Rage

by Bob Woodward

Hardcover, 2020

Publication

Simon & Schuster (2020), Edition: Illustrated, 480 pages

Description

Biography & Autobiography. Politics. Nonfiction. HTML:Rage is an unprecedented and intimate tour de force of new reporting on the Trump presidency facing a global pandemic, economic disaster and racial unrest. Woodward, the #1 international bestselling author of Fear: Trump in the White House, has uncovered the precise moment the president was warned that the Covid-19 epidemic would be the biggest national security threat to his presidency. In dramatic detail, Woodward takes readers into the Oval Office as Trump's head pops up when he is told in January 2020 that the pandemic could reach the scale of the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed 675,000 Americans. In 17 on-the-record interviews with Woodward over seven volatile months??an utterly vivid window into Trump's mind??the president provides a self-portrait that is part denial and part combative interchange mixed with surprising moments of doubt as he glimpses the perils in the presidency and what he calls the "dynamite behind every door." At key decision points, Rage shows how Trump's responses to the crises of 2020 were rooted in the instincts, habits and style he developed during his first three years as president. Revisiting the earliest days of the Trump presidency, Rage reveals how Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats struggled to keep the country safe as the president dismantled any semblance of collegial national security decision making. Rage draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand witnesses as well as participants' notes, emails, diaries, calendars and confidential documents. Woodward obtained 25 never-seen personal letters exchanged between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who describes the bond between the two leaders as out of a "fantasy film." Trump insists to Woodward he will triumph over Covid-19 and the economic calamity. "Don't worry about it, Bob. Okay?" Trump told the author in July. "Don't worry about it. We'll get to do another book. You'll find I was right." Includes excerpts from Bob Woodward's interviews with President Donald J. Trump for Rage… (more)

Media reviews

Policy purists may prefer the veteran journalist Bob Woodward's Rage (Simon & Schuster), a densely reported account of Trump's latter years in office enlivened by often rambling conversations with the man himself. Watching him cling on by his fingernails this November, one struggles to dispute Mary
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[Trump]'s belief that Trump's greatest fear is losing face in public.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member Clara53
Why did Trump agree to be interviewed by Bob Woodward after this respected journalist exposed him so transparently in "Fear. Trump in the White House"?... We'll never know. But Woodward has proven himself to be very trustworthy as a political writer, and "Rage" is as real and true to the facts as
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any of his books (with taped interviews to prove it). If you don't have time to read the whole book, at least read The Epilogue - it's Trump's presidency in a nutshell, in a truly insightful way, with a final verdict at the end.
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LibraryThing member LyndaInOregon
Woodward's second book about the Trump presidency sets out to talk about the handling and political impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, but spends its first half discussing the early day of Trump's administration.

The turnover in top staff is given a narrower but deeper look than in "Fear", which
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is an improvement over the earlier book. In that one, characters came and went so quickly that one seriously needed a flowchart.

Woodward also takes a close and chilling look at Trump's incredibly dangerous ego-dance with North Korea's Kim Jung Un, and discusses just how close we were to nuclear war when these two incredibly powerful and incredibly infantile men set out to impress one another.
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LibraryThing member keylawk
Since reporting on the Watergate burglary for the Washington Post, Bob Woodward has written 20 books on politics, including profiles of Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and Barack Obama. "Rage" joins the other documentation of Political processes, in Woodward's plainly written journalism.

The book is a
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careful recitation of facts drawn from identified sources, including 17 on-the-record interviews with Donald Trump over seven months during which Trump was actively tweeting and igniting troubles. For example, on January 20, 2020, Woodward was in the Oval Office with Trump. Woodward pinpoints the moment Trump was informed that the world was facing a global pandemic. Details of pending economic disaster, resource depletion and allocation, were spelled out by the staff. Trump, who is referred to as the President, dismissed the concerns of his own staff and sources, construed the danger as an attack on his Administration, and blamed the Democrats and racial unrest for the novel Corona virus, COVID-19.

Having previously published an account of the first half of the Trump Administration, Woodward is able to show how Trump's animal responses to the crises of 2020 were rooted in the instincts, habits and style he developed during his first three years as president.

For example, "Rage" recalls, as recorded in "Fear", that Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats "struggled to keep the country safe as the president dismantled any semblance of collegial national security decision making."

