For a long while I’ve thought Donald Trump was the stupidest person ever to be elected President of the United States, but Michael Wolff’s book opened my eyes: now I think he’s one of the stupidest people alive.
And not just stupid! Willful, petty, cruel, belligerent, incurious, capricious, infantile, and dogmatic, for starters, a thesaurusful of poisonous adjectives: basically every quality you wouldn’t want in the lowest-level employee, let alone the most powerful person on Earth.
“Fire and Fury” isn’t straight reportage: it often has a gossipy, opinionated feel, and I found myself flagging passage after passage that seemed to perfectly encapsulate Trump’s warped psychology (“His was a zero-sum ecosystem. In the world of Trump, everything he deemed of value either accrued to him or had been robbed from him”) or the never-ending struggle for power in the new administration:
“Aligned with Tillerson were the three generals, Mattis, McMasters, and Kelly, each seeing themselves as representing maturity, stability, and restraint. And each, of course, was resented by Trump for it. The suggestion that any or all of these men might be more focused and even-tempered than Trump himself was cause for sulking and tantrums on the president’s part.”
Wolff is not a great writer: his can’t seem to settle on a style, and veers between matter-of-fact and smirkingly catty (and frankly he would have been better off with more of the latter). He could have used a lot more editing, he skimps dreadfully on the details (Trump’s catastrophic address to the Boy Scout Jamboree deserved a few fleshed-out pages rather than a passing reference), and he puts words into people’s mouths and thoughts into their heads that he could not possibly have been privy to. But whatever the flaws, he’s done a great service by putting it all in one place.