As the saying goes – love him or hate him but you cannot ignore him. There is no room for doubt that Donald Trump belongs to this genre, when taken...
As the saying goes – love him or hate him but you cannot ignore him. There is no room for doubt that Donald Trump belongs to this genre, when taken from under any yardstick.
With his fiery personal attacks ( a la Indian politicians) on Hilary Clinton and her poll managers during what can be described as the lowest point in American presidential elections, Trump caught global attention even before he actually made it to the White House, which, in itself, was almost a watershed event in the country’s electoral history.
Given the ‘method to his madness’, Trump and his Quixotic histrionics make for an excellent subject for any writer, cartoonist or pulp fiction character as it is bound to draw the attention of every Tom, Dick and Harry.
Meanwhile, it is, by and large, almost like an established norm for writers, in particular those ‘creative minds’ from USA and European nations, to cash in on the ‘arrival’ of cranky personalities and those who seem to be enjoying a massive following among the general public. Near home, Indians make films on such ‘strange’ characters.
After all, all writings about celebrities and living legends, belonging to the boy-next-door goody good tribe, will be put into the dustbin. A volatile anti-establishment sportsperson or ‘I give a damn’ celebrity from the world of entertainment will be an instant hit with the readers. It is the law of the universe and they are the money-spinners.
It is perhaps to seize the common man’s craze for knowing more about Trump that Michael Wolff has come up with ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House’, a book that supposedly dwells ‘deep into’ Trump’s turbulent first nine months in office.
This is not the first time that Wolff has taken advantage of ‘the goldmine’ that waits to be exploited. His earlier ‘The Man who owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch’ was almost on similar lines. This is perhaps the writer’s success formula to laugh all the way to the bank.
The author has once again hit the bull’s eye given that in the latest instance the big man himself has been reacting to the publication in a style he best symbolises-lashing out at the ‘mentally deranged author’ and publishing an unpardonable ‘web of lies’. Quite understandably, the book has been in the bestseller’s list since hitting the stands implying that Wolff has struck a mindboggling jackpot with his jugglery of words from the inputs gathered from ‘sources’.
Alas, reading the book makes for a disappointing and poorly-knit narration because although he has dealt with several developments with regard to the happenings since the time Trump entered the White House and his reported closed-door-meetings on policy matters, there are monotonous narratives that are either too noisy or irrelevant.
The fact that he writes more about the Republican campaign and about the current White House occupant’s aides, family members and Trump Tower is indicative that, bar the timing of the book and the title, there is nothing extraordinarily great about what is not already known about Trump’s brash and almost outlandish functioning style that has won him more enemies than any man occupying the exalted seat of global power till date. The Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky bombshell or Nixon’s Watergate pale into insignificance, relatively speaking.
Trump’s paradoxical U-turns on Russia, verbose against select ‘Islamic’ nations, diatribe against North Korea, his kin and the extra-constitutional charges against members of his family, the caustic takes on the most revered media houses are all well documented and there is no ‘fire or fury’ to what Wolff adds to them. He has chronicled them in bits and pieces and allotted a major portion of his ‘tell-all’ to writing about the men and women who worked alongside Trump.
The author’s argument in Chapter 14 (Situation room) ‘nor was he in any conventional sense a decision maker; and certainly, he was not a student of foreign policy views and option’ seem a tad harsh on the man, whose decision-making expertise helped him build a business empire.
In a way, Wolff has written a book that he was fully aware would sell now and not perhaps a year later. On that count, one should appreciate the businessman in him as also for the ‘honest’ admission in the three-page ‘Author’s Note’ introductory he has penned.
In his own words, ‘many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. Those conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread to the book’.
His elaboration and classification of ‘information sources’ is disdainfully intriguing and one gets the feeling that most of the material in the book has been obtained second-hand. It is only in some places here and there that the statements are straight from the horse’s mouth.
In the absence of documentary evidences to substantiate most of the ‘inside’ information, the author has relied more on hearsay and his own angst against the Trump persona. There is an unbridled sarcasm against the protagonist as would any fiction writer picking up plots from the neighbourhood gossip.
As a literary product ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House’ is a dud while for those into surrealistic readings, it would be a book that cannot be put down. However, an enterprising and street-smart Bollywood filmmaker will surely ponder making a movie revolving around the book for the masala richness it is laced with. The one clear indication of the book that offers precious little to the reader is that Wolff detests Donald Trump but has no pretensions on making money on the same individual’s sullying and brazenly controversial image.