In addition to taped interviews with Trump, Woodward drew from hundreds of hours of interviews with other eye and ear witnesses, as well as participants' notes, emails, diaries, calendars and confidential documents.
Woodward was provided with 25 personal letters exchanged between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump fantasizes that he has a bond, the sort of attraction he may have seen in a fantasy film.

Trump tells Woodward that he has already defeated Covid-19, and has created the strongest military and the greatest economy in history. Trump takes full credit. He tells Woodward that there is no economic calamity being suffered by Americans. "Don't worry about it, Bob. Okay?"
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LibraryThing member nyiper
As usual, very, very readable. The last sentence in the Epilogue says it all. The real question is: how does a country recover from what he has done to it...to us...... Unfortunately, who is reading this or watching the shows where it is being discussed? I also finished Hoax and I really thought I
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knew about the powerful influence Fox has over what comes out of Trump's mouth...but turns out it was so much more than I could have imagined. We are living through very frightening times.
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LibraryThing member TooBusyReading
Bob Woodward has a pretty impressive reputation and a pretty impressive history of writing excellent books. This one is no exception. He spent hours in personal conversations with trump, and the book paints a fair picture. I believe he was quite even-handed in his treatment. Trump often mentioned
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that he thought Woodward was going to treat him badly in the book, and that is was probably going to be a terrible book, but he kept talking anyway.

There are details I didn't know that I found interesting. But this is more about trump and his decision making capabilities, or lack thereof. It only enforced my belief that he refuses to take responsibility for anything bad, while gloating over successes, even those that he falsely claimed. It enforced my view that he is someone who likes chaos and division, especially when he is the one to cause it. This is quite a good, open look at #45.

I listened to the audio edition, and it was narrated very well by Robert Petkoff. I'm glad Woodward didn't narrate his own book because he is a better journalist and writer than he is a speaker.

I've also read Woodward's book about trump, Fear, but I think this one is well worth reading even if you have read Fear.
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LibraryThing member RajivC
“Rage” by Bob Woodward is an interesting book. I read through the contents rather quickly, which should give you an idea of how readable it is.

I am not an American, so I was not interested in trying to analyze every little nuance of all the conversations he quoted in the book.

I must confess
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to being bemused how Bob Woodward remembered and record all those conversations, unless he used some recording device.

A problem with so many conversations flowing through a book like this, is that the reader sometimes can miss the strategic element in the book.

It also does not always help in creating a holistic image of Donald Trump. I found Jared Kushner’s comments to be revealing more than most of the other material in the book.

It’s a good book. I don’t know if it is a book that a historian will find useful.
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LibraryThing member maneekuhi
I’ve read a number of Woodward books and I’ve never been disappointed. I thought it might be helpful to some readers considering the purchase of “Rage” to be aware both of some style factors related to his writing and some surprises I encountered in the context of this book. Hence this
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review…..

It is important to remember that Woodward is a journalist first. He is not a historian. And his writing style is that of a journalist’s; I would add that his style is also different from most authors of non-fiction books. So I don’t think of him as a journalist and author. I see him as a journalist who happens to write books occasionally. I find his books to be very readable, in that he quickly gets to the facts of the case. He thinks in terms of who, what, where, when, why, how like any good newspaper guy. He doesn’t reflect unnecessarily long on motivation, religious and moral drivers, etc. He quotes dialog a good bit, especially in “Rage” where he has the tapes. So reading Woodward is nothing like reading Meacham or Chernow. All three are A+, but very different in their approaches to dissecting a subject.

Two big surprises for me in Rage. I thought it would be a “tapes book” much like the books written on the Nixon and LBJ tapes. Tapes from page 1 (my recollection) and mostly nothing but tapes throughout. Nothing but tapes, almost a transcription highlights. Not so with “Rage”. Instead it is a reporting of the Trump presidency from day one, with a bit more focus on late 2019 to the present. Little mention of tapes in the first half. What’s this about? Well, the book isn’t titled “Tapes”, it’s “Rage” and the thread from page one onward is that. Rage. Calculated rage, rage as a way to get things done. OK, should have expected that, a disappointment nevertheless.

