A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America

A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America

Posted by jack_miller | Published 6 months ago

With 1723 ratings

By: Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig

Purchased At: $35.00

The instant #1 bestseller.

“This taut and terrifying book is among the most closely observed accounts of Donald J. Trump’s shambolic tenure in office to date."
- Dwight Garner, The New York Times

Washington Post
national investigative reporter Carol Leonnig and White House bureau chief Philip Rucker, both Pulitzer Prize winners, provide the definitive insider narrative of Donald Trump's unique presidency with shocking new reporting and insight into its implications.


“I alone can fix it.” So went Donald J. Trump’s march to the presidency on July 21, 2016, when he accepted the Republican presidential nomination in Cleveland, promising to restore what he described as a fallen nation. Yet over the subsequent years, as he has undertaken the actual work of the commander in chief, it has been hard to see beyond the daily chaos of scandal, investigation, and constant bluster. It would be all too easy to mistake Trump’s first term for one of pure and uninhibited chaos, but there were patterns to his behavior and that of his associates. The universal value of the Trump administration is loyalty - not to the country, but to the president himself - and Trump’s North Star has been the perpetuation of his own power, even when it meant imperiling our shaky and mistrustful democracy.

Leonnig and Rucker, with deep and unmatched sources throughout Washington, D.C., tell of rages and frenzies but also moments of courage and perseverance. Relying on scores of exclusive new interviews with some of the most senior members of the Trump administration and other firsthand witnesses, the authors reveal the forty-fifth president up close, taking readers inside Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as well as the president’s own haphazard but ultimately successful legal defense. Here for the first time certain officials who have felt honor-bound not to publicly criticize a sitting president or to divulge what they witnessed in a position of trust tell the truth for the benefit of history.

This peerless and gripping narrative reveals President Trump at his most unvarnished and exposes how decision making in his administration has been driven by a reflexive logic of self-preservation and self-aggrandizement - but a logic nonetheless. This is the story of how an unparalleled president has scrambled to survive and tested the strength of America’s democracy and its common heart as a nation.
500 pages that are well organized, exceptionally edited and full of nothing new - it’s just said better, without histrionics and has lots of “dialogue”, from those who wish to remain anonymous...

Rucker and Leonnis clearly managed a gargantuan mountain of data to fill these pages. Collecting interviews, articles, tweets, news broadcasts, etc. for over 3 years to support this effort is mind boggling and they’re blessed to have had a great team. The effort is most evident in the spectacular index. It’s set up by person, place or event and every nuance you can imagine related to each. The Kindle version is interactive and will take you directly to the text.

The writing is clear, not very concise, in fact it’s verbose. The language is colorful, mostly on the part of POTUS, in his direct quotations, and there are a fair amount of them. There is an attempt at fairness altho’ the decided tenor of this tome is negative towards him. More credit is given to his faithful staff and for their willingness to serve, nobly. Much effort is given to creat first person accounts that permit the reader to decide rather than being dictated to.

Exhaustive and at times exhausting, but a good compendium of the facts thus far📚

- frankie_baker

The latest Donald Trump expose published today is “A Very Stable Genius”, by Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig. They’re part of a political reporting team at the Post that has won a Pulitzer Prize and Leonnig has won two Pulitzer prizes on her own. Both appear frequently on MSNBC and are acknowledged as excellent reporters. I’m putting in the authors’ bona fides to establish their credentials in writing a tell-all book on Trump and his administration.

The title “A Very Stable Genius” comes from a Trump tweet in January, 2018, issued when another author was disparaging about Trump’s mental stability and acumen. He’s used it often in tweets and speeches since and doesn’t seem to recognize the illogical claim a person shouldn’t make about himself. The authors have looked at Donald Trump’s almost constant daily lies and braggadocio about himself. They present his deeds and his words but are somewhat sparing about drawing the conclusions of Trump’s actions, figuring that their readers can do so for themselves. I think the part I was - and still am - shocked about was that President Donald Trump did not know exactly what happened at Pearl Harbor and the importance of the “USS Arizona”.

Again, Rucker and Leonnig’s book is but the latest tell-all but I think it’s one of the best written.

- frederick_sanders

This is a well researched book, of course, given Rucker's and Leonnig's reputation (and a Pulitzer prize each). They interviewed nearly 200 people, many of them top Trump advisors although most chose to remain unnamed sources. There are a lot of quotes, enlivening the text, and they know how to lay out a strong narrative with often-vivid details about the participants.

There's no getting around it President Trump is shown as erratic, impulsive, ignorant of the things a president should know, vindictive, profane and mean. He runs a chaotic administration and likes it that way. Pitting people against each other, creating insecure lackeys, is his preferred management style. He did it at the Trump Organization, and the opportunities for testing loyalties--and making himself the center of all the attention--are even greater now.

