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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 Bol 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 re-elected 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 re-election 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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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 Bol 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 re-elected 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 re-election 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.

30 review for The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Pauline

    What has the country come to if I’m marking a book by John Fucking Bolton as “To Be Read”?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Just as a thought experiment, would you, in 1943, have read a tell-all memoir about Adolf Hitler written by a disgruntled Rudolf Hess? A. Give my hard-earned money to one of the Nazi Party's former leaders? Are you crazy? B. Not read the latest dirt on Hitler? How could I resist? C. I would have to read it of course, but it would be a stolen copy. D. I'd wait for the Goebbels book, it would be better written and have juicier stories. E. With Alan Turing's capable help, I would invent the internet and Just as a thought experiment, would you, in 1943, have read a tell-all memoir about Adolf Hitler written by a disgruntled Rudolf Hess? A. Give my hard-earned money to one of the Nazi Party's former leaders? Are you crazy? B. Not read the latest dirt on Hitler? How could I resist? C. I would have to read it of course, but it would be a stolen copy. D. I'd wait for the Goebbels book, it would be better written and have juicier stories. E. With Alan Turing's capable help, I would invent the internet and Goodreads, then review the book without having read it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marius von Heinen

    As a Norwegian, I simply find American politics amusing. Why? Because they are not like the politics in Norway. Our "far-right" is "far far left" compared to the US. We're different from you guys. I find French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Swedish, and British politics just as amusing because they are different (more similar than the US though). As Trump would probably tell people that this book is made up of lies and recommend everyone to not read it, I just had to get it and read it. And I did. Lik As a Norwegian, I simply find American politics amusing. Why? Because they are not like the politics in Norway. Our "far-right" is "far far left" compared to the US. We're different from you guys. I find French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Swedish, and British politics just as amusing because they are different (more similar than the US though). As Trump would probably tell people that this book is made up of lies and recommend everyone to not read it, I just had to get it and read it. And I did. Like all political books, it's a tough, slow and rather boring read to be honest, but it's still an important enough book for Trump to tweet about it. The book is somewhat, as expected, revealing. If it's true or not is not up to me to tell, but most of it does fit the description of Trump that we're already used to "across the pond". Personally, I do not see why anyone would spend their time writing this, if it is all lies. It's not exactly a page turner, but some of the situations described are well worth the read. Would recommend this to people who want a nuanced view on the "Trump vs. former employees". For all the people just making "reviews" to complain about Bolton, the Mueller-rapport and Trump and shit or trying to give this book shitty reviews just to stop people from buying it, please ... I beg you .... Fuck off. This is not the place for your shit. Go somewhere else. Any social media or whatever, just not here. This is a "sacred" place to some, so please respect it. I wrote my first review because you guys pissed me off.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Arthur Graham

