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The Room Where It Happened

A White House Memoir
Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
Length: 20 hrs and 52 mins
4 out of 5 stars (30 ratings)

Non-member price: $48.75

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Publisher's Summary

John Bolton reads the epilogue!

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 the 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 early on, “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. 

©2020 John Bolton (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio
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20 Hours of crying and self promotion.

As much as I hate Donald Trump, it was hard to endure 20+ hours of John Bolton's crying and self promotion.

He proudly displays his arrogant world view and perspective on lesser intelligent people around him.

disgusting.

10 people found this helpful

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self indulgent memoir

being australian i hadn't heard much about john bolton beyond a few mentions on planet america. i wish before i started reading I should have googled him and found out he's a bit of a war mongering nut job. in the context of trumps administration that makes him one of the more stable genuises.

This isnt much of a tell all of trumps embarrassing viewpoints and decisions (though there are more than a few). its more of an opportunity for bolton to assert his crazy diplomatic and military views unchallenged in a self serving manner. he uses phrases like intellectually lazy re his critics. and harps on about his ethical standards and how willing he was to resign again and again. just as bad as trump really in terms of not wanting to be seen as the dumpee than the dumper.

5 people found this helpful

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A weaselly little book

In John Bolton land only his opinion matters and everything he touches is gold. Just another memior from a trump supporter that facilited the most corrupt US president in America's history. Apparently Trump went off the rails just months before Bolton resigns...a ridiculous claim only to save Bolton from being accused of lacking any moral fibre.

4 people found this helpful

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Bolton is the same as Trump

John Bolton has no respect for any opinion except his own, listening to his self aggrandisement for over 20 hours, no, I couldn't make it that far. Trump is a terrible president and a terrible person, but Bolton is a slightly more intelligent version of him with slightly different views. He still has the temperament of a spoiled child however. His descriptions of the media as 'frothing' to his constant derision towards the Obama administration, it is the work of a partisan hack who can't see the irony in his creation.

1 person found this helpful

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Convincing account

Every political memoir invariably places the author in the role of principled hero. Check. But it rings true from the glimpses we saw and still see of the broken executive. The actual author reading the epilogue was a treat too.

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  • M. C.
  • 23-06-2020

A love letter from Bolton to Bolton

The bombshells are already all over the news. Don't waste your time. Bolton pats himself on the back at every turn while throwing practically all members of the Trunp and Obama administrations under the bus.

136 people found this helpful

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  • Mark H. Allenbaugh
  • 23-06-2020

Important but poorly written

Bolton provides important context to the political crisis of our time: the incompetent, megalomaniac occupying the Oval Office and his small band of sycophants. Nonetheless, Bolton writes like Trump thinks. Well, if Trump could think in complete sentences. Bolton's thoughts are, to borrow a particularly apt phrase of his, an archipelago of dots that the reader is left to connect. Although, not the entire book suffers from this. Apparently some chapters were professionally edited. But others, like the first chapter, read like he simply transcribed his notes. If you have the patience for poor political prose and already have a nuanced understanding of the events Bolton discusses, this may be worth your library. Otherwise, just watch his ABC interview. It covers the highlights coherently.

103 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-06-2020

Even with Trump - Boltons story is boring

Absolutely love American politics so obviously this book was highly anticipated.
The book is a self-indulgent, sluggish and an elongated read.

It reads much like it was originally written a day by day recantment of what Bolton did in the white house, in bullet point form with some lackluster attempt to flavour it with minimal details unless their personally motivated opinion told as fact.

If you want a boring book from an old warmonger past his time, describing an incompetent administration with false praise for himself - look no further.
2/10 would not bang

101 people found this helpful

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  • D. Martin
  • 24-06-2020

A telling book!

John Bolton’s book is an insiders guide to the chaos that happens almost daily in Trump’s White House. Plus it shows Trump’s inadequacies of asking questions that at the time indicates how fragile Trump’s cognitive abilities really are.
Only negative is that the first couple of hours of the book are fairly dry until the book starts speaking of Bolton’s appointment to NSA. This book is perfect for anyone who has come to the belief that Trump is a habitual liar & incompetent as President of OUR country!

63 people found this helpful

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  • Iassen Donov
  • 23-06-2020

The truth comes out from the biggest war hawk

I always thought Bolton was nuts. As a Republican I thought he was even too war hawk even for my own tastes. But at the end of the day, he is a Republican through and through. Unlike the false prophet posing inside the Oval Office. Bolton's narrative is concise and damning.

