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The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir

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Robert Petkoff

20 Hours 52 Minutes

Simon & Schuster Audio

June 2020

Audio Book Summary

JOHN BOLTON READS THE EPILOGUE!

As President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton spent many of his 453 days in the room where it happened, and the facts speak for themselves.

The result is a White House memoir that is the most comprehensive and substantial account of the Trump Administration, and one of the few to date by a top-level official. With almost daily access to the President, John Bolton has produced a precise rendering of his days in and around the Oval Office. What Bolton saw astonished him: a President for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” he writes. In fact, he argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy—and Bolton documents exactly what those were, and attempts by him and others in the Administration to raise alarms about them.

He shows a President addicted to chaos, who embraced our enemies and spurned our friends, and was deeply suspicious of his own government. In Bolton’s telling, all this helped put Trump on the bizarre road to impeachment. “The differences between this presidency and previous ones I had served were stunning,” writes Bolton, who worked for Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43. He discovered a President who thought foreign policy is like closing a real estate deal—about personal relationships, made-for-TV showmanship, and advancing his own interests. As a result, the US lost an opportunity to confront its deepening threats, and in cases like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea ended up in a more vulnerable place.

Bolton’s account starts with his long march to the West Wing as Trump and others woo him for the National Security job. The minute he lands, he has to deal with Syria’s chemical attack on the city of Douma, and the crises after that never stop. As he writes in the opening pages, “If you don’t like turmoil, uncertainty, and risk—all the while being constantly overwhelmed with information, decisions to be made, and sheer amount of work—and enlivened by international and domestic personality and ego conflicts beyond description, try something else.”

The turmoil, conflicts, and egos are all there—from the upheaval in Venezuela, to the erratic and manipulative moves of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, to the showdowns at the G7 summits, the calculated warmongering by Iran, the crazy plan to bring the Taliban to Camp David, and the placating of an authoritarian China that ultimately exposed the world to its lethal lies. But this seasoned public servant also has a great eye for the Washington inside game, and his story is full of wit and wry humor about how he saw it played.

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Reviews

  • Donald W.

    An ego trip travelogue. The reporting is tiresome and the self-congratulation nettling. The author is certainly knowledgeable, and there is much to criticize and fear when it comes to our current POTUS, but he preens throughout about his reputation as a hawk, criticizing virtually everyone, colleague, ally and foe, as too stupid to see the world as he does - black and white. Things are so much simpler when one’s answer to every problem is regime change or an act of war, in response to which, he appears to assume, The foreign targets of his wrath will beat a quiet retreat More galling, perhaps, he spends gallons of ink explaining the stupidity of any number of decisions made during his tenure, apparently oblivious to the fact that he was by his own account in the room where it happened. We can take comfort in the fact that he isn’t any more.

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  • Michael H.

    Really disappointing, Bolton clearly a megalomaniac seems shocked and appalled that someone could be an even bigger megalomaniac. Thought the motivation for the book would be to reveal Trump’s mismanagement which it does but larger goal seems to Bolton talking himself up. Snore!

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  • Dennis I.

    Egotistical people stories

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  • Joseph H.

    a very detailed account of the interworking of the Trump Whitehouse.

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  • Anonymous

    My favorite comment is in the introduction: if you don’t like stress get a different job! Easy to listen to and stay interested: informative and very much written from the emotional heart without being bitter I gave the Narrator 4 stars because his voice sounded vindictive tinged: however his speech is very articulate and understandable

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  • Anonymous

    This book is about how much of a large racist the author is. Every chance he gets he takes very unnecessary unfounded pokes at President Obama.

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  • Christian C.

    There is nothing in the book that I can recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    After listening to his book, I wonder why he is not the president, since it seems he knows everything so much better than anyone else

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  • Sarah B.

    BORING , to boring to write 10 letters

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  • Petra F.

    So boring. It’s hard to pay attention because either the book is boring or is it the narrator? Either way would not recommend.

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