Gideon Haigh reviews 'Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House' by Michael Wolff

Gideon Haigh reviews 'Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House' by Michael Wolff

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

by Michael Wolff

Hachette, $32.99 pb, 333 pp, 9781408711392

In his new account of Donald Trump’s presidency, Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff describes how Trump’s ‘adviser’ Steve Bannon counselled fellow White House newbies to read The Best and The Brightest as preparation for their administration’s tasks. Rarely for the mordant Bannon, his enthusiasm for David Halberstam’s 1972 classic of the West Wing mandarinate who mangled the Vietnam War seems have been unfeigned and unironic. ‘A very moving experience reading this book,’ Wolff quotes Bannon as saying, ‘It makes the world clear, amazing characters and all true.’

Is anyone likely to say the same of Wolff’s rapid-fire reportage of the Trump White House? Not in forty-five years, that’s for sure; maybe, at a pinch, for forty-five minutes. The book has apparently already sold nearly two million copies, benefiting enormously from Trump’s reflex threats of legal action and suppression. Yet so extensively have its contents been parsed that the very little new in it already seems old, while the old lies dead on the page. Trump is a deluded solipsist surrounded by cretinous enablers and epigones. Colour me amazed.

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Gideon Haigh

Gideon Haigh

Gideon Haigh has been a journalist for thirty-four years, and now works mainly for The Australian and The Times. His most recent book is A Scandal in Bohemia: The life and death of Mollie Dean (2018). His other books include Father & Daughter, a collection of stories with his eight-year-old daughter Cecilia (2018), and The Office: A hardworking history (2012).

Published in March 2018, no. 399