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Rage is an unprecedented and intimate tour de force of new reporting on the Trump presidency facing a global pandemic, economic disaster and racial unrest.
Woodward, the #1 international bestselling author of Fear: Trump in the White House, has uncovered the precise moment the president was warned that the Covid-19 epidemic would be the biggest national security threat to his presidency. In dramatic detail, Woodward takes readers into the Oval Office as Trump’s head pops up when he is told in January 2020 that the pandemic could reach the scale of the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed 675,000 Americans.
In 17 on-the-record interviews with Woodward over seven volatile months—an utterly vivid window into Trump’s mind—the president provides a self-portrait that is part denial and part combative interchange mixed with surprising moments of doubt as he glimpses the perils in the presidency and what he calls the “dynamite behind every door.”
At key decision points, Rage shows how Trump’s responses to the crises of 2020 were rooted in the instincts, habits and style he developed during his first three years as president.
Revisiting the earliest days of the Trump presidency, Rage reveals how Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats struggled to keep the country safe as the president dismantled any semblance of collegial national security decision making.
Rage draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand witnesses as well as participants’ notes, emails, diaries, calendars and confidential documents.
Woodward obtained 25 never-seen personal letters exchanged between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who describes the bond between the two leaders as out of a “fantasy film.”
Trump insists to Woodward he will triumph over Covid-19 and the economic calamity. “Don’t worry about it, Bob. Okay?” Trump told the author in July. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll get to do another book. You’ll find I was right.”
Woodward's second collection is a poetic diary or day-to-day travelogue shaped by a rigid formal device: a continuous series of unpunctuated long sentences are set in five-word lines in three five-line stanzas per page with only occasional exceptions. Spoken in an endearing, companionable voice, these poems-or sections of a long poem-meditate on the most ordinary of daily happenings. The book begins mid-sentence with a gesture of assured intimacy: "in spite of which it's/hard to imagine it all going to shit." Woodward's sensitivity to line breaks and fondness for conjunctions keeps the rhythm lively. Rain becomes the central metaphor for the book and a shaping formal device:, "it's that/honest moment before the orchestra tunes itself/although much longer in duration/the instruments join in and/fall away as many times/as time will allow for/the droplets arrive at the/faces of you and me." Readers might wish for more of the mischievousness that occasionally graces the poems, but this book is impressively captivating, considering that nothing much happens. Woodward (Mister Goodbye Easter Island, 2003) notes that tulip petals, after a while, go "lazy and strange." He waits for his songs on the jukebox. He sees the kind of hubcaps that "continue/to spin when the car comes/to a stop." The people that appear here are rarely surprised and repeat versions of "the seven/ basic conversations." Each small detail is noticed, proclaimed, discussed and ultimately exalted.