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Welcome to the White House. At the heart of Washington, there is a circus. It's raucous, noisy and full of clowns. Reporting on it is a daily cacophony. Four major stories can blow up and blow out before breakfast, and political weather systems are moving at warp speed. The one thing absent from the weather forecast is the tranquil eye of the storm. That we never see. In A Welcome to the White House. At the heart of Washington, there is a circus. It's raucous, noisy and full of clowns. Reporting on it is a daily cacophony. Four major stories can blow up and blow out before breakfast, and political weather systems are moving at warp speed. The one thing absent from the weather forecast is the tranquil eye of the storm. That we never see. In A Year at the Circus: Inside Trump's White House, BBC North America Editor, Jon Sopel, takes you inside Trump’s West Wing and explores the impact this presidency has had on the most iconic of American institutions. Each chapter starts inside a famous Washington room, uncovering its history and its new resonance in the Trump era. You are invited to step inside the Oval Office where Trump called for loyalty from FBI Director James Comey, and experience life as a reporter in the Briefing Room, where the tense relationship between the media and the President is played out. Guiding you through these rooms, Jon reveals the inner workings of the Trump White House and details the key moments and conversations that have unfolded within its walls. From Kim Jong-un and Kavanaugh to Merkel and the Mueller Inquiry - this is your insider guide to the Washington Circus. Roll up, roll up ...


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Welcome to the White House. At the heart of Washington, there is a circus. It's raucous, noisy and full of clowns. Reporting on it is a daily cacophony. Four major stories can blow up and blow out before breakfast, and political weather systems are moving at warp speed. The one thing absent from the weather forecast is the tranquil eye of the storm. That we never see. In A Welcome to the White House. At the heart of Washington, there is a circus. It's raucous, noisy and full of clowns. Reporting on it is a daily cacophony. Four major stories can blow up and blow out before breakfast, and political weather systems are moving at warp speed. The one thing absent from the weather forecast is the tranquil eye of the storm. That we never see. In A Year at the Circus: Inside Trump's White House, BBC North America Editor, Jon Sopel, takes you inside Trump’s West Wing and explores the impact this presidency has had on the most iconic of American institutions. Each chapter starts inside a famous Washington room, uncovering its history and its new resonance in the Trump era. You are invited to step inside the Oval Office where Trump called for loyalty from FBI Director James Comey, and experience life as a reporter in the Briefing Room, where the tense relationship between the media and the President is played out. Guiding you through these rooms, Jon reveals the inner workings of the Trump White House and details the key moments and conversations that have unfolded within its walls. From Kim Jong-un and Kavanaugh to Merkel and the Mueller Inquiry - this is your insider guide to the Washington Circus. Roll up, roll up ...

30 review for A Year At The Circus: Inside Trump's White House

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    An entertaining and worrying overview of the Trump White House and administration. As mentioned in the book, and elsewhere, if what has happened over the last three years was a movie or TV script, it would get rejected as unbelievable. The more you read, the more concerning it is, that this man is the President of the USA. Hopefully things will get better in 2020.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Jon Sopel’s style is effortless and thoroughly engaging. He balances detailed, intriguing narratives with tasty bite-sized nuggets of gossip and shocking anecdotes. Also a fantastic way to understand the inner workings of any White House.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Downing

    An absolutely brilliant guide not only to the general workings of The White House and the different positions of Office and how they all interact, but also a look at how Trump's White House did all of those things differently, giving a great picture of the administration. Whether you're a supporter of him or not, this book helps to show you just how unorthodox his approach to the presidency was. An easy read and a great showcase of modern politics. An absolutely brilliant guide not only to the general workings of The White House and the different positions of Office and how they all interact, but also a look at how Trump's White House did all of those things differently, giving a great picture of the administration. Whether you're a supporter of him or not, this book helps to show you just how unorthodox his approach to the presidency was. An easy read and a great showcase of modern politics.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Simon Fletcher

    An enjoyable, incisive and highly readable look into Trump's dysfunctional White House. An enjoyable, incisive and highly readable look into Trump's dysfunctional White House.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura Spira

