The Book That Ate Washington

The Book That Ate Washington
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Like any dutiful Washington swamp creature, I've spent the last few days holed up with Fire and Fury. Which is not, if you've been in news-cycle hibernation, the new fragrance from Ivanka. Rather, it is a book by Michael Wolff about life inside Mar-a-Lago North, aka the Trump White House.Or scratch that—it is not a book. It is the book. If there is only one book Washington political reporters will read this year—and for many, one book a year is their outer limit, as reading gets in the way of more vital swamp-creature pursuits like pretending expertise, being gossipy hens, and tweeting—then this is it.As with most chattering-class blockbusters that catch on with the general public (number one on Amazon, a million copies and counting sold in less than a week), one needn't go through the trouble of actually reading the book to have authoritative opinions on it. But read it I did anyway, right down to the author's note where Wolff states that many of the accounts in Fire and Fury are in conflict with one another and many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue .  .  . and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself is an elemental thread of this book. Or put another way: Despite him weighing the evidence and settling on a version of events I believe to be true, everything that follows might be a lie. Which makes Wolff, who has been criticized by the punditry for everything from violating off-the-record agreements to being a slop artist (more on that later), that rarest of creatures in Washington: a crude approximation of an honest man.

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