    BOLTON: I'm willing to testify if subpoenaed. REPUBLICANS: He's just trying to sell a book! ME: Then why offer so many damn spoilers?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    2.5 stars, rounded up for now Update after finishing: I don't feel like I learned a lot, aside from learning that this guy is a pompous ass. He really finds fault with just about everyone ...except himself. Of course he paints the picture of a stupid and incompetent Trump (like I said, nothing I didn't already know) but he didn't help with the impeachment, nor does he offer his solution to making a Trump a one-term president. Voting for a third candidate (Independent, etc) is not a solution, but 2.5 stars, rounded up for now Update after finishing: I don't feel like I learned a lot, aside from learning that this guy is a pompous ass. He really finds fault with just about everyone ...except himself. Of course he paints the picture of a stupid and incompetent Trump (like I said, nothing I didn't already know) but he didn't help with the impeachment, nor does he offer his solution to making a Trump a one-term president. Voting for a third candidate (Independent, etc) is not a solution, but a complete waste of a vote. Hopefully he'll vote for Biden even if he won't admit it. Also, the book is boring and would have done well to be about half the length. Anyway, don't waste your money on this. Borrow it, borrow it, read reviews, or whatever. This guy doesn't deserve to make a dime. ---- Update 6/30: Downrated to 3 stars and I don't expect that rating to go up. I'm not liking the author at all. And nothing else really surprises me. Hoping to finish by the end of the week (I just finished chapter 11, so not too far to go). Update 6/25: Finally reading this and these are my early impressions: Book is boring AF so far. Author is a self-important douchebag. Nevertheless, I will persist. ---- Pre-release thoughts: What is the world coming to where I find myself reading books written by Republicans??????? But, hey, if Trump wants the book suppressed, I definitely plan to read it. Will I pay my hard-earned money for it? Absolutely not. I'll borrow a copy. And I'll adjust my rating accordingly after I read it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Perhaps one of the most anticipated political books of the summer, I chose to leap on the John Bolton memoir before reviews filled Goodreads and other platforms I frequent. Written based on his time working inside the White House, Bolton not only brings first-hand knowledge of events, but also offers insights into what he witnessed during his time as National Security Advisor. With a long history of work within various Republican administrations, John Bolton was not a man wet behind the ears whe Perhaps one of the most anticipated political books of the summer, I chose to leap on the John Bolton memoir before reviews filled Goodreads and other platforms I frequent. Written based on his time working inside the White House, Bolton not only brings first-hand knowledge of events, but also offers insights into what he witnessed during his time as National Security Advisor. With a long history of work within various Republican administrations, John Bolton was not a man wet behind the ears when being considered for a position in the Trump Administration. His experience and hawkish approach to international politicking surely caught the attention of Trump and some of those within his inner circle. Bolton hit the ground running, explaining that every day in the Trump White House is fraught with chaos and ever-changing views on hot button issues. Bolton sought to steer the president in a few directions that would follow policy to support those views that arose in the campaign, at times doing anything to reverse the Obama trajectory. From America’s role in the Syrian civil war to Russian involvement on world events, Bolton showed how Trump’s opinions would change with the blowing of the wind, wanting America out of military involvement and yet not letting its greatest adversary to think it weak. This Russian sentiment baffled me throughout, as Trump would speak poorly about Putin and yet relied on him to win his seat in the Oval Office. Bolton also explores issues with China at length, clashing with one of the world’s economic superpowers at every turn, and yet Trump offered them the chance to keep him in power by ‘helping’ with the 2020 election (a la Putin 2016). Dismantling NATO and contemplating destabilising the leftist Venezuelan autocrat also played heavily on Trump’s agenda while Bolton was National Security Advisor, with many offhand and somewhat outlandish ideas coming up regularly before POTUS could be talked away from the ledge. Bolton spends much time throughout the book exploring the Trump view at finally getting some concrete progress with the North Koreans, with in-depth discussions of their two summits and the ‘love affair’ the media explored through the flowery diplomacy that took place, yet nothing substantial came to pass. Of equal interest and importance is the means by which Trump sought to dismantle the nuclear weapons treaty with Iran that had been negotiated during the Obama Administration. Trump seemed keen to change the rules and make sure America came out on top, while making sure that many new how horrible Obama was as POTUS (second only to Bush 43, whom Trump appeared to loathe even more). Bolton is happy to offer blunt views of Trump and those in the know, at times sharing views with other Cabinet officials as they watched the continued implosion of all things Trump. Bolton also sheds light on the constant sentiment that Trump is one who holds firm views of people, fleeting as the interactions change from day to day, including a strong dislike for some of America’s greatest allies, while praising those who are firmly in the column of ‘enemies of the state’. Bolton provides some insight into the Ukrainian interactions that fuelled the fire towards impeachment, offering his own ideas from the facts he knew. That Bolton and Trump eventually fell out is of no shock to anyone, as those who refuse to be sycophants are apt to become, but the recent vilification of anything Bolton might have to say only furthers my belief that there are hard truths in this book that many who nurse from the presidential teat would have us deny as a new round of false news. This book is full of detail and great narrative that will be ideal for those who want some additional insights into how the Trump White House ran things, both from an international and domestic perspective. I’d recommend this to those who enjoy all things political, as well as the reader who has no trouble hearing truths that may run counter to the POTUS circus. I have never hidden my dislike of the current American administration, particularly the ringleader of the shenanigans. While I understand that media outlets will offer their own spin on events, I have come to appreciate those on the inside who offer up books about the events they witnessed. Some would call it smear campaigns or falsehoods to trip up POTUS, though I wonder how many people could have colluded with such a similar narrative, as well as what purpose it would serve to exert such energy to bring down a man who seems able to do it on his own. Bolton is by no means a Democrat seeking to dismantle the GOP machine, which only makes some of his views all the more insightful. He offers praise where it is needed and critiques things that seem to lack the insight to keep America from running amok (alas, we are well past that). Bolton does come across as a know-it-all at times, feeling that he is the smartest man in the room and all others should bow to his intellect, which is seen in many tongue-in-cheek sentiments expressed in most chapters, as well as in recollected conversations with others. While that may be the case, Bolton’s views are steeped in some well established views of international politics and diplomacy, something that adds to the flavouring of the book and leaves the reader to wonder why someone would purposely skew things that can be substantiated so effectively. With thorough chapters that explore many insightful areas that are sure to pique the interest of the politically minded individual. While some may call Bolton too close to Trump, it is this closeness that offers the reader some of the many views from behind the curtain. Why would someone like Bolton want to find himself on the outside with this book, upsetting POTUS, thereby making him an enemy of the administration? Knowing Trump’s penchant for such things, Bolton’s better off pissing from outside the tent inwards and letting the truth ‘hang out’. Kudos, Mr. Bolton, for such a refreshing book about the inner workings of Trump’s Administration. I could not ask for anything more! Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    He wouldn't testify. I won't be opening my purse. You?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bren