How many books describing a completely unfit president will be published before his core support drops significantly? Books come. Books go, and yet Trump's support among Republicans in Congress and voters (95% or so approve of him) remains basically unchanged. (And, spoiler. The title is ironic, at least for the authors. Trump, who's used it at least four times, seems completely convinced of his superiority. In his mind, it is always others who have to be wrong--while he has to get all of the credit. The writing was on the wall for Steve Bannon after he made the cover of TIME. Trump treats both political appointees and experienced government experts the same--with disdain and disrespect. He doesn't listen, won't learn, and thinks he knows "more than the generals"...also, more than the communications director, the financial experts, intelligence officials, lawyers....and on and on. As some previous biographers have noted, it would not surprise him to be told he knows more than anyone. He would agree.) When things go wrong—and they often do—his first thought is to find someone to blame. (And blame them he will, even if the problems were caused because they did exactly as he told them to.)

Trump’s leadership style is also defined here by his temper, by uncontrolled (and apparently uncontrollable) rages. This is not a psychologically well man. He is shown frequently ranting, raving, reducing people to tears (Nielsen and Sessions and Spicer are just three of them). We've all seen how he insults and demeans his political opponents or anyone who mildly criticizes him. But Trump doesn't even treat "his" people with respect. There is no manager in America who would not be reported for this kind of abusive behavior to HR--too many examples to list--and fired if it continued. What Trump creates in the workplace is the definition of a "hostile work environment".

His verbal abuse of others--including publicly humiliating women who don't even work for the government anymore like Lisa Page--would not be tolerated (by law) at any workplace in America. Why are the behaviors these authors describe tolerated from the nation's top CEO? There is no one who can rein him in and it's unnerving to read about his unrestrained tirades, including calling the nation's top generals--with their aides present, squirming-- "babies" and “dopes”. How is this permitted from the nation's president?

Rex Tillerson wasn't a good SOS, but at least he shows up in book after book as having the spine to stand up to Trump. He was genuinely upset about how Trump--who took five draft deferments during Vietnam--disrespected the nation's military leaders. Tillerson did not deny calling Trump an "f-ing moron" after the above “dopes” meeting. Preibus corralled Pence afterward to come and show Rex how to treat Trump with proper deference and how not look to look so contemptuous when he spoke--repetitiously, ignorantly, ramblingly, irrelevantly--in group meetings. Working for Trump, means knowing and accepting that that loyalty is EVERYTHING. And you show you're loyalty by endless flattery and compliance with whatever Donald Trump wants.

Leonnig and Rucker show a profile of the nation from the Oval Office. If I had to make a criticism--observation, really--its that it benefits from all their sources but also suffers from them. With so much emphasis on information from those who had the willingness to work with Trump in the first place, the book fills a certain political niche, but lacks the sweep of popular history. There's not enough about how Trump policies are impacting real peoples' lives, and little about what others are doing in opposition to his policies--and why. The travel ban is one impactful decision extensively described, but the descriptions are largely confined to reactions in the executive branch (and, in one brief passage, what Trump staff sees happening at airports via television.).

There’s ample detail but sometimes it lacks context. The Russia investigation, for example, is gone into at great length, but some of Trump's statements are treated as if we all should assume they're true. After how the authors' own paper has documented over 16,000 presidential lies in 3 years, they should be in the forefront of encouraging readers to be skeptical of whatever he says. Certainly, no one can say with certainty what President Trump "feels" or "believes" about anything. All we really know is what he says and does. This includes reaction to the Mueller investigation which has a number of missing pieces in the retelling, and is marred by the idea that "Trump believed Putin when he said he wasn't involved".

"A Very Stable Genius" is an up close look at Trump and how he governs. It rarely pulls the lens back for a wider view, for a look at his impact around America and how he's changing the country with his laws, his deregulations, his nationalism and his apparent goal of returning to the America of the 1950s. They leave it largely to the reader to make those conclusions for themselves. Some will appreciate that approach; others will wish for more of a sustained argument that a president like this is dangerously unfit for office.

They quote one official who summarizes Trump's impact at the top. In the beginning of his administration, "There was more of an ethos in the place of trying to help the institution and to help enlighten him rather than simply to execute his marching orders." Now, this official said, "I'm not sure there are many, if any, left who view as their responsibility trying to help educate, moderate, enlighten and persuade--or even advise in many cases. There's a new ethos: This is a presidency of one. It's Trump unleashed, unchained, unhinged." In the end, we are left to imagine with some alarm what a second term would be like.

- anton_hughes

The most effective indictment of Trump to date. A well researched and cohesive argument detailing how our Oval Office has become a latrine. If you only read one book about our national disgrace, this should be it. America is in turmoil but we should celebrate our free press and the incredible job they are doing to expose the harm being done to our country by this shallow little man.

