Fear: Trump in the White House (Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster, 2018) is a 400-page book by one of America’s most-revered journalists – one who had extraordinary access to the key players in this latest chapter of history. It also seems likely to become the definitive work on Donald Trump between 2015 and mid-2018.

If you’re like me and have been addicted to reading Trump (probably fake) news since 2016, you won’t find a lot of new information in this book. But you will find an astonishing level of detail about the operation of Trump’s presidential campaign and his often chaotic time in office.

As an example, Australia gets a cameo halfway through the book when Woodward describes how then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull got Australia exempted from Trump’s tariffs on steel imports to the US. However, I had never read that Trump met Turnbull in a special top-secret metal ‘compartment’ on the sidelines of a G20 summit. That compartment had to be torn down afterwards because the president had contravened US security rules by using it to meet someone who didn’t have the highest level of US security clearance.

I’d recommend this one for both those whole feel like they know the whole Trump story but want more detail and those that will be aghast afresh at what’s been going on for the past few years. Either way, it’s all delivered in superb writing that’s both lively and spare, which also makes this a good one for anyone interested in reading the work of a master.

Oh, and you do have to wonder whether the story that made Woodward famous – the Nixon administration’s bugging of the Democrat headquarters in the infamous Watergate scandal – would even raise an eyebrow today. Perhaps it would if the Russians helped.

By Grant Butler


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