Like 99.44% of books on similar subjects, media copies are released on the Tuesday before the Tuesday Pub date, and 2-3 days later we hear all the juicy bits. There were a satisfactory number of them, but as I began reading the day after pub, thank you Amazon Prime, I discovered I had already heard all the really juicy items. I enjoyed the book anyway, Woodward is never boring, but I can’t give more than a 4 given the above. And hats off to Bob W for all his talk show appearances and commentary on the latest nonsense - though I still think he doesn’t look a bit like Robert Redford.
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LibraryThing member VashonJim
I don't think this was one of Woodward's better books, but I do think it may have been the most important. Trump offered him an amazing amount of access, and Woodward recorded all of the details, giving the book a platform regarding Trump that no other writer has had. Woodward used that access to
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paint a damning portrait of our 45th president.
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LibraryThing member linda.marsheells
Incredibly alarming. This book was written by a quality author and is based entirely on 17 TAPED interviews he had with tRump. Well-worth reading but glad i'm done.
Our game show host / president is an insecure, narcissistic bully whose aspiration is to become a dictator....much like his so-called
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friend Putin. God help this country.
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LibraryThing member TheCrow2
Woodward`s second book about Trump if it`s possible is even better than the first. And that`s mainly because this time (God knows why) Trump agreed to give interviews to him. This way even clearer to see the the president`s pathological, narcissistic and dangerous personality.
LibraryThing member Andy_DiMartino
WOW!! Just WOW!!!
LibraryThing member mldavis2
Bob Woodward is an award winning author, multiple Pulitzer Prize winner and best known for his work during the Nixon-Watergate scandal. In this sequel to his book "Fear" on Donald Trump, Woodward offers very few personal opinions, letting his seventeen interviews with Trump, all recorded, speak for
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themselves. The conclusions, based on Trump's own words and answers tell the story. I put it in the "must read" category.
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LibraryThing member KamGeb
It was a very interesting book on Trump. I like the fact that he had actual interviews with Trump and Kushner. I know that with any author you have to always question what is written and nothing can be assumed to be true (except for the actual excerpts from the tapes). I was surprised what a
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positive spin he had on Kushner. I was also surprised that Redfield seemed to come off better than Fauci in the book. One thing I really liked about the book is that he seemed to come up with an explanation why Pence and other well respected Republicans would go along with Trump when Trump doesn't seem to be an honorable man. Overall an interesting book but one that needs to be read with a certain amount of skepticism.
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LibraryThing member arubabookwoman
I really liked All the President's Men (having lived through Watergate as a young woman). And while I know Woodward is an excellent and trusted reporter, I haven't found his books on Trump to be among the better books on the Trump presidency. The consist mostly of news report-like snippets, many of
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which have already appeared in news reports, and I find the books somewhat light on analysis and thoughtfulness. I also find it annoying (though I recognize it is sometimes necessary) that he tends to insert himself in the book as a player.

So when this book was published, the big news that came from it was that Trump knew in the beginning (January or February) how serious the covid virus was/would be, and chose to do nothing, and in fact to lie to the American public about it. And that's about it for new perspective from this book. I also note that he took some flak himself for not making this tidbit known sooner, but that's another story.

So while Woodward is the dean emeritus of the Washington press corp, and he has a certain degree of gravitas, but I've read so many Trump books now I know that there are much better Trump books out there if that's where your interests lie. This book mainly consists of regurgitated news reports.

2 stars
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LibraryThing member MontzaleeW
Rage
By: Bob Woodward
Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
We all know just about everything about the large orange guy that lives in the White House. We know about his daily vomit of lies, tweet storms, his continual chest pounding and patting himself on the back. We know he loves his base, Proud Boys, nice
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fellows like the Nazis, and the white supremacist groups. He claims to love his trumpers too. He gave himself an A on his response on the pandemic he ignored but behind the scenes, what is really happening? That's where the author gives us a real look!
The fat orange guy is just as rotten, or worse, behind the scene! I really didn't think it possible! He almost got us in a war. He could have save 140,000 lives. The economy crashed due to the pandemic he couldn't and wouldn't control! He knew months before! The other tidbits of inside info tells how he can't stand the Christians and his fans! Of course he called them names!
He is not mentally fit to watch my animals yet he is in charge of the lives of all of America! It is such a scary thought! May he lose in November before we lose our democracy. He is dangerous. He knew about the killing of the journalist by the Saudi government. He doesn't care!
That is his motto, I don't care!
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LibraryThing member flourgirl49
Author Bob Woodward kind of jumps around all over the place in this, his second book about the Trump presidency. It's choppy and difficult to get the timeline straight in your head as you're reading. The most interesting portions are the straight quotes from Trump, which give a lot of insight into
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the way his brain works, which is a frightening thing indeed.
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LibraryThing member dbeveridge
A continuation of Woodward's exceptional reporting from inside the Trump White House (in "Fear"), this is a detailed explication of the administration's activities through the summer of 2020, regarding North Korea, racial polarization, the handling of the pandemic, and more. The portrait of Trump
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demonstrates his strengths and his weaknesses, his terrible cynicism, and the inevitable, relentless devolution of the government to align with his big ego (or small ego, depending how you view it). Interesting is the portrait of the reptilian Lindsey Graham, a shape-shifter of Dickensian stature who is a master technician of the American bottom-feeding politics.
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LibraryThing member slsmith101
I’ve read a number of books about Trump and his presidency. Hopefully, this is the last one. “Rage” is one of the better ones - better than “Fear”, Bob Woodward’s first Trump book.