    I enjoyed this insider's account of Trump's White House and Washington politics more generally. Taking the reader through the different rooms was good way of giving the account structure. Didn't learn anything new but it was useful to read it in context. It's still fairly terrifying, though. I enjoyed this insider's account of Trump's White House and Washington politics more generally. Taking the reader through the different rooms was good way of giving the account structure. Didn't learn anything new but it was useful to read it in context. It's still fairly terrifying, though.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alistair Gordon

    Entertaining journey through the Trump administration's various challenges and blunders so far. Jon Sopel vividly articulates the surreal working environment surrounding the White House since Trump's election victory in 2016. Whilst a close observer of US politics, I had no idea just how chaotic the reality of the administration actually is, with officials constantly in a state of panic as to what policy deviation he may initiate next (not to mention the tweets). Essential reading for anyone tha Entertaining journey through the Trump administration's various challenges and blunders so far. Jon Sopel vividly articulates the surreal working environment surrounding the White House since Trump's election victory in 2016. Whilst a close observer of US politics, I had no idea just how chaotic the reality of the administration actually is, with officials constantly in a state of panic as to what policy deviation he may initiate next (not to mention the tweets). Essential reading for anyone that is looking for a whistle stop tour of the key moments in the Trump adventure to date. It also provides a very informative and historically insightful overview of the history of the various US federal government institutions and how they've evolved to the current day. This includes the role of the VP, the Cabinet, the relationship between the WH and the press, Air Force One, and even the role of the First Lady.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andy Moss

    This will probably age better than as a contemporary read. Sopel says he wanted to recollect some of the less well known stories from the Trump era, but then goes on to do a chapter on Mueller, one on Kavanaugh. For people with even a passing interest in American politics these seem like they things you would be well aware of and just covers ground you are already aware of. There are some interesting historical titbits - I didn't know historically the Vice President had been the person who didn' This will probably age better than as a contemporary read. Sopel says he wanted to recollect some of the less well known stories from the Trump era, but then goes on to do a chapter on Mueller, one on Kavanaugh. For people with even a passing interest in American politics these seem like they things you would be well aware of and just covers ground you are already aware of. There are some interesting historical titbits - I didn't know historically the Vice President had been the person who didn't win the election !

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sal

    This is a really good overview of the first few years of the Trump Presidency. I've read a number of other Trump books and they have focused on gossip and the minutiae of the chaos in the White House. Sopel takes a different approach, stepping back to put Trump in context within the modern American Presidency. What soon becomes clear is just how outside the accepted norms this Presidency has become, and the long term danger this poses to democracy. The chapter about the Supreme Court was particu This is a really good overview of the first few years of the Trump Presidency. I've read a number of other Trump books and they have focused on gossip and the minutiae of the chaos in the White House. Sopel takes a different approach, stepping back to put Trump in context within the modern American Presidency. What soon becomes clear is just how outside the accepted norms this Presidency has become, and the long term danger this poses to democracy. The chapter about the Supreme Court was particularly disturbing. Trump will be gone either later this year or in 4 years time. The judges he has appointed will be with us for a generation and will have an enormous influence on fundamental liberties and rights. The final chapter is the clearest explanation of the Mueller investigation I've read, and makes it even more astonishing that Trump wasn't brought down by it. The original hardback of this book came out at the end of 2019 and I presume it finished in a fairly upbeat place for Trump, with the Mueller investigation behind him and the economy doing well. The paperback version I read came out late enough in 2020 to allow for a wonderful final line cliffhanger as coronavirus raises its head over the horizon. Can't wait for the next book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Samanta