    No, I am not done yet. Not even close. Rarely do I wrote a book review of a book I have not finished. But it needs to be done. This book by Bolton is gigantic. It will take me awhile to finish it. I will read it at my leisure. But as anyone who knows me knows..I do not like Trump. Originally I was not going to buy this because I think Bolton is a coward who cares more about profit then doing the right thing. But..he's still way better than Trump. And I am curious. And Trump does not want people to buy No, I am not done yet. Not even close. Rarely do I wrote a book review of a book I have not finished. But it needs to be done. This book by Bolton is gigantic. It will take me awhile to finish it. I will read it at my leisure. But as anyone who knows me knows..I do not like Trump. Originally I was not going to buy this because I think Bolton is a coward who cares more about profit then doing the right thing. But..he's still way better than Trump. And I am curious. And Trump does not want people to buy the book. Says it may have classified information. So, I want it. The book I mean. And I want to rate it a perfect five even if it is not. That's how childish I am! Anyone who screws Trump over..well..they can't be all that bad. Besides, the book could be pulled any day and I want to read all the Classified stuff and all the writings Trump does not want us to see. The book I just reviewed before this one is all about the power of the mind..let's all of the Never Trumpers try to see in our minds Trump losing the election in November. And I want Biden to win Mississippi. Will do a proper review when who le book is finished. But it's pretty good so far!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook...Biography/memoir ...narrated by Robert Petkoff. ...John Bolton reads his epilogue. ...There are professional reviews.... ...There is the publishers summary.... and ...Other readers who are much more qualified to review this book, than me. ...Seriously scholars, political geeks, history buffs... don’t need my unqualified review. That said... ....I listened to 20 hours and 52 minutes- ‘knowing’ I wasn’t understanding half of it. But.... ...Half of it I did! I figure my half-ass-effort of Audiobook...Biography/memoir ...narrated by Robert Petkoff. ...John Bolton reads his epilogue. ...There are professional reviews.... ...There is the publishers summary.... and ...Other readers who are much more qualified to review this book, than me. ...Seriously scholars, political geeks, history buffs... don’t need my unqualified review. That said... ....I listened to 20 hours and 52 minutes- ‘knowing’ I wasn’t understanding half of it. But.... ...Half of it I did! I figure my half-ass-effort of listening/ understanding this book still counts or something. Some of it went right over my head. But..... ITS A FRICKEN DISASTER inside the White House... A FRICKEN FRIGHTENING NIGHTMARE!!! I felt it took ‘forever’ for John Bolton ( in chapter 1), to explain his process of getting hired by Trump as the national security advisor. Bolton worked for Fox news. Trump kept telling Bolton that they shared the same views. Trump wanted Bolton inside the White House so -in part - he could control - dictate - what he wanted said on Fox News. Why else is all other news FAKE? Trump can’t control other networks. Now that I’ve finished this book - it makes more sense to me now ‘why’ Bolton took extra time in having us see how ‘grueling’ ( felt grueling to me), it was before he had an official job [ with an inbox], in the White House. Basically... nothing seemed easy... But it never looked liked Bolton was begging for a job from Trump. ... not from what he wrote. It was Trump who was constantly going after Bolton. Since this book has come out - Trump ‘tweeted’ “For a guy who couldn’t get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago, couldn’t get approved for anything since, ‘begged’ me for a non Senate approved job, which I gave him despite many saying “don’t do it, sir”” NOT TRUE! Red flags were going up ABOUT TAKING THE JOB - ‘before’ Bolton took it- spending 453 days on the payroll. How he lasted 453 days -is beyond me. When Bolton tried to advise Trump on National security issues...they didn’t agree...( especially over a deal with Afghanistan) and other foreign affairs. Trump wanted to allow leaders of the Taliban to visit Camp David in just days before the anniversary of the 911 terrorist attacks to finalize peace talks. The idea was strongly opposed by Bolton. Bolton and Trump also disagreed about striking in Iran. Trump ‘strongly’ didn’t agree with Bolton > so....... Trump fired him. That’s 3 national security advisors fired by Trump! Guess Trump wants a puppet for an advisor. I don’t think Bolton is a peach-of-a-man - squeaky clean himself - but even though I had to slog through his book- I thought parts were revealing and interesting ( in a juicy gossip type of way). Reading about Bolton’s very first day on the job was like a horror-comedy act from Saturday Night Live. Things were chaotic- ‘really’ chaotic. The crisis in Syria was horrific; overpowering all other government business in the White House Bolton survived his first day... His first 4 days sounded like a nightmare. My guess - very few days were easy-breezing. Mostly ... this book was too ‘detailed’ for the average reader .... I understand the importance, but it was too tedious to read. Dates, time of day, and number of minutes for every meeting, every conversation, page after page, just gets tedious to read! Like I said... I understand the reasoning of documentation... But it was TOO MUCH!!! The New York Times said, “the memoir was ‘bloated’ with self-importance, even though what it mostly recounts is Bolton not being able to accomplish very much”. I AGREE... Guess that’s it for my review! The end!!! ( haha) The elephant in the room - ( the guy hidden behind the wizards curtain).... Yep..., no surprise... is Trump!! Trump is arrogant- is not stable - and he definitely rigged the last election.... WE NEED TO BE VERY CAREFUL THAT HE DOESN’T succeed again!!! Bottom line: VOTE IN NOVEMBER.... But NOT for Trump!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessaka

    A Dictator with Small Hands he came down the elevator A man with a purpose to Take over America with his racism and bigotry And what some claim to bem his charm I sat eating popcorn Choking on its kernels. He was not a Dapper Dan but became Teflon Don Not classy but crassy Yet some people loved him The children hid under cover The grownups could not believe I knew the man was a sociopath, a liar and a narcissist. I knew he wanted to create concentration camps and murder all journalists And I never took it back A Dictator with Small Hands he came down the elevator A man with a purpose to Take over America with his racism and bigotry And what some claim to bem his charm I sat eating popcorn Choking on its kernels. He was not a Dapper Dan but became Teflon Don Not classy but crassy Yet some people loved him The children hid under cover The grownups could not believe I knew the man was a sociopath, a liar and a narcissist. I knew he wanted to create concentration camps and murder all journalists And I never took it back even when people called me paranoid. While I was peeved that Bolton Would not testify At least he left us this, But I will not read it because I have had enough. But Trump has done his job well, People don’t believe in anything unless it comes from his own lips It is racism that pushes them on And they would love a Civil War But he has lost his health And is losing his mind He can barely walk and barely talk He could even have Alzheimer’s like his pappy had and basically, he is just not happy. but if we can keep his finger off the button or prevent another Civil War Maybe we can all get through this until November’s election. But I will tell you this: He wants to be a dictator above all else.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris A

    While I'll never forgive Mr. Bolton for staying quiet when it mattered, I'm quite confident that everything in the book is accurate and at least it is in time to help Trump lose the election. Those who refuse to believe it are simply continuing to lie to themselves about the huge mistake they made in 2016. It's not too late to wake up and snap out of it. Or, if you're fully aware and STILL support this traitorous president, it's never too late to re-grasp your lost conscience and turn your life a While I'll never forgive Mr. Bolton for staying quiet when it mattered, I'm quite confident that everything in the book is accurate and at least it is in time to help Trump lose the election. Those who refuse to believe it are simply continuing to lie to themselves about the huge mistake they made in 2016. It's not too late to wake up and snap out of it. Or, if you're fully aware and STILL support this traitorous president, it's never too late to re-grasp your lost conscience and turn your life around. Just. Do. It.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David

    What a fascinating inside scoop. I was impressed by the sheer detail and clear accuracy of this book. I'm more disapointed in anything, that the country has been run this way for this long. As a Republican, I am aboslutely not voting for Trump, between all the trusted accounts like Mattis or Bolton, his refusal to take racism seriously, and his denial of Coronavirus' threat. People will disagree, but it's so obvious now that he conned us. I'm sick and tired of defending every moronic or selfish thin What a fascinating inside scoop. I was impressed by the sheer detail and clear accuracy of this book. I'm more disapointed in anything, that the country has been run this way for this long. As a Republican, I am aboslutely not voting for Trump, between all the trusted accounts like Mattis or Bolton, his refusal to take racism seriously, and his denial of Coronavirus' threat. People will disagree, but it's so obvious now that he conned us. I'm sick and tired of defending every moronic or selfish thing he does, and seeing him act like an authoritarian on a daily basis is making a mockery out of the US.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Thing Two

    Where in the hell was all of this when Mueller was testifying? Where was this during the impeachment trial? Bolton had a chance to go down in history as a patriot, instead he’ll go down as a footnote. DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    I only read 34% of this, I could not do more! Bolton continued to brag about himself and his great ideas. He acted like he was the only adult in the room, even above the generals. Those great ideas were the idiot plans I had previously attributed to Jared or other severe right wingers. Now I know! He also bashed Obama's plans and how they needed to go down. He still is a war hawk and wanted to bomb the hell out of things. He has enough blood on his hands from the Bush administration to last a lif I only read 34% of this, I could not do more! Bolton continued to brag about himself and his great ideas. He acted like he was the only adult in the room, even above the generals. Those great ideas were the idiot plans I had previously attributed to Jared or other severe right wingers. Now I know! He also bashed Obama's plans and how they needed to go down. He still is a war hawk and wanted to bomb the hell out of things. He has enough blood on his hands from the Bush administration to last a life time! I had bought the audible book so if I didn't like the book I could return it, real perk!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Karen Adkins

