With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence.

Fear is the most intimate portrait of a sitting president ever published during the president’s first years in office.


My Thoughts: I will admit that I was devastated by the outcome of the 2016 election. But I was also hoping that, somehow, Trump would surprise us. That we would discover layers of integrity and competence beneath the blustering façade he loved to show the world. His Twitter madness was a sign, to me, though…there were no hidden depths.

Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward, pulled me in and validated what I was already seeing. As the author revealed interviews and observations that confirmed the chaos behind those doors, I had to keep reading. Was there a ray of hope somewhere?

Instead, as time marched on, the chaos grew, and the staff around the president worked hard to try to manage and contain his worst impulses. They had numerous processes to help keep him on track, since their advice most often fell on deaf ears. He didn’t like to read, he didn’t listen, and he clung to his own belief system, ideas that he had held for many years. He believed that he had good instincts and should follow them, rather than to listen to those with expertise and wisdom. His temper tantrums were often punctuated by damaging Twitter rants, or firing of those who were trying to help him.

His day to day operations showed an unraveling, like a Trump rally on a continuous loop.

Staff complained about how, in his persistence of his ideas, they had to constantly explain to him and justify their positions. In frustration, some said he had the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader.

Attorney Dowd fought hard against Trump being interviewed by Mueller, finally resigning over his inability to persuade the president. That issue is still unresolved. These thoughts at the end summed up some major issues:

“In the man and his presidency, Dowd had seen the tragic flaw. In the political back-and-forth, the evasions, the denials, the tweeting, the obscuring, crying ‘Fake News,’ the indignation, Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to say to the president: ‘You’re a f…king liar.’

A brilliant 5 star read that left me frightened, but sometimes hopeful: that perhaps calmer heads would prevail…or at some point, someone could put an end to it all.



  1. This is an unusual read for you Laurel. I just read a review of this which said it starts off extremely well but the reviewer thought the people Woodward interviewed were too conscious of their own place in history to really give an unbiased account. What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree, Catherine; I have been struggling emotionally ever since the election, and despite my attempts to hope for the best, I have been disappointed and enraged by what is happening around us.

      Let’s hope that someone or something can turn things around. This book has helped me feel validated in my thoughts and feelings.


  2. Yes Laurel, I’m hoping it’ll all end soon … If not by Mueller’s investigation than by the election in 2020. Thx to Woodward for sticking his neck out to get to the bottom of this huge morass …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Susan, Woodward and Bernstein were there for us in the 70s, with Watergate. Sometimes it takes someone probing behind the scenes to bring the corruption to light. Hopefully Mueller will find just what we need with his investigation. I hope we don’t have to wait until 2020!


  3. great review, I also thought this was so well done, as little partisan as possible. And I ended up actually quite impressed by what the staff is trying to do within the conditions described, and to avoid the worst. but it’s definitely very sad to have to resort to such things to work with sb who should have some intellectual skills to do the job if he is in this place

    Liked by 1 person

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