    I really liked how the book is structured - taking the reader through different rooms in the White House is a very interesting and unique approach to describe Trump’s administration. I was surprised how chaotic it actually was - “We leaked. We schemed. We backstabbed. We brought our personal agendas and vendettas. We were ruthless”, - Jon Sopel I found it very amusing when the author compared Trump to the Emperor in Hans Christian Andersen’s Danish folktale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” (“Kejserens I really liked how the book is structured - taking the reader through different rooms in the White House is a very interesting and unique approach to describe Trump’s administration. I was surprised how chaotic it actually was - “We leaked. We schemed. We backstabbed. We brought our personal agendas and vendettas. We were ruthless”, - Jon Sopel I found it very amusing when the author compared Trump to the Emperor in Hans Christian Andersen’s Danish folktale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” (“Kejserens nye klaeder” - which is one of my favourite stories for children). Just like the Emperor, who was naked in front of the whole townsfolk but didn’t want to admit that, Trump doesn’t believe in what he doesn’t want to believe, he doesn’t see what he doesn’t want to see… Overall, quite an interesting read and I am really glad the Circus left the White House.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Howells

    My last book of the year. Another compelling book about the Trump Presidency. This time from the BBC’s North American Editor Jon Sopel. He’s structured it quite cleverly - rather than focusing on people or events he tells his story based on the structure of the White House and the significant rooms within the building. Refreshingly Sopel isn’t as impartial as he has to be when reporting these stories on the BBC. Whilst he doesn’t exactly nail his colours to the mast, it’s not difficult to work out My last book of the year. Another compelling book about the Trump Presidency. This time from the BBC’s North American Editor Jon Sopel. He’s structured it quite cleverly - rather than focusing on people or events he tells his story based on the structure of the White House and the significant rooms within the building. Refreshingly Sopel isn’t as impartial as he has to be when reporting these stories on the BBC. Whilst he doesn’t exactly nail his colours to the mast, it’s not difficult to work out what he thinks of Trump. There will be better books about the Trump Presidency but as immediate reportage goes and a feel for what it was like to report on the fiasco of the last four years this is difficult to beat.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael Castro

    This book takes you inside Trump's West Wing and explores the impact that Trump's presidency has had on the world. A well-written insider guide to the White House during Trump's presidency by Jon Sopel BBC's North America editor. It gave me more of an understanding of the inner workings of the White House. The last chapter gives the clearest explanation of the Mueller investigation, and it is amazing to think that Trump was not brought down by it. I lost count of the number of staff that were fir This book takes you inside Trump's West Wing and explores the impact that Trump's presidency has had on the world. A well-written insider guide to the White House during Trump's presidency by Jon Sopel BBC's North America editor. It gave me more of an understanding of the inner workings of the White House. The last chapter gives the clearest explanation of the Mueller investigation, and it is amazing to think that Trump was not brought down by it. I lost count of the number of staff that were fired in his administration, including FBI Director James Comey. Finishing this hard-to-put-down book, I came to the conclusion that Trump's term in office was probably one of the most chaotic and dysfunctional since Nixon although Nixon unlike Trump was re-elected for a second term.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This is an exceptional book written by an author with inside knowledge of his subject. Jon Sopel has laid bare the bizarre world of the White House under the present incumbent - Donald Trump. This is not a sensational 'kiss and tell' tale but a reasoned and fascinating insight into the workings of arguably the most powerful government on earth. No dry record of facts and figures but honest and interesting recollections of recent years from someone who has a wealth of experience. It is written wi This is an exceptional book written by an author with inside knowledge of his subject. Jon Sopel has laid bare the bizarre world of the White House under the present incumbent - Donald Trump. This is not a sensational 'kiss and tell' tale but a reasoned and fascinating insight into the workings of arguably the most powerful government on earth. No dry record of facts and figures but honest and interesting recollections of recent years from someone who has a wealth of experience. It is written with authority and some humour. An excellent read - it kept we awake past bed time for several nights

  13. 5 out of 5

    Niamh

    Another excellent book from BBC North America correspondent Jon Sopel about the madness that is the US White House and its current occupant. He takes a microscopic view to the people who work and lead the current Administration and, with the frame of various important rooms in the White House, explores how the past has influenced the present and how our views of the leader of the free world has changed as different men have occupied that post. If you feel completely lost as to why Twitter loses Another excellent book from BBC North America correspondent Jon Sopel about the madness that is the US White House and its current occupant. He takes a microscopic view to the people who work and lead the current Administration and, with the frame of various important rooms in the White House, explores how the past has influenced the present and how our views of the leader of the free world has changed as different men have occupied that post. If you feel completely lost as to why Twitter loses its shit every time the US is mentioned in regards to the current crisis or just why we've ended up where we are - Sopel's book is a good place to start.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Carroll