    I got my hands on an advance copy and read it. Anyone who's bothering to read Goodreads reviews surely has already seen the leaked substance, so I won't repeat that here. What I will say is that Bolton comes across incredibly poorly in this tome (and I have no love lost for anyone in this administration): 1) His ego is endless. He has seemingly written down every piece of shameless/shameful flattery any person has ever uttered to him, and recounts all of them here, clearly tickled at all of them I got my hands on an advance copy and read it. Anyone who's bothering to read Goodreads reviews surely has already seen the leaked substance, so I won't repeat that here. What I will say is that Bolton comes across incredibly poorly in this tome (and I have no love lost for anyone in this administration): 1) His ego is endless. He has seemingly written down every piece of shameless/shameful flattery any person has ever uttered to him, and recounts all of them here, clearly tickled at all of them and taking them seriously. (Meanwhile, he endlessly talks about his clever stratagems of getting in people's heads with provocative tweets or speeches; it seemingly doesn't occur to him that some of this flattery might be less than gospel.) 2) He is incredibly petty. There is no slight so small that he's not willing to square it here; very early in his NatSec tenure, Mike Pence acts as chair/convenor of a meeting; Bolton makes sure we all know what a grievous etiquette failure that is and that Bolton made sure that didn't happen again. Good to know you're focused on the big picture, John. 3) His pettiness seems actively misogynistic when it comes to women. While he clearly thinks he's smarter than pretty much everybody else he encounters in his work life, his descriptions of women who work in the White House (Nikki Haley, Kristjen Njielsen) are particularly venomous, and gratuitously cruel. What exactly is the point of repeating a sexist slur Trump tells him Tillerson used to describe Haley to her face, particularly if Bolton doesn't know that it happened, other than to humiliate Haley in print? And Haley and Njielsen are relentlessly derided for their lack of intellectual firepower and strength of will, in ways and words that are stronger than say, his criticisms of Jared Kushner or Steve Mnuchin. His description of the FLOTUS staff as sorority mean girls seems tellingly trivializing. 4) He's even more of a chickenhawk than I realized (and I remember being appalled by UN Ambassador Bolton during the GWB years). The number of treaties he salivates getting out of, or fantasizes getting out of because of their sheer pointlessness, had me looking for a treaty he would actually defend (either in history or now) I could not find one in this 500 page book. 5) He lacks all self-awareness. At one point, he recounts himself describing James Mattis (who he seems particularly to resent, along with the other generals who serve in the administration. I suspect it has to do with the chicken side of his chickenhawkery) as "having a high opinion of his own opinion," and being good at not doing what the President wants him to. Both of those things clearly apply to Bolton himself, as *his own book* amply demonstrates, but I see no evidence that he recognizes this (or any other meaningful character weakness). And the fact that Bolton describes a White House where pretty much *everybody* is good at not doing what the President wants them to do, or manipulating the President for their own ends, that ultimately makes this book such a sour read. I've long thought that this Presidency reminded me of the late years of Henry VIII's reign, but that still gives the President too much credit. While Henry was whimsical, vengeful and consumed by rivalries and intrigues, he could still remember what he thought from day to day, and track when advisors hadn't done as he'd asked.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    While I’m not exactly a fan of Bolton’s, I do appreciate how thorough his ‘tell-all’ is - despite coming short of telling all. My guess after reading this, that telling all would require an entire set of encyclopedias, several bottles of aspirin and excessive quantities of alcohol. I cannot offer a comprehensive theory of the Trump Administration’s transformation because none is possible. Washington’s conventional wisdom on Trump’s trajectory, however, is wrong… Trump was always bizarre, but While I’m not exactly a fan of Bolton’s, I do appreciate how thorough his ‘tell-all’ is - despite coming short of telling all. My guess after reading this, that telling all would require an entire set of encyclopedias, several bottles of aspirin and excessive quantities of alcohol. I cannot offer a comprehensive theory of the Trump Administration’s transformation because none is possible. Washington’s conventional wisdom on Trump’s trajectory, however, is wrong… Trump was always bizarre, but in his first fifteen months, uncertain in his new place, and held in check by an ‘axis of adults’ he hesitated to act. As time passed, however, Trump became more certain of himself, the axis of adults departed, things fell apart, and Trump was surrounded only by “yes men.” ‘Yes men’ who never read the government’s “operator’s manual,” leaving things to go ‘to Hell in a handbasket’ as my grandmother would have said. What happened on one day on a particular issue often had little resemblance to what happened the next day, or the day after. Few seemed to realize it, care about it, or have any interest in fixing it. And it wasn’t going to get much better, which depressing but inescapable conclusion I reached only after I had joined the Administration. Caught by surprise by his ‘victory’ at the polls, Trump’s team was not prepared, and Trump ’didn’t understand much of what the huge federal behemoth did before he won, and he didn’t acquire much, if any, greater awareness during the transition, which did not bode well for his performance in office.’ There’s another quote, also within the first 1% of this book, that offers another opinion of Trump. Charles Krauthammer, a sharp critic of his, told me he had been wrong earlier to characterize Trump’s behavior as that of an eleven-year-old boy. “I was off by ten years,” Krauthammer remarked. “He’s like a one-year-old. Everything is seen through the prism of whether it benefits Donald Trump.” Trump often comes off in this, unsurprisingly, more like a whiny toddler threatening a major temper tantrum than presidential. Not exactly shocking news, but there are plenty of other comments from others that support this opinion, as well as note his dangerous incompetence. Shocking, I know… This is a very dry account, with zero entertainment value, or mesmerizingly beautiful writing, it’s, as Joe Friday would say, “Just the facts, ma’am.” It’s politics, and it’s written by John Bolton, so don’t expect more, but if you’re interested in what the future could hold based on the past almost four years, politically speaking, it’s worth reading, if for no other reason than it is, indeed, worse than you could ever imagine. Vote.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Seems there are indeed hawks that pick out other hawks' eyes. I couldn't care less. I never did plan to pay anyway for hawks. Next!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ben Haskett

