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.

I certainly did. I’ve been learning a lot about the history of US politics over the past year – reading Ron Chernow’s incredible autobiographies of Hamilton, Washington and Grant – and with this added context it’s been horrific seeing the political scenes unfold over the past few months.

But what we cannot forget is that all this has taken place in the middle of the worst pandemic for almost 100 years. And this is the story Bob Woodward tells in meticulous detail, beginning the narrative at the start of 2020, when the Trump administration was just hearing about the potential dangers of a virus in China.

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.

Then we hear about the catastrophic failures of judgement and leadership 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.

We get a behind the scenes look at 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.

This was the first book of Bob Woodward’s that I’ve read, and I’ll certainly be going back to check his back catalogue of Presidential books. The detail and access he’s secured here is incredible – although there was a few times where I rolled my eyes at his sympathy for certain Republicans, who he seems to have a close relationship with.

This is a well-written, well-paced account of the many failures of the Trump administration. I’ll look forward to the sequel, which promises to cover the tumultuous general election, the toxic fallout and Trump’s ultimate demise. I’d recommend this book.

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