In Rage, Bob Woodward delivers the most comprehensive and revealing look into the inner workings of the Trump White House and the world of Donald Trump yet.
The book paints a dark picture of a chaotic and incompetent institution run by a leader so drenched in narcissism that he has become completely divorced from reality.
The most revealing sections involve Woodward’s one on one interviews with the President. Even for a man who so often seems to have no filter, Trump has disclosed here more of his inner thoughts than ever before.
The lack of discretion is absolutely stunning.
Trump handed multiple of Kim Jong Un’s praise-filled letters over to Woodward, but said that he couldn’t see the letters Trump sent back because they were “top secret.” He also disclosed details of a new nuclear weapon system in a move that shocked national security officials. While talking in detail about the danger the Covid-19 pandemic posed, he was also telling the public that it wasn’t worth worrying about and was going to go away very soon.
The interview portions of the book show an erratic and unhinged Trump. He often ignores Woodward’s questions or gives shocking answers, such as saying Woodward “drank the Kool-Aid” when asked if he believes in systemic racism.
He managed to secure interviews not just with Trump but also advisers as close to the president as Jared Kushner, who offers some truly eye-opening testimony.
The chapters not devoted directly to Trump are also enthralling as they contain incredibly revealing stories of former top administration officials such as Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and others.
One common thread across these stories is that Trump refuses to listen to experts and truly believes that he knows best about everything.
The chapters devoted to Dan Coats chronicle his mounting stress as Trump refused to listen to widely agreed-upon facts in the intelligence community. Trump also refused to listen to Mattis’ military expertise and believed countries like South Korea were “ripping us off” because “we allow them to exist.”
Another clear take away from the book is that Trump is one of the worst deal makers in history. He consistently chooses to believe authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong Un over his own allies making him an easy target for manipulation.
In one of the earlier chapters, Trump is shown a doctored video by the Israeli prime minister of the Pakistani president ordering the murder of children. Even after his own Secretary of State told him the video was clearly doctored, Trump still believed it, saying “it’s not fabricated. They got the guy on tape saying it.”
Trump’s deals with countries like North Korea and China have gone nowhere because it seems he legitimately believes he can charm world leaders into acting against their own best interests, just like he did the American people.
Woodward approached the writing of this book with the same attention to detail as he has with all of his previous works.
Since he got his start breaking the Watergate story during the Nixon administration, Woodward has written a book on every president in the past fifty years. He is one of the most accomplished and experienced journalists, and it shows in his detailed and in-depth writing.
Overall Rage is an incredible read for anyone with even the slightest interest in the current political landscape. It will have you hooked from start to finish and enlighten you to more than you probably ever wanted to know about Donald Trump.