    I don't really read comics, but a quick Google search confirmed that in the Batman comics, Penguin and Joker have been known to team up from time to time. In one instance, they escaped from an asylum or prison or something together, only for Joker to, later, intentionally sabotage the plan of taking Commissioner Gordon hostage. This resulted in a standoff that threw the whole plan into chaos and left Penguin passed out on the floor. If you can imagine Penguin later writing a memoir about that fi I don't really read comics, but a quick Google search confirmed that in the Batman comics, Penguin and Joker have been known to team up from time to time. In one instance, they escaped from an asylum or prison or something together, only for Joker to, later, intentionally sabotage the plan of taking Commissioner Gordon hostage. This resulted in a standoff that threw the whole plan into chaos and left Penguin passed out on the floor. If you can imagine Penguin later writing a memoir about that fiasco, then you can probably imagine the tone of The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton. I'm not a fan of many of Trump's policies, so it's eye-roll-inducing to read about Bolton cheering when something goes “right” in this administration, and lamenting when one of their (in my opinion) awful goals fizzles because of Trump's unpredictability. It's probably not fair to compare Bolton to a supervillain (or Trump, or anyone else in his administration) and, in fact, the mainstream media has a habit of endearing former Trump administration officials. Everyone hates them when they're in office, and everyone seems to love them the moment they leave. I'm always reminded of that scene near the end of that movie Red Dragon, where Edward Norton confuses Ralph Fiennes into embracing the child he's taken hostage through insults. Bolton seems to have missed that fire department safety net, thanks in large part to his unwillingness to testify in the impeachment hearings without a subpoena. And now, it seems that nobody likes poor John Bolton -- the left dislikes him because he didn't testify, and the right dislikes him because he wrote this book. For what it's worth, though, I don't think Bolton minds or ever expected anyone to like him. In fact, speaking of John Kelly in this book, Bolton said, "I asked him to keep me posted, and he said simply, 'Okay, pal,' which told me he didn’t have a lot of friends left at the White House." Yikes. While I can't deny I developed a little bit of respect for Bolton's I-don't-give-a-f***-if-you-like-me attitude, this book was still a thoroughly unenjoyable read. I thought I might go crazy from all the times me mentioned enduring "eight years of Obama mistakes;" and no treaty, executive order, or deal went unprefaced by his distaste for it, regardless of which administration authored it. Bolton dislikes EVERYBODY. He insults literally anyone and everyone else in the administration, current and former. Everyone's an idiot, everyone's inexperienced, misguided, and wrong-headed. He calls Mnuchin a panda hugger, for crying out loud. Further, I was expecting a tell-all book, and The Room Where It Happened was far more interested in National Security. That can be interesting, too, but if someone invites you to a party, you'll be pretty disappointed if you show up and discover they meant Tupperware party. And sure, you might still buy something, but it's not the beer and pretzels you were expecting. But since I’m at the Tupperware party, I might as well try to get some enjoyment out of it, and Bolton’s approach to foreign policy in the Middle East, China, Russia, etc., were at the very least sort of fascinating. Anyway, when Bolton does talk about Trump, the book is similar to any of the other tell-all books out there, which is a little interesting if for no other reason than the fact that Bolton backs up a lot of the most salacious claims of the last three and a half years, albeit in a dryer choice of words. His biggest issue was how fickle Trump is. They'd get 90% into a process, and Trump would change his mind. Sometimes 100%. He'd "work" on something, see negative media coverage, and do a 180 on a dime. Or, also common is that Trump's decisions would be based on how he assumed the media would cover it. Everything was always about reelection, even from day 1. He never had a plan with North Korea, just thought the images of him and Kim Jong-un would play well in the media. Same with any other conversation with any other world leader. One particularly interesting passage was about Trump’s first meeting with Kim Jong-un: “I could tell from both Pence and Ayers that they were somewhat in shock, and Ayers said Trump wanted ‘to keep the meeting small’; it would just be Trump, Pompeo, and the interpreter on the US side, and Kim and his interpreter on theirs. There would be the absolute minimum number of people present to hear what Trump said. By this time, Trump was in a near frenzy, piling up standard-issue White House gifts (such as cuff links) to give away. One box was slightly creased, and Trump told Madeleine Westerhout harshly, ‘You’ve ruined this one, get another one.’ He then berated the White House official photographer, whom he wanted to stay only briefly while Kim Yong Chol was there. I had never seen Trump so wrought up.” Here’s another quote that, I feel, displays Trump’s priorities: "The next morning, February 20th, was the big day. Having stayed up well into the night watching Cohen testify, Trump cancelled the preparatory briefings [the following morning]. I worried that his every instinct would be to do something to drown out Cohen's hearings in the media, which he could only do with something dramatic and unexpected. Walking out [of trade negotiations] would certainly achieve that objective. So too, however, would making a deal he could characterize as a huge success, even if it was badly flawed. The flaws wouldn't catch up until later." And here’s one that displays Trump’s approach to Russia: "We held a second NSC meeting on July 27th to take another look at our efforts, with all the operating agencies reporting they were substantially better prepared than they had been at this stage of the 2016 campaign and much more aware of the kinds of threats they would face in their respective areas. We followed up this NSC meeting with a briefing in the White House press room on August 2nd, featuring [several people] and myself. Each official told the story of what their agency was doing, which we should have done earlier, and the briefing was well received, if grudgingly, by the press. One story called the briefing an administration show of force to show we were actually doing something on election meddling. Unable to criticize the adequacy of the effort, media therefore turned to saying Trump was following one policy and we were following another. Unfortunately, there was something to that, as Trump repeatedly objected to criticizing Russia, and pressed us to not be so critical of Russia publicly.” The bottom line is the same as any other negative book about Trump’s presidency: That doofus stinks, and we should vote him the heck out of there come November. Whereas Fire & Fury painted him like an endearing dimwit, and Fear and A Warning painted him like a villain, The Room Where It Happened paints him as an unlikable celebrity, who keeps taking bad roles in movies and then berating his various agents and managers for not getting him better work. In other words, he doesn’t really want to be a good president, he just wants to play one on TV. (The short version: I do not recommend this book unless you’re really interested in reading about national security from the point of view of a hawkish republican. There are some startling moments, but most have already been reported on again and again in the press, while others only reinforce earlier reports of Trump acting stupid. If you still really want to check it out, I recommend you stick to the final chapter and epilogue, since that covers the whole Ukraine thing and touches on why he didn’t want to testify. The rest of the gooshy stuff has already appeared in better books.)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    Bolton seems to have kept very detailed notes so this is a blow by blow description of the chaotic decision-making with respect to various crises. Nothing new here, just more of the background. I don’t agree with anything this man stands for. His views are appalling. His Trump enabling was despicable. He did nothing to help us get rid of Trump through impeachment. So now he wants our money in exchange for his sharing his negative views of Trump. Well, most of us were smart enough to recognize Tru Bolton seems to have kept very detailed notes so this is a blow by blow description of the chaotic decision-making with respect to various crises. Nothing new here, just more of the background. I don’t agree with anything this man stands for. His views are appalling. His Trump enabling was despicable. He did nothing to help us get rid of Trump through impeachment. So now he wants our money in exchange for his sharing his negative views of Trump. Well, most of us were smart enough to recognize Trump’s deficiencies before the election. (Although we didn’t know that his narcissism and stupidity would actually kill a lot of us.) So Bolton really has nothing to offer us, and he didn’t get my money. He didn’t even dish juicy dirt about the administration. I’m always willing to hear more of that. This book is really dull and it’s author is a smug, pompous, arrogant asshole, just like his former boss. May we please never again have a Republican president, if for no other reason than to keep Bolton and his ilk out of government jobs.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    If the controversial administration of a one of the most influential countries in the world is trying to make this book disappear, it is going to be a book that I want to support with my $.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Owlseyes