- susan_morales

If you read and liked "Fear" and "American Carnage," you'll end up devouring this quickly.

The Woodward book was only about the year before and then the first year and half of the Trump administration. "American Carnage" did an excellent job at showing how the GOP changed over the 20 years leading up to the 2016 election and how Trump capitalized (he did not create them) on the anti-immigrant, anti-media waves that had been fermenting.

This book cover the first 2 1/2 years of the Trump administration, up through the summer of 2019. The Mueller report is discussed in full (Ukraine is not in here, so we'll have to wait for that book later this year). As in those other books, the quotes by both Trump and his current and former staff members are telling, biting, funny, and dreadful.

Trump fans will almost certainly hate this.

- lucian_chavez

A comprehensive record of the first two-and-a-half years of the chaotic Trump presidency. A must-read for any American voter contemplating supporting this undisciplined, impulsive and divisive egotist in 2020. Trump adores fellow tyrannical and anti-democratic leaders, and hates rule based, international organisations that have ensured peace and prosperity since WW2. All the sage, wise heads that surrounded Trump in his early years as president have been replaced by enabling, dim sycophants. Another four more years of Trump in the White House will cause untold damage to America and the rest of the world. What a chilling prospect. Thoroughly researched book.

- liam_smith

If this were a work of fiction, it would never have been published, because the editor would have spiked it as being too far fetched from reality.

- lachlan_patel

A truly scary book, which sets out in chronological order the daily battles which rage in Trump's disastrous administration. The man is a liar, a self-confessed sexual predator, a hopelessly inept businessman and seriously unhinged. It really does make for frightening reading. WAKE UP America, before you let this tyrannical nutcase destroy everything which you hold dear. Trump is incredibly dangerous, and no-one in government is taking him anywhere near seriously enough. Superb reporting - everyone should read this. When the USA sinks into corrupt totalitarianism with no more democracy, no free press and a dictator with orange skin, do not say that you weren't warned. A must-read.

- brandon_wilson

A scary description of the most powerful man in the world who is also a lying bully of very limited intelligence

- dylan_evans

All these books written by reputable authors about the crazy in the White House are fascinating. Really good read that makes one ask again and again - how on earth did this despicable, hate fuelled, spiteful person become the most powerful man in the world.

- zaid_cooper

I've read most of the "tell-all" books about Trump and his shenanigans and bought this on the strength of the reputations of its authors.
Excellent read because it is clearly very much fly on the wall and constantly makes me shake my head in amazement at the Donald's behaviour. Good one and recommended.

- adaline_richardson

Researched and written by two of Washington's sharpest and most courageous journalists. It is simply shocking to read just how dysfunctional the Trump White House is in reality. It is clear that we will see the end of American democracy if this lunatic gets a second term. Let us hope and pray he doesn't.

- camden_mitchell

I was just a bit disappointed. I think they over-did the pre-publication publicity and so quite a few highlights were already out there. Some of the accounts were also kind of 'more of the same' in light of all the other books out there on Trump. I like both these journalists and rate their work highly, I think the book is well written and I'm confident it will have been meticulously researched, but maybe I'm just a bit trumped-out with Trump stuff and just want it all to end. It went past a joke a long time ago and has become positively deadly. Anyway, don't let me put you off, I think for those who savour the ugly details of Trumpworld this book will be an enjoyable and informative read.

- alessandra_gonzales

Not particularly well written. Despite being in chronological order it jumps about all over the place. If you're looking for new information you won't find it here. It's all been in the news.

- franco_ramirez

As a reader of the Washington Post, I'd ready a number of these "stories" in the paper. I'm glad he thinks he's a very stable genius, I have other adjectives I use.

- elijah_davis

It is no secret that I absolutely despise this man. This book basically tells us that our suspicions about this man and what some of the intelligent and sane people of America and around the world already knew. Alas those who have been brainwashed by this man won't have a bad word to say against him. This is a great book, it is an eye opener of real events that people have witnessed first hand and it is an a good book to read and relax, laugh and swear to yourself as you read through the pages.

- lukas_martin

A great read with amazing detail - very readable. This book will be historically important in recording events as they happened

- edison_turner

This is a book that you can’t put down. It reads as if it speaks my mind and how I had perceived but had struggled to believe. It is just a great piece of research and a joy to read.

- ronald_reyes

Well-written, detailed read that has provided a fill-in on the goings on of the current administration. The further I read, the more saddened I became. The US will no longer be a country of high values that is respected worldwide. Truth, ethics and morality no longer matter and are outrightly mocked. The rejection of clear evidence in the current impeachment trial leaves one to wonder how easily it is for former respected officials to follow the leadership of a narcissistic sociopath who has shown that he is solely self-serving. Does no one have the courage to uphold truth, honour and dignity?

- sabrina_king

Another Trump tome. If you are a collector like me it is a good addition.

- jillian_kelly

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