    You get a good impression of the jaw-dropping chaos and lack of any integrity in the Trump administration where the man-child Trump and his thin skinned huge ego basically drives everything. There is a hint of admiration from Jon Sopel at how the train somehow keeps on the tracks and that literally everything just "bounces off" Trump. All the previous rules have been changed/ignored which might be fine in Trump had any morals beyond his own self aggrandisement and acquisition of money and power. You get a good impression of the jaw-dropping chaos and lack of any integrity in the Trump administration where the man-child Trump and his thin skinned huge ego basically drives everything. There is a hint of admiration from Jon Sopel at how the train somehow keeps on the tracks and that literally everything just "bounces off" Trump. All the previous rules have been changed/ignored which might be fine in Trump had any morals beyond his own self aggrandisement and acquisition of money and power. No swamps were drained, intact it appears far more blatantly corrupt than any previous administration. Scary stuff and who knows if America's electorate will be fooled again by his racist nativism?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steve Vear

    Had this on my list to read for a while and was very recently recommended to me by a friend. This is a brilliant read. It’s easy to follow and written in my opinion very well If you have an interest in American politics or just want to get some clarity on the stories you hear about Trump you should read this book. You would be forgiven for thinking some of the stories sound far fetched, until you contrast them with some of the stories we have been hearing in recent months. You have to read it to Had this on my list to read for a while and was very recently recommended to me by a friend. This is a brilliant read. It’s easy to follow and written in my opinion very well If you have an interest in American politics or just want to get some clarity on the stories you hear about Trump you should read this book. You would be forgiven for thinking some of the stories sound far fetched, until you contrast them with some of the stories we have been hearing in recent months. You have to read it to believe it. We can be grateful now than ever that the 20th Jan marked a change for America.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I like Jon Sopel and listen to Americast so am familiar with his style. If you like him, you will enjoy the book as he writes as he speaks, with facts, views and ideas all mixed together in his narrative. The first 7 chapters were great, lots of the jaw dropping stuff that Trump did, alongside a narrative of how stuff is supposed to be done in the real world. The last couple of chapters I struggled with a bit as these focused on the Vice President and the impeachment regarding the election. All I like Jon Sopel and listen to Americast so am familiar with his style. If you like him, you will enjoy the book as he writes as he speaks, with facts, views and ideas all mixed together in his narrative. The first 7 chapters were great, lots of the jaw dropping stuff that Trump did, alongside a narrative of how stuff is supposed to be done in the real world. The last couple of chapters I struggled with a bit as these focused on the Vice President and the impeachment regarding the election. All good stuff just not my interest. I will though seek out the next one in the series

  17. 5 out of 5

    DR ANDREW N PAPANIKITAS

    This booking is written with the grace and poise of a senior BBC journalist. Despite this the author’s at times surprisingly calm account of nepotism, incoherence and downright craziness at the heart of American government is frankly terrifying. The book is told through locations in and connected to the White House: the oval office, the press room, the medical bay and air force one key examples. It is a page turner and I can’t wait for the promised third instalment in Jon Sopel’s trilogy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Arran Douglas

    It's funny (and definitely a little frightening) how many supposedly career ending moves, comments and tweets have been made in the time of Trump and how quickly we all just laugh them off and forget. Its interesting to read this and remind myself of what seemed like big news at the time. Definitely a must read for anyone who wants a peak behind the scenes of American politics, in general, and, more specifically, the Trump Administration. It's funny (and definitely a little frightening) how many supposedly career ending moves, comments and tweets have been made in the time of Trump and how quickly we all just laugh them off and forget. Its interesting to read this and remind myself of what seemed like big news at the time. Definitely a must read for anyone who wants a peak behind the scenes of American politics, in general, and, more specifically, the Trump Administration.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tobias