    https://www.politico.com/amp/news/202... https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nyti... If he really wrote what follows, it's more and more likely that HE WAS FIRED https://www.businessinsider.com/john-... https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/06/17/po... This is really 'embarasskin'.... Sounds like he's "part of the resistance",...is he? https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nyti... (view spoiler)["I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations https://www.politico.com/amp/news/202... https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nyti... If he really wrote what follows, it's more and more likely that HE WAS FIRED https://www.businessinsider.com/john-... https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/06/17/po... This is really 'embarasskin'.... Sounds like he's "part of the resistance",...is he? https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nyti... (view spoiler)["I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations" (hide spoiler)] “[Bolton] had a separate agenda and often arrived and departed on a different plane because he didn’t want to travel on Air Force One with the rest of us.” Sarah Sanders "Bolton was a classic case of a senior White House official drunk on power, who had forgotten that nobody elected him to anything.” Sarah Sanders --- "In politics there are no immaculate conceptions". Nevada's Senator Paul Laxalt, Bolton's mentor. "Instead the new administration resembled much more closely the Eagles song "Hotel California":"you can check out anytime you like/ but you can never leave". John Bolton https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/24/... --- "A lot of people don't like you. They say you're a leaker and not a team player". (...) "That was my last conversation with Trump" (...) "...,I was a free man again". In chapter 14, of the book https://www.foxnews.com/media/chris-w... --- I have caught myself wondering about this book: could it be possible in the Cold War time? Could you conceive one national security advisor publishing a book about the innermost workings of the WH? Don't answer. I know what you thought. John McCain did it. The Romans did it. Despite its historical detail, there's one gesture to translate my thoughts on this book. This one: 👎

