Book Review: Rage by Bob Woodward

If after the US Election, months of litigation, cries of election fraud, the storming of the US Capitol and the inauguration of Joe Biden, you’re not sick to death of US Politics – you’ll enjoy this book.

2020 was a tumultuous year in American history, with massive political unrest occurring in the middle of the worst pandemic for almost 100 years. Former President Trump’s reaction to these events are brought to us by Bob Woodward in meticulous detail. With exclusive access to Trump, Woodward’s latest book is a journalistic masterclass, with a huge amount of detail condensed into a gobsmacking account of a year of almost unprecedented political catastrophe.

This narrative begins with the Trump team’s confidence at all on time high. Riding the wave of a strong economy, Trump was buoyant, and many in the party fully expected him to be returned to office with an even bigger victory – even as he faced impeachment at the very same time.

As the pandemic hit, catastrophic failures of judgement and leadership were endemic throughout the Trump team. His constant attempts to play down the threat, and mixed messaging about the effectiveness of masks and the deadly nature of the disease no doubt contributed to the huge death toll that some states saw.

Woodward also explores Trump’s reaction to the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter protests and the debate about white supremacy in America. It’s a fascinating glimpse into Trump’s psyche – as is his bizarre and unnerving correspondence with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-Un.

The detail and access Woodward secured here is incredible – though for me the single weakness of this book is Woodward’s apparent sympathy for certain Republicans, who he seems to have a close relationship with. It’s hard to feel sorry for the men and women who jumped into bed with Trump only later to realise his many weaknesses, even harder when you remember many are still yet to publicly disavow him. Regardless, this is an excellent account of the many failures of the Trump administration, which I’d recommend to anyone interested in US politics and especially those interested in understanding the psychology of Trump.

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