The Epilogue is the best chapter in the book where (unusual for a journalist and especially Woodward) the
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author describes his personal feelings. Here is an excerpt:

“But now, I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘dynamite behind the door’ was in plain sight. It was Trump himself. The oversized personality. The failure to organize. The lack of discipline. The lack of trust in others he had picked, in experts. The undermining or the attempted undermining of so many American institutions. The failure to be a calming, healing voice. The unwillingness to acknowledge error. The failure to do his homework. To extend the olive branch. To listen carefully to others. To craft a plan.’

And the last sentence which may be the understatement of the year: “Trump is the wrong man for the job.”
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LibraryThing member stevesbookstuff
Excellent, in-depth journalistic take on the Trump presidency. Unlike Woodward's first Trump book,
"Fear", this one includes interviews with Trump and background information you likely haven't heard elsewhere. The book wraps up in the July 2020 timeframe.

A good portion of the book covers the
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COVID-19 pandemic and Trump's response to it. There are good things that Woodward reports here, that you might not have heard of, or just have forgotten. Which would be understandable given the overwhelming disorganization of the government response, and Trump's rush, in his concerns over his re-election, to declare victory, leading him to resist and contradict the advice of the CDC and NIH.

There is also quite a bit on the death of George Floyd, the protests and Black Lives Matter. All of this part of the book serves to highlight Trump's tone deaf (or worse) response.

A pretty quick read and worth your time.
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LibraryThing member ecw0647
"Rage" by Bob Woodward is quite interesting on numerous levels. For one, I had not realized how competent Mattis was, nor how close we came to war with North Korea. The media have focused on Trump's mendacity with regard to COVID-19, but the real story is how he pulled the rug out from under those
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people he had hired and who were trying to do a good job for America.

It was impossible for these folks to hide from events, nor did they want to, "Mattis had a light in his bathroom at his quarters in Washington that would flash if he was in the shower when the National Event Conference alert came. A bell would also ring in the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen announcing that the conference was standing up because a North Korean missile had been launched or was ready on the launching pad."
Mattis was really concerned about his boss. Mattis had over 7,000 books in his personal library and believed studying and learning was key to developing and making policy decisions. "Mattis believed there were ways for a president to be tough and keep the peace. “But not with the current occupant. Because he doesn’t understand. He has no mental framework or mode for these things. He hasn’t read, you know,” he told an associate. Reading, listening, debating and having a process for weighing alternatives and determining policy were essential, Mattis believed. “I was often trying to impose reason over impulse. And you see where I wasn’t able to, because the tweets would get out there.. ..All the victories,” he said, “were becoming just submerged by this mercurial, capricious tweeting form of decision-making.”

Lots of revealing quotes, all taken from the tapes that Trump egotistically let Woodward make. Woodward had the temerity to suggest that the impeachment hearings and criticism of the Ukraine phone call would have gone away if only Trump had just apologized.

“I have this reputation of not being willing to apologize,” Trump said. “It’s wrong. I will apologize, if I’m wrong.” “When’s the last time you apologized?” “Oh, I don’t know, but I think over a period—I would apologize. Here’s the thing: I’m never wrong. Okay. No, if I’m wrong—if I’m wrong—I believe in apologizing. This was a totally appropriate conversation. It was perfect. And again, if I did something wrong, I would apologize. Okay?”

And Trump truly believes he knows everything and understands everything. In full Lamarckian mode:

He reminded me again of his late uncle, Dr. John Trump, a physicist who taught electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1983. “He was at MIT for 42 years or something. He was a great—so I understand that stuff. You know, genetically.”