    This is really good, as you would expect from Sopel. I've read quite a lot around the topic recently, so there was nothing particularly new about what he wrote, but even so there were still moments when I did a double take. He covers the insanity of the Trump presidency up to the point of publication, and covers it well. There's more than enough detail to be credible, but it's light enough that it reads more like a novel than a documentary. Very definitely recommended. This is really good, as you would expect from Sopel. I've read quite a lot around the topic recently, so there was nothing particularly new about what he wrote, but even so there were still moments when I did a double take. He covers the insanity of the Trump presidency up to the point of publication, and covers it well. There's more than enough detail to be credible, but it's light enough that it reads more like a novel than a documentary. Very definitely recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    An entertaining and informative account of life in Trump's White House, which also had a lot of useful information about the various offices of state in the US. The author Jon Sopel also looks back at former holders of the office and the office of the VP. He has a wry sense of humour , which serves him well in describing the sometimes unbelievable happenings in Trump's world. An entertaining and informative account of life in Trump's White House, which also had a lot of useful information about the various offices of state in the US. The author Jon Sopel also looks back at former holders of the office and the office of the VP. He has a wry sense of humour , which serves him well in describing the sometimes unbelievable happenings in Trump's world.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Pleased that I read this in Jan 2020 in full knowledge that the Trump presidency is over. John Sopel's writing makes for an entertaining, easy, but ultimately frightening read of the tenure in office of Donald J Trump. That such a man, with such a cabal of lackeys could hold this most revered of offices is astounding. Pleased that I read this in Jan 2020 in full knowledge that the Trump presidency is over. John Sopel's writing makes for an entertaining, easy, but ultimately frightening read of the tenure in office of Donald J Trump. That such a man, with such a cabal of lackeys could hold this most revered of offices is astounding.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Very interesting and well-written accessible account of Trump's White House. Obviously for a 300 page book it is not exhaustive but gives a good flavour with very interesting facts from history interspersed. Very interesting and well-written accessible account of Trump's White House. Obviously for a 300 page book it is not exhaustive but gives a good flavour with very interesting facts from history interspersed.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul Kerr

    An interesting read, being an easy subject to talk about with the chaos consuming the Trump administration. Probably nothing too surprising in this book, but the switching the action between the various political places of power is a nice touch.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jamad

    Not as good as If Only They Didn’t Speak English. For me this was too much of a recap of what happened in the last year in the White House. The previous book had many more personal anecdotes - this seemed a little dry in comparison. Still a decent read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Very insightful, though at times Sopel drifts off into tangents about past administrations. Not so much an expose on Trump as it is his thoughts and findings on a stream of presidents from the past 40 years

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mr.Michael J Griffiths

    Frightening I could only read this book in small chunks as the more I have found out about this man-child the more incredulous I become that he was ever voted in, it doesn't say much for the intelligence of a large percentage of the country. Frightening I could only read this book in small chunks as the more I have found out about this man-child the more incredulous I become that he was ever voted in, it doesn't say much for the intelligence of a large percentage of the country.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andy Lopata

    Much better than I expected. Far from yet another rushed reprisal of the horror stories coming from the Trump White House (although many of those are here), this covers US Presidential history and political commentary within a quick, light and enjoyable read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jackie Burke

    Extremely readable Very interesting well written account of the White House and most of its occupants over the years with emphasis on the current occupant. I found the chapters of the Office of the Vice President and the part that Air force one plays informative and interesting.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hannah James

    5 stars because I believe for a book of its kind that deals on only politics and facts it is truly excellent. Dull subject matter written in a simple yet hilarious way. Please can Jon Sopel take over the politics sections of all newspapers and books?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Howes

    I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about this book. Each chapter referred to a room in the White House, which was quite clever. It had interesting moments - plenty of anecdotes - but a bit too much history for my taste. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about this book. Each chapter referred to a room in the White House, which was quite clever. It had interesting moments - plenty of anecdotes - but a bit too much history for my taste.

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