Book Review: Rage by Bob Woodward

Just a few pages into Rage had me wondering whether it was indeed a non fiction journalistic account of the current president of the mightiest nation in the world or whether it was a sequel to one of Colin Forbes’ political crime fictional thriller.

Bob Woodward, a Pulitzer prize winner twice over and the man who brought down Richard Nixon’s Presidency down along with Carl Bernstein forty six years ago, is the author of the book. Woodward’s impeccable journalistic credentials and his deeply sourced sound bites add an entire bell (and not just a ring) of truth to the book.

The careful story like narration to capture the reader’s attention, the shock and awe it inspires when one realises it is actually a behind the curtain look at how the most important policy decisions were being made as well as bizarre anecdotes being shared by key players such as Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and others keep you hooked into reading the book cover to cover.

The description of Kim Jong-Un’s letters to Trump and Trump’s replies are a key highlight in the book. For those of us amateur political watchers, this narration undeceives us about how international diplomacy is being conducted at the highest levels and reveals shocking levels of naivete in the process proving how even the most important man in the world can still succumb to over-the-top flattery. The obvious narcissism in printing blow ups of the photo ops of the Korea summits is jarring.

Alice in Wonderland undoubtedly, had a deep and lasting impact in stimulating the imagination of a 11-year-old me. Jared Kushner, seems, undoubtedly another fan too. Cheshire Cat has represented varying levels of wisdom to me at different phases during the many, many readings of the book but Kushner’s following quote (of Cheshire Cat) to explain away his father-in-law’s many eccentricities baffled me. (Why and how was this a complimentary quote?)

 “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there.”

Coronavirus and America’s response to it at various governmental levels is also described in great detail. Anthony Fauci, Rob Pottinger and others make starring appearances in the narration. This is again the startling part that makes us realize the all pervasive nature of modern day governments and how they impact the day-to-day existence of common citizens with each directive and policy decision that they make.

The chaotic management style at display, the lack of push-back from other co-equal branches of government and the overt hunger for driving news cycles by any means possible are chronicled by Woodward elaborately and demystifies the cloud of obscurity that is usually draped around the functioning of the government. The reader is also exposed to how politics and governance happens in the world’s oldest democracy in extraordinary detail and with great narrative finesse.

Verdict: While reading Rage gives the reader a vague feeling of a rushed narration when compared to other Woodward books and more notably Fear, which was the last Woodward book on Trump, the journalistic fervour to the writing is unmistakable. So, double yay to purchasing and reading the book to all you political thriller aficionados out there.

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