The Room Where It Happened

The Room Where It Happened

A White House Memoir

eBook - 2020
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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 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 reelected 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 reelection 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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Aug 13, 2020

Like everyone else I slogged through this book determined to finish it. It was the most difficult book I’ve ever read in my long life. And I’ve read everything from The Wind in the Willows to Decline of the Roman Empire. All the way through John Bolton paints himself as the only sane voice in the House of Chaos. In other words it’s a testament to himself.

Aug 06, 2020

Like other readers, I too tried to get through this book. I just couldn't. The first sign that it wasn't an honest retelling of what happened came in the first few chapters where Bolton said the president was vindicated. Say what? From there on I knew it was going to be a lopsided self-serving summation of his fall from grace. Here is clarification on the topic of 'vindication' from

"The cries of vindication do not survive even the most cursory examination of the document itself. . . ."No, Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, and no, he did not conclude that President Trump had obstructed justice. But Mueller emphatically did not find that there had been “no collusion” either. Indeed, he described in page after damning page a dramatic pattern of Russian outreach to figures close to the president, including to Trump’s campaign and his business; Mueller described receptivity to this outreach on the part of those figures; he described a positive eagerness on the part of the Trump campaign to benefit from illegal Russian activity and that of its cutouts; he described serial lies about it all. And he described as well a pattern of behavior on the part of the president in his interactions with law enforcement that is simply incompatible with the president’s duty to “take care” that the laws are “faithfully executed”—a pattern Mueller explicitly declined to conclude did not obstruct justice."

Jul 31, 2020

Dreadful book! just awful. Turned it back in w/o reading much. If he had not made such a flap about not testifying, nobody would be interested for good reason.

Jul 26, 2020

The author may have been in THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED, but there’s very little new in this book that’s not already been written about the Trump administration. John Bolton should’ve testified and saved Americans the grief of having to read this tedious and self-serving tome.

Jul 24, 2020

I tried, REALLY tried, to slog through this book. Just couldn't get past Bolton's snarky, self-serving ego.

Jul 22, 2020

He certainly fleshed out many of the news events that we knew about. I wish he would have testified before the Senate but even with his information, I'm not sure those spineless Republicans would have let it influence their votes. It was interesting to learn about how Guiliani got Trump to fire the Ambassador to Ukraine, most likely to protect some of his other clients. It was nice to read where the author used complete and complex sentences which made sense--unlike the President.
Bolton was quite critical of Trump's method of making decisions unless it was a decision that he agreed with !

Bolton studied at Yale, as I did, so I was not surprised that his memoir is so detailed at 500 pages plus many pages of footnotes to support his statements. He is a lawyer as well as a national security specialist, so also not surprising very detailed about negotiations and who said what when. This is not just a tell all about Trump, but describes actions of many members of the Trump administration.

Jul 07, 2020

I have the same opinion as the comment below by GinaMarguerite except I’m reading front row at the Trump show next

Jun 27, 2020

For me, as with many others, this was a highly anticipated read. With photographs the book is a bit over 500 pages and not a light read by any means either in weight or information. For an intelligent and highly educated man Bolton is a horrible writer.

The book read more like a deposition or someone's diary and while parts were interesting, most of the internal ruminations were pretty dull reading. If you read the paper or listen to the news you already know most of what is in the book.

Maybe I would have found it a more interesting read if I hadn't read Jonathan Karl's Front Row at the Trump Show just before it. The contrast between the two biography/memoirs is dramatic. Karl tells his story in an engaging, well written story. He includes entertaining and educational anecdotes. Bolton writes in a very dry, day by day, hour by hour "I did this. I did that." style read which makes slogging through it difficult at best.

One can only hope that what he does say in it will be taken to heart and readers proceed accordingly.

Jun 26, 2020

Bolton signed a non disclosure agreement. Funny how everyone has a book already out. Who is going to trust this man again

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