There has been a flurry of coverage this week about Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, which, from what I gather, is a largely uncomplimentary portrait of our current president. Questions have been raised about how the author gained such access, and the reliability of some sources. There has been a huge falling out between the president and a former adviser, who has had to step down from his leadership of Breitbart News. There was a “cease and desist” order which the publisher has ignored, selling out their first run of the book. [By the way, I think this is an unconstitutional attempt to abridge First Amendment press freedoms, to which the president, like all other citizens, is subject.]
While I fully support the right to publish this book, I won’t be reviewing it. Here’s why:
- Fundamentally, I have to make choices about what I think is worth reviewing for the purposes of this blog, which is about what promotes the good, the true, and the beautiful. There are so many good books I want to read and review (some waiting to be read), and I honestly don’t think I have time for this “take down” book, whether accurate or not, which I will leave to others to debate.
- This is the kind of book, no matter what I write about it, that will confirm the views of those who oppose the president and arouse the ire of those who support him. It’s not a book that will change minds. Frankly, I don’t want to host an argument about the book on this blog.
- I think the more important discussions right now have to do with how we make this country work for all of its citizens, “red” or “blue.” I want to pay attention to voices articulating a bigger vision for our country. That’s why in the past year I’ve reviewed books by John Kasich and Ben Sasse, as well as by activists like Matthew Desmond and Bryan Stevenson.
- I suspect that many people who care about this book are already reading it, long before it would be possible for me, and you already have your opinions and don’t need mine.
- Finally, I don’t think this book will be part of our national discussion for very long. I have a sense that by the time I get to reviewing it (because of books already in my review queue), it will start turning up in the bargain bins at second hand stores.
For now at least, I’ve done all the reviewing of books on this president that I want to do in the one book I’ve reviewed bearing his name, Choosing Donald Trump. I like this book’s call for people of faith to exercise “prophetic distance” with this and all presidents. That’s different from unquestioning allegiance or hidebound opposition and calls us to a greater and more generous vision of our country and for our world. Those are the conversations I want to uphold.