Imagine being the President of one of the most powerful nations in the world. Imagine being warned of a pandemic well before it strikes. Imagine playing down its importance. And continuing to play it down even when it strikes. Because you do not want to create a panic. No matter what happens and how many die.
That’s Rage in a nutshell for you. This is Bob Woodward’s account of how Donald Trump’s presidency. And easily the most devastating book anyone has written about a US President for a while. For, Trump actually contributed in this book that is his own takedown. When Woodward had written his first book on Trump’s presidency, a book called Fear, he had asked if Trump would like to participate in it. The US President had declined. But he changed his mind for Rage. And gave Woodward seventeen interviews to be able to have his own say on his presidency.
Well, he does get his say but the effect is downright disturbing and sometimes, scary. Rage shows Trump as an egoistic and self obsessed President with seemingly very little concern for others. He seems more worried about the nicknames of his appointees (he changes one from “chaos” to “mad dog” because it sounds better in his opinion) and what the media is saying about him than actually the well being of the nation. One of his secretaries removes the televisions from his own room because he feels that the President spends too much time watching TV, and a number of his own staff actually spend time trying to work out how to get things done without him interfering too much. So much for being the most powerful man in the world, eh?
What is really scary about Rage and makes it essential reading is the fact that one of the most powerful people in the world seems to be driven more by ego and pettiness than a person genuinely concerned about the nation, leave alone the world. A book like this by any other writer could have been dismissed as the words of a bitter critic, but Woodward’s credentials are formidable – he was part of the Washington Post team that is credited with bringing down Richard Nixon, and has written several books about US Presidents. This is no idle muck raker but a Pulitzer Prize winner taking on the US president, ironically with his help.
What makes Rage a must-read is not just its subject, but its narration. Unlike many reporters who tend to write in reported speech and make the narrative heavy, Woodward uses direct speech (a result of his making multiple recordings of his conversations and his excellent memory) and the result is that Rage runs along at a brisk pace and even seems like a thriller, although you already know what is going to happen. Yes, sometimes it might seem like there are just way too many characters and those who do not have an idea of the US administration might confused by all the designations, but once you get the hang of them (and you will), this is a book about what happens when ego takes over governance.
If there’s one book you need to read about Donald Trump, this is it. If there’s one book you need to read about what can go wrong even when you have all the power in the world, this is it. Read it, and it is a fair chance you will emerge…enraged.