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Prospect’s books of 2018

Politics

In 2018, much ink was spilled over Donald Trump’s car-crash government. Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury (Little, Brown), 1.4m copies of which were ordered in its first week, is a reckless account of a reckless president. Filled with gossipy nuggets that might pique the interest of special counsel Robert Mueller—Steve Bannon described Don Jr’s dealings with Russia as “treasonous”— Wolff’s book is, in our reviewer’s words, “the most unflattering account of any sitting president in US history.” Until the next two Trump books, that is. Fear (Simon & Schuster) by long-term president watcher Bob Woodward is a sober dismantling of the current White House. Institutional damage is less visible but still important. Michael Lewis’s unsettling The Fifth Risk (Allen Lane) looks beyond the tantrums to analyse how government departments have been emptied of talent.

Anyone looking fondly back at the Obama administration can pick up engaging and selfreflective accounts from his former speechwriter Ben Rhodes in The World As It Is (Bodley Head) and his former ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, in From Cold War to Hot Peace (Allen Lane). (Possibly in response to McFaul’s criticism, Trump discussed handing him over to Putin.) Michelle Obama’s Becoming (Viking) is a candid account of being married to a driven young man who, weeks after their marriage, flew to Hawaii alone to write his memoir. For the long view on the ideological roots of Trumpism, Sarah Churchwell’s Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream (Bloomsbury) is indispensable.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s January/February double issue: A host of writers and personalities explain what they think will be the most important thing we need to learn in the new year. From Justin Welby arguing for new emphasis on learning to forgive and Lord Neuberger on the importance of a free judiciary to Hannah Fry on AI and Cathy Newman on what happens next for #MeToo—Prospect has it all. Elsewhere in the issue: Fintan O’Toole looks at Brexit from an Irish perspective, Wendell Steavenson dishes the dirt on what really happens to the waste you want to recycle, Frank Close questions why—half a century after our last visit—we’ve not been back to the Moon. Also, Michael Blastland argues that we’re ignoring the upsides of having an alcoholic drink and Clive James explores the life of Philip Larkin.