This is a slightly updated version of an earlier one arising from a major spelling error and the imperative for a reference to the earlier such book in South Africa – Editor
The representation of Donald Trump as someone who missed his way into the Oval Office climbed one ladder higher hours ago with the release of Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff, the author who fortified himself deep inside the Trump team/White House and has so much to tell. It is the global sensation right now, especially with Trump’s unpresidential attack on the book as usual through a tweet. Said he of the author, “Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now, Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!” And then the replies to the tweet, one of which, for example, bashes Trump badly as follows: The only thing you are capable of is hurting and dividing America. You are incapable of helping anyone or even running the country. You are a selfish, racist, bigot and liar who only cares for himself and his family. grow up and learn to have some compassion”.
It is a dense book which requires careful reading, especially the very question of how such happened in the United States, leaving the country with the challenge of how to deconstruct an incumbent president and, along with him, the American mystique of where everything works to the clock, the country of the CIA, the Pentagon, FBI and what have you. More so that, according to the author, Donald Trump had been marked for a slow torture by the media to which Wolff, in Chapter 5 titled Jarvanka, attributed the power to decide “who is going to rise and who is going to fall, who lives and who dies”. With Trump, Wolff’s thesis that “The media has the last word” fails disastrously. What a pity!
Wolff’s methodology is in-depth interviews which makes the book a powerful narrative of the president as a person, the campaign that brought him to power in spite of the absolute sense of loss of the election that pervaded it and Trump’s inability to transcend the limitations of someone broadly assessed to be hooked to narcissism. But, as facts do not actually speak for themselves, what the book conveys stand essentially as his eye/I witness account, as a testimony to the power over interpretation of facts. The context of the book in a president perceived to be unsuitable is, therefore, the most important interpretative code for those reading the book now bound to haunt the Trump Presidency.
What might be the significance of this book for an African country such as Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa? These are the most current faces of the contestation between leadership and society. The United States could though be said to be following the example of South Africa where a similar book recently made its way into the market about President Jacob Zuma’s reported excesses. The significance might be about how a society organises itself to correct its error of judgment whenever it elects someone it subsequently sees as a misnomer into power. The United States has not got the same dynamics as most African countries but the theme of errors in leadership anointment and how such errors might be corrected may not differ in both spaces.
In other words, the approach is not of shouting wolf, blaming everyone else, advocating bringing down the temple and such discourses that have disruptive consequences for those who have no hands or legs in the initial error. Intervention will continue more reviews of this 22 chapter book, minus an Epilogue.