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    It is truly appalling that someone who purports to be a public servant would maintain silence in the face of so much corruption going on in the same room, however this review is not about John Bolton, but this book he has written. Bolton's perspective comes with the assumption he is the smartest person in the room. Everyone else is a dummy, inexperienced, or otherwise lacking the ability to perceive the nature of evil in the world. That may be what he is going for, but he just comes off as a mon It is truly appalling that someone who purports to be a public servant would maintain silence in the face of so much corruption going on in the same room, however this review is not about John Bolton, but this book he has written. Bolton's perspective comes with the assumption he is the smartest person in the room. Everyone else is a dummy, inexperienced, or otherwise lacking the ability to perceive the nature of evil in the world. That may be what he is going for, but he just comes off as a monstrous, spiteful, warmongering chickenhawk. All of his choices rely on using sticks, and he has no flexibility at all. Therefore, as a diplomat, he is a useless ass, but there is such a lack of self-awareness that you watch him patting himself on the back with "clever" tactics to avoid responsibility and accountability, dodging here and there, always aiming higher, always just a little bit short, mostly because he is entirely untrustworthy and vile, though he trumpets himself a patriot. Along the way, he takes down a whole group of diplomats who are catty to a fault. In the end I really wonder what any of them are doing in government. That being said, some come off better than others, but the fact we perceive them through the distorted Bolton lens (where his own image is so blurred) lends them no credence. He did keep good notes, however, which would be terrible news for Trump's team, except the book is also such an overwhelming self-indictment of Bolton and his terrible judgment. Do his opinions matter at all? I don't think so. Trump, fwiw, comes off as you likely expect: a man of no morality who is fixed primarily on the public's perception of himself, without genuine beliefs, malleable to a fault, hilariously disloyal, and astonishingly unintellectual. I hate what this book says about America, but I cannot one-star the book, despite the narrator's self-absorption. I think it is important people read it, because clearly half of America's voters are brainless too. No matter how you feel about Trump (I abhor him), I strongly feel people like Bolton should never be in government. He is a dangerous man who happily has no power anymore and, I hate to admit it, Bolton being out of government is to Trump's credit. :-( That Trump also hired him (after such a long romance when his defects would be glaring) and thought Bolton's ideas worthy at all tells us much about how empty of brains is the room where it happened.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zora

    Duty! To! Inform! Too little too late Please take your book, Mr. Bolton, bend over, and shove it up your ass repeatedly. In hardcover.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    I did not enjoy this book. In many ways, I wished I had not read it. I guess I am tired of reading about an out of control two-year-old playing in the White House and disgracing the country. Prior to this it never bothered me who was in control of the government. I just figured the rotation back and forth between conservatives and liberals kept the country more or less in balance, until now. I did not learn anything new in this book, but it reinforced what other books have said. It did provide mo I did not enjoy this book. In many ways, I wished I had not read it. I guess I am tired of reading about an out of control two-year-old playing in the White House and disgracing the country. Prior to this it never bothered me who was in control of the government. I just figured the rotation back and forth between conservatives and liberals kept the country more or less in balance, until now. I did not learn anything new in this book, but it reinforced what other books have said. It did provide more inside information on what was happening at any given time in the White House. Bolton comes off as an arrogant know-it-all obsessed with Iran. Bolton’s information only confirms my opinion that Trump will see a second term as a welcome mat to become a dictator and dissolve our democracy. Sorry this is not my usual neutral review. I guess I am tired and fed up. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is twenty hours and fifty-two minutes. Robert Petkoff does a good job narrating the book. Petkoff is an actor and audiobook narrator. He has won the Audie Award and multiple Earphone Awards.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Yeah, he's a piece of shit for not testifying. And he's a coward. But you bet your ass I'm gonna read this book cuz I hates me some Trump. (Going to borrow it, of course... enough of my hard-earned money goes to rich old white men so this can be my tiny little punk rock protest).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Martina

    I will be reading this in memory of my friend Pat who worked much of her adult life in DC think tanks. She met most of the 'players' at one point or another (and often their dogs) and had decided views of each. There are some fascinating memoirs and memories coming out of this administration.

  27. 4 out of 5

    BookNightOwl

    A lot of inside information on relations with other countries. I found this book slow and somewhat rather boring not because it might have been but more that I dont know all the political going on with other countries. I did learn a lot about our country leader at this time and how he makes radical decision because he feels like it will make him look good. Even if those decisions are deals with terriost.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jelly

    Gonna be sailing the high seas to acquire an e-copy of this one. 🤣

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maxine

    I don’t read books written by cowards and traitors.

  30. 4 out of 5

    George Bradford

    I received a free copy of this book. And after reading it I can say I paid a fair price. The author is a pompous blowhard. And that makes reading this poorly written book very difficult. He cannot string more than three sentences together without bragging about himself in an unrelated matter. His arrogance is titanic. I use that metaphor on purpose. This is a guy who thought going to work for this president would turn out well. History speaks for itself on that. And no one with common sense would I received a free copy of this book. And after reading it I can say I paid a fair price. The author is a pompous blowhard. And that makes reading this poorly written book very difficult. He cannot string more than three sentences together without bragging about himself in an unrelated matter. His arrogance is titanic. I use that metaphor on purpose. This is a guy who thought going to work for this president would turn out well. History speaks for itself on that. And no one with common sense would have predicted otherwise. Oh, but he did get a book deal for his service. Here is that book. And it’s jammed full of things everyone already knew before reading this book. To wit: (NO SPOILER ALERT BECAUSE YOU ALREADY KNOW ALL OF THIS) - Jared has too much power - Trump doesn't read, doesn’t get stuff - Trump really really doesn’t get foreign policy - Foreign leaders manipulate Trump - Trump is hot for Putin - Trump blessed Xi's concentration camps Okay, maybe the blessing of the PRC’s Human Rights Criminality is a new piece of information. But it is in no way surprising. This is not a good read. It is not educational. It adds nothing new. It is poorly written. And author — like most of the characters in the story — is a coward out to profit from his cowardice. I would have given this minus (negative) stars if it were possible.

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