Choosing this book

Reading ‘Fear’ was my initiation to examine the details of Donald Trump’s years in the White House. While he was the President, I would try to tune into the news but it would always leave me with a bad headache. I ultimately resolved to never actively search for news related to him; I would in fact tune out as much as possible.

Credit: New York Times Cartoon

However, every time I would hear someone confidently expressing their opinions about USA politics, I would find myself struggling to comprehend. I felt torn. When the book ‘Fear’ was released in 2018 I wasn’t ready for it. But eventually when time passed and my strong bias towards his presidency faded a little, I decided to dig deeper with a neutral mind. Given Bob Woodward’s stellar reputation, I took a leap of faith and decided to give it a read.

Style of Narration

Before I started this book, I expected it to be filled with Donal Trump’s horror stories; instead the narrative was rather objective, devoid of any assumption or judgement. Even the most scandalous of stories were stated in an “alleged” manner; of course otherwise it would attract plenty of lawsuits. But it is noteworthy that Bob never added any color to his stories, neither did he imply that any of the stories were facts. He was simply reporting and he was doing it quite wonderfully, like a true journalist. Therefore, despite the dry text I found myself being drawn deeper in the book.

The book also touched on important international relations and some geopolitical issues. For instance, USA relations with Russia, North Korea, Afghanistan, South America, China, India and more. The most striking part of the text was not ‘what’ decisions were made by the President, rather ‘how’ these decisions were made; that part really exposes Trump Presidency.

I gradually started to perceive a clearer picture of Bob’s narrative. I was beginning to understand Donald Trump’s temperament and approach towards governance. And I must say, had the text been even slightly coloured with personal feelings or opinions, it would be very hard to read about already such a triggering subject.

A bit about Donald Trump

My first question before I started reading the book was, How did he get elected? And even after completing the book, I could not fully understand it. What I did understand was that the threshold of candidate selection is surprisingly inadequate. In addition, there seems to be a paucity of capable leaders. On a side note, it is baffling for me to understand how a country with such great educational institutions has failed to supply worthy leaders to lead their own country?! Anyway…

Credit: The Week

When the subject is already controversial, critiquing it more so shall do no good. Therefore, I adopted an academic approach towards this book and tried to learn what ought not to be when holding a leadership position.

When my inability to perceive Donal Trump’s real persona was resolved, I was finally able to identify his attributes and form an opinion. I made a bullet point list of some of his characteristics. Once you are done reading them, it is your turn to decided whether you would trust a person with any of these habits to make a decision for you. Go ahead, create a lesson out of it:

A quote from Fear
  • lying to his own team members;
  • not maintaining a to-do list;
  • not respecting official procedure;
  • whimsical decision making;
  • short memory span;
  • spontaneous administration style;
  • rigidity towards any new idea;
  • judging a person based on her/his appearance;
  • carrying out Presidential duties with business mindset;
  • hesitance to speak against racism and violence in America;
  • watching about 6 hours of TV daily;
  • basing decisions on TV commentary;
  • inability to co-exist with an opposing opinion.

(Take a minute to breathe)

Towards the end

I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Donald Trump when his Lawyer, despite best efforts, could not persuade him to change his course of action for the sake of saving himself. He eventually resigned, like many others. Such was Trump’s rigidity that, he lost countless opportunities to be saved or steered back in the right direction.


‘Fear’ is an interesting read if you are interested in USA politics, its international relations and understanding what leadership does not mean. Perhaps, great educational institutions do not create leaders; a strong character originating from adversity, courage and kindness does.

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