous situation for the country and the world.

Despite almost daily reports of chaos and discord in the White House, the public did not know how dangerous the White House situation actually was. Trump was always changing moods, rarely logical, erratic, and he rarely listened to others because he was too busy talking himself—as if his incoherent blathering was his way of playacting at being the president. He would get in a bad mood, something large or small would infuriate him, and he would say about the KORUS trade agreement, “We’re withdrawing today.” He enjoyed scaring those under him. This is a demagogic tactic.

Our president plays childish games with the fate of the world, and there is no sign that his moral compass is in any way affected—nor his rational compass. It does little good for those around the president to be thinkers and planners who understand the world and who inform Trump about things if Trump's mind cannot concentrate on what they are saying because he's distracted by his inner dialog unrelated to the matter at hand but full of golf, bad press from the Fake News media, and Hannity's latest conspiracy theory. So, to summarize, Trump cannot listen, he cannot read, he cannot think, and he cannot learn—i.e., he is a barely functional human being. If that doesn't define the worst-case scenario for the president of the USA, we don't know what would.

If the readers haven’t heard about everything in this book already, then they're willfully sticking their heads in the sand and aren't going to buy this book anyway
If the readers haven’t heard about everything in this book already, then they're willfully sticking their heads in the sand and aren't going to buy this book anyway

This is a good, well-writen book. But in spite of all the teeth gnashing and hand wringing about this book, if the readers haven’t heard about most everything in this book already, then they're willfully sticking their heads in the sand and aren't going to buy this book anyway. Trump is a baby with a shotgun, and he needs to be removed before he pushes the world over the edge of a cliff.

Trump is a baby with a shotgun, and he needs to be removed before he pushes the world over the edge of a cliff
Trump is a baby with a shotgun, and he needs to be removed before he pushes the world over the edge of a cliff


'It's pointless to try to convince him of anything. He's gone off the rails. We're in crazytown'
'It's pointless to try to convince him of anything. He's gone off the rails. We're in crazytown'

John Kelly Said "Trump's Gone Off the Rails—We're in Crazytown"

"It's pointless to try to convince him of anything. He's gone off the rails. We're in crazytown," John Kelly is quoted as saying about Trump in Woodward's new 448-page book, Fear: Trump in the White House. Kelly added, "I don't even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I've ever had." And Rob Porter, an attorney and the staff secretary and organizer of presidential paperwork, said that “A third of my job was trying to react to some of the really dangerous ideas that he had and try to give him reasons to believe that maybe they weren’t such good ideas.”

"Woodword uses the phrase 'nervous breakdown.' He talks about an administrative coup d'état," [Robert] Costa said on MSNBC Tuesday afternoon. "You see an administration that's struggling to contain and guide their own president. Reluctant to say anything publicly, but privately going so far as to take trade agreements off his desk."

The president acted like — and had the understanding of — 'a fifth- or sixth-grader,'
The president acted like — and had the understanding of — 'a fifth- or sixth-grader,'" said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis


Trump gets his way or has a tantrum, then opts for a tweetstorm, then emotionally unloads on Hannity and those around the White House
Trump gets his way or has a tantrum, then opts for a tweetstorm, then emotionally unloads on Hannity and those around the White House

" . . . the president acted like — and had the understanding of — 'a fifth- or sixth-grader.'" said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Trump gets his way or has a tantrum, them opts for a tweetstorm, then emotionally unloads on Hannity and those around the White House. No wonder the First Lady was reportedly in tears when Trump won the election. What came next was predictable, and not in a good way.

Trump’s personal lawyer was afraid world leaders would think the president was a ‘dumbbell’. Trump called Sessions ‘mentally retarded’. Trump is clueless that orders were removed from his desk. Trump regretted walking back his comments on Charlottesville. These are some of the bombshells in Woodward's book. (Source from "It's pointless" to here: Bob Woodward on Trump: Six explosive excerpts from his new book ‘Fear’, Rob Tornoe, Philly)

White supremacists clash with police (36421659232)
Charlottesville riots

In August 2017, alt-right groups attended a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, intended to unify various white nationalist factions. During the rally, a white supremacist demonstrator drove his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring 19. Since the mid-2010s, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have considered white supremacist violence to be the leading threat of domestic terrorism in the United States, and alt-right as well as alt-left group membership has multiplied.

This country does not need racism or violence or protest violence. It does not need a black racist president who fanned racist flames when it was his job to cool them. It does not need a white racist, sexist, alt-right president who sees no difference between the Charlottesville protesters supporting Nazi and neo-nazi causes and racism, antisemitism, and xenophobia and the counter-protesters who were against these things.


This Book Is Not Entitled Fear without Good Cause—It Will Scare the Pants Off You

This book is not entitled Fear without good cause
This book is not entitled Fear without good cause


Fear will make the weak or cowardly throw themselves down a flight of stairs—the book will scare the pants off you
Fear will make the weak or cowardly throw themselves down a flight of stairs—the book will scare the pants off you

"The reality is sobering. Our form of government clearly did not work as the framers intended when we elected the man-child Donald, who never should have been accorded presidential powers. Donald the blowhard, malignant narcissist, sociopath, perpetual liar (mixed with delusion), meant to be a reality tv star and hustler, not leader of the free world. The evidence was out there…..but somehow here we are, on the self-induced path to our own destruction. Who would have thought that American supremacy could end in this way? I am thankful to Woodward for Fear. It is a highly detailed account that confirms our suspicions about Trump while alerting us to the real and present danger posed every day he remains in office. It is up to us, now, to get him out." (Source: One of the Most Important Books of Our Lifetimes, Lynn Hoover, Amazon reviewer)


Pence Is a Man Who Believes Heaven and Earth Have Conspired to Place Him a Heartbeat—or an Impeachment Vote—Away from the Presidency

Mike Pence official portrait
Mike Pence, the Christian supremacist

Mike Pence, the Christian supremacist, has successfully advanced his regressive fundamentalist Christian revamping of American society, including through judicial right-wing appointments and the adoption of fundamentalist social policies, such as curtailing legal abortions and even limiting contraception access. So when Trump gets impeached, we'll be faced with a great threat to our rights and freedoms as Pence opts for setting us on the road to Christian theocracy with only Pence between us and God. Not a pleasant prospect.

Why can't people finally realize that they need to keep their religious beliefs private and NOT LAY THEM ON THE REST OF US! Not even Christians want oppression or repression, especially from the likes of Pence. Pence is a man who believes heaven and Earth have conspired to place him a heartbeat—or an impeachment vote—away from the presidency. Pence's self-appointed role is bringing his evangelical-Christian worldview to public policy. Once again, evangelicals are trying to cram THEIR beliefs down OUR unwilling throats! (Source: God’s Plan for Mike Pence, McKay Coppins, the Atlantic)

In the 1930's FDR restrained a right-wing court with the support of a majority of U.S. voters. This can happen again if liberals and democrats and progressives work together.

Reince Priebus described Trump’s bedroom—where he watches cable news and writes furious tweets—as 'the devil’s workshop'
Reince Priebus described Trump’s bedroom—where he watches cable news and writes furious tweets—as 'the devil’s workshop'

Reince Priebus described Trump’s bedroom—where he watches cable news and writes furious tweets—as “the devil’s workshop.” Trump said Priebus was “like a little rat. He just scurries around.”

Trump said Priebus was 'like a little rat. He just scurries around'
Trump said Priebus was 'like a little rat. He just scurries around'