New York, NY—Rarely was there so much expectation for the appearance of a book as is the case of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House of the North American journalist Michael Wolff. And never before were so many copies sold so quickly.
Before its appearance, the book and its e-book version had reached the top of sales on Amazon.com and the Apple iBooks Store. By 8 January, more than one million copies had been sold. One of the earliest criticisms was that of Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea; one of the most widespread memes on the internet shows him laughing hysterically while leafing through the book.
Fire and Fury describes, in a devastating way, US President Donald Trump’s behaviour in the White House and the aggressive and chaotic interactions among his advisers. In addition, it has extremely negative comments about President Trump’s family, and about Steve Bannon, one of his closest advisers, currently in disgrace.
For the White House, it was a resounding failure to try to stop its publication and massive distribution. By his actions, Trump showed that he was also trying to suppress freedom of expression, guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.
The interior of the palace
Wolff had unprecedented access to government officials for writing his book. He said he conducted 200 interviews, “in order to understand life in the White House through people closest to the president.”
According to him, he had an almost permanent seat in an armchair of the White House, an assertion that has been rejected by Sara Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, one of the most hated people in the United States for her defence of President Trump.
This book does not analyse the policies carried out by the Trump government, nor the justification for them. On the contrary, the author is more interested in personalities and palace intrigues. Undoubtedly, one of the most important personages is Steve Bannon, a true “grey eminence” of the beginning of the Trump presidency.
Bannon always had a close relationship with Trump until the revelations of this book made him a pariah in the White House. He extends his criticism to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, both of whom he calls “Jarvanka.” The description of both cannot be more pejorative. Ivanka is defined as “stupid as a brick” and Jared is called “the butler”.
Among the revelations of the book is that Donald Trump did not really want to be president, and when he heard the results, “it seemed like he had seen a ghost.” His wife Melania was not interested in her husband being president either, perhaps anticipating the considerable invasion of their privacy that this would entail.
Even more damaging to the president is Wolff’s claim that of all the people he spoke to in the White House, virtually none believe that Donald Trump has the capacity to be the leader of the United States.
Although the book has weaknesses, such as lack of a source for some assertions, it also has an advantage: it fully confirms preconceived ideas about the American president. Wolff’s intention is that the revelations in this book will help destroy the presidency of Donald Trump. It is more likely, however, that the end of Donald Trump will be determined by his own stupidity.
Dr. César Chelala, a physician and writer, is a winner of several journalism awards.