Review of Fire and Fury

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  • Controversial
  • Eye Opening
  • Bold


The first excerpts of journalist Michael Wolff’s exposé of President Donald Trump sparked a firestorm. Wolff reported that adviser Steve Bannon regards Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 Trump Tower meeting with influence peddlers from Moscow and Azerbaijan as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” The president responded by blasting Bannon, downplaying Bannon’s role and calling him “Sloppy Steve.” Trump tweeted that Wolff was “a total loser” who had produced “a fake book.” Trump sued to block publication, thus just about guaranteeing bestseller status.

This is a juicy read, but surprisingly unsurprising. Anyone paying attention knows Wolff’s broad points: Trump is narcissistic, impulsive and uninterested in governance and legislation. His advisers are chosen from among the few people willing to tolerate his quirks. Wolff offers intriguing detail about West Wing infighting, primarily between Bannon and Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. Wolff believes that Trump’s private and public personae are identical. If you’ve read Trump’s tweets and viewed his speeches, you’ve delved as deep as the man goes.

Wolff spent time with Trump in the months before and after his election. After the book’s publication, Trump insisted that he’d never granted Wolff an interview and had rejected his requests. Wolff reports that he “took up something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing.” He describes the Trump White House as freewheeling. No one ever officially granted Wolff access, and nobody ever ordered him to leave. The fact that Wolff gained sustained access underscores his point about the amateurish nature of Trump’s operation at the time.

About the Author

Michael Wolff has received numerous awards for his writing, including two National Magazine Awards. His previous books include Burn Rate and Television Is the New Television.


As Wolff is a notoriously snarky chronicler of the wealthy, any interview subject with a passing knowledge of his work would have been wary. Wolff has had to fend off accusations that he plays fast and loose with the facts. For instance, he reports that when the late Roger Ailes suggested that Trump hire former Speaker of the House John Boehner for his White House staff, Trump replied, “Who’s that?” The passage leaves the impression that Trump didn’t recognize Boehner’s name. However, Trump has played golf with Boehner over the years and mentioned him in tweets – thus suggesting that “Who’s that?” was a joke, forgetfulness or a misunderstanding.

Wolff makes these main points:

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