As we all know the book was based on extensive interviews -- all taped -- with Trump. One piece that came across clearly from his own words was that Trump claims as accomplishments things that he has only talked about, not actually done, prison reform, fixing COVID, peace in the Middle East, a great trade deal with China, etc.

I recommend reading this book in concert with I Alone Can Fix It.
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LibraryThing member writemoves
Rage is how I felt while reading this book. This is not the first book that I have read about the Trump presidency. I focused on the experiences of three of Trump's appointees: Rex Tillerson, James Mattis and Dan Coates. All three were very capable men. All three were also very reluctant to accept
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Trump's selection to be in his cabinet. All three realized that Trump could not be trusted and was not up to the job of being president. All three were summarily dismissed by Trump.

Trump's handling of the coronavirus and North Korea are particularly painful to read.

As an aside, I put off reading this book until after the election and Trump's defeat. Based on news reports about the book, I realized that it would probably put me into a "rage” also. This book is well researched and carries a lot of credibility in terms of its reporting and analysis.

Bob Woodward has summarized his feelings about Trump below…

I thought back to the conversation with Trump on February 7 when he mentioned the "dynamite behind every door," the unexpected explosion that could change everything. He was apparently thinking about some external event that would affect the Trump presidency.

But now, I've come to the conclusion that the dynamite behind the door was in plain sight. It was Trump himself. The oversized personality. The failure to organize. The lack of discipline. The lack of trust in others he had picked, in experts. The undermining or the attempted under minding of so many American institutions. The failure to be a calming, healing Voice. The unwillingness to acknowledge her. The failure to do his homework. To extend the olive branch. To listen carefully to others. To craft a plan.

Trump talked a lot. Almost incessantly. So much that he weakened the microphone of the presidency and the bully pulpit, and too many people no longer trusted what he said. Half or more of the country seem to be in a perpetual rage about him, and he seemed to enjoy it.

When his performance as president is taken in it's entirety, I can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job.
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LibraryThing member Thomas.Cannon
Thorough and damming but fair. This book shows that he was unorganized. It showed how Covid-19 was difficult and Trump was not as bad at handling it as I thought he was. Yet he lied at every step.
LibraryThing member scottcholstad
This hurts to say, but like many others, I was excited as hell when this book came out. I've been a Woodward fan since the '70s and a Trump hater for just as long, so when I heard he'd gotten a good bit of time with Trump, possibly a little dirt too (I generally don't like gossip, but since most
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Trump gossip [& lies] come from Trump himself, I need another source for any good stuff.

Woodward for me and millions of others seemed the epitome of the traditional investigative journalist, a job, like many others, that seems to have disappeared despite the title remaining. I've respected him for so long because he was a "shining beacon" for other investigative journalists and those aspiring to be. But this book (and his previous one) were so incredibly disappointing, that not only did I feel really let done, but I almost felt betrayed in an odd way, by Woodward, who has clearly lost the edge he had long had. Not only did he largely lob softballs to the walking id, but he cozied up to him and chatted as though they were buds of the same "class," meeting as near equals (Trump doesn't believe anyone but his master, Putin, could ever be an equal) as high profile expensive restaurants, likely over luxurious food and fancy cocktails most Americans Trump has long helped put out of work, along with his truly rich buddies who haven't been faking it for decades, so Woodward came off not only as a dinosaur who once earned and deserved respect for his brains and guts but has traded that in for a lifestyle he may be entitled to, may have earned, may even deserve, but at the cost of his integrity as in guilt by association. Deeply disappointed, but it is a dying profession like so many others, sadly. Not remotely recommended.
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LibraryThing member waldhaus1
Woodward is clearly skilled at getting people to talk to him.. In some ways Trump comes of better than portrayed in the media but in the end he is seen as a cowboy, a quick draw guy. Not a pro Trump book in any way
LibraryThing member boeintuy2
Bob Woodward has a refreshing style that is fact driven and thoughtful. He definitely draws conclusions, many are spot on, but they are not filled with polemics. Easy to read. I am now motivated to read the rest of his assessments of the past 9 presidents.

Awards

Audie Award (Finalist — Non-Fiction — 2021)
Globe and Mail Top 100 Book (Nonfiction — 2020)

Original publication date

2020-09-15

ISBN

198213173X / 9781982131739
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