Bob Woodward’s (2018) book Fear: Trump in the White House is a scathing examination of the methods used by the current President of the United States in managing the people who work for him and the office of the Presidency itself. The book, comprised of a series of details obtained from several individuals who worked directly for Mr. Trump, is not only a recounting of their experiences with the 45th President but an analysis of why Mr. Trump feels compelled to behave in what has been noted to be a less than Presidential fashion. Detailing incidents of rage, disparagement, disrespect, and ultimately disobedience by those who seek to keep his actions from destroying him (and perhaps the United States itself), the book is a shocking portrait of a leader out of control.
Citing names of individuals who had formerly been close to the President, the book seems to lay bare the extreme levels of dysfunction at play in the White House. Detailing everything from rages to responses from subordinates telling him he would end up in prison, Woodward attempts to analyze the reasons behind Trump’s seeming inability to maintain himself as an honorable and respectable leader, instead preferring subordinates to grovel and act without question. In analyzing the demands of the President, Woodward creates a portrait of a man nearly unhinged with self-absorption and manic ego.
Perhaps the one indictment of the book and Woodward’s presentation of the President as a virtual sociopath is its focus on individuals who are no longer working in service of the President. Although Woodward cites unnamed sources claiming to have subverted many of the President’s ill-advised actions, most of the voices in the book come from those no longer holding positions in service of Mr. Trump. Perhaps this could be attributable to Woodward’s bias, but what is more likely is that it is attributable to Trump himself and the climate of fear he has created in a White House where rage is the norm and continued employment uncertain.
- Woodward, B. (2018). Fear: Trump in the White House. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.