61 people found this helpful

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  • Jb
  • 25-06-2020

Nothing salacious here, just a diary

At 21 hours, it’s about 4 times too long. It’s a memoir of Bolton’s career, and might be sort of a recitation of his diary. I am amazed he did not hurt his elbow patting himself on the back for all his experience. Tedious descriptions of meetings and not very salacious. I really wanted salacious nasty stuff! And there was not much of it. I started skipping around, slept through an hour, listened to maybe 3 hours, and checked the epilogue a little, where he told about the review of the manuscript and whether it was classified. But I'm trading it in because I just couldn't listen to him recite old news. So if you want to hear about John Bolton’s description of some meetings in the oval office, it's a good book for you.

53 people found this helpful

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  • Robert Jason
  • 24-06-2020

Bolton is in love with himself

Lest we forget, or forgive, Bolton's cowardice at refusing to testify because it helped the opposition, his latest book proves Bolton loves only one person-himself. His ego is inflated to mythic proportions. Much like his former boss believes that only he can fix America's problems, Bolton incorrectly believes time and again that he's the smartest person in the room.

There are moments that make you cringe, knowing these people are in charge of the country, but nothing that really hasn't been reported on previously. The fact that slumlord Jared Kushner handles sensitive materials and speaks with foreign leaders even though he doesn't have security clearance is infuriatingly baffling.

This poorly written ego trip proves two things: the White House is a disaster, rivaling Trump University and Trump Casino for the title of the best of the most poorly managed companies by Trump; and that Bolton is an egotistical, self-serving, pompous ass.

The country deserves better than these clowns. That's the takeaway. Save your money and your credit.

The narration is excellent. The material should have been written on toilet paper then appropriately flushed.

45 people found this helpful

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  • jmholcomb73
  • 23-06-2020

Great listen although I feel parts of this book should wear a,”FICTION” tag.

An interesting look at the inside of the most powerful room in the world. Regardless of your political orientation I feel you will enjoy this book. Some parts I feel are exaggerated for entertainment purposes, but I feel the book is exactly as intended by Bolton and that is to be his personal spin on the Oval Office.

I recommend giving this book a listen whether we believe ever word or not.

42 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-06-2020

"A riveting look into the white house"

So far in the first 3 hours I am hearing some very unsettling things. A Billion dollar president who seems to portray himself careless and unapologetic is actually making calculated and distasteful statements to divert the public's attention away from his organization and family's blunders, Interesting.
Great narration! Now back to it

38 people found this helpful

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  • Edwin Calderon
  • 23-06-2020

Boring!!

This guy is very full of himself and he has way to much free time on his hands if he can remember time and date of every conversation he has with all these people ( including his lunch dates). Life is to short man!

36 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 24-06-2020

I did everything right..says Bolton. don't bother!

This book is a tedious and dishonest portrayal making himself the poor suffering victim trying his best!

13 people found this helpful

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  • papapownall
  • 26-06-2020

The powerful book that Trump tried to ban

Despite former Fox news pundit John Bolton only being in the Trump administration for 17 months as National Security Adviser (the hardest job, according to the author as opposed to Secretary of State which he describes as the easiest job), his memoirs of this time weigh in at an astonishing 600 pages or around 20 hours of listening time for the audio version. President Trump has famously tried to ban this book which has made it more interesting than it should have been. Bolton's political outlook is firmly in line with the president and he has not wavered from his alt right stance in his 2010 book "How Barack Obama Is Endangering Our National Sovereignty". Trump is famously not a detail man. Bolton certainly is.

Bolton was not Trump's first National Scrutiny Adviser, there were three before him and, currently there have been a further two since. Trump's hiring and firing during his first year in the White House was unpredictable and chaotic and was possibly a reflection of the theory that Trump never expected to win in 2016. Trump liked Bolton's outspoken commentary on Fox news (but not his moustache) and hired him rather than a military man.

So what did Bolton do in his short time before leaving through the revolving door? He key "achievements" were to advise Trump to drop the US commitment to the Paris Climate Change Agreement (apparently an attempt to subvert global power), was behind the US controversially recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and removing the US from the UN human rights commitments. Much of his short tenure was consumed with US foreign policy in relation to North Korea and Syria. Bolton disagreed with Trump's negotiations with North Korea which did not matter too much as Trump took the lead and did not allow advisers to be present in his meetings thus damaging the US relationship with South Korea.

Bolton became increasingly exasperated by Trump who treated global diplomacy like a New York real estate deal and felt marginalised by not being able to attend meetings and finding out major policy decisions such as US withdrawal from the IMF, and imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium via the president's tweets. Trump dithered over strikes against Iran due to concerns over images on TV and this lead to Bolton eventually realising that he would not want to remain in position with Trump as president if there was to be a real crisis and resigned from his position in September 2019.

Trump is famously not a detail man acting on instinct rather than analysis. Bolton is the polar opposite to this. This book is turgid at times and could have done with a good editor; there are a few gems in here though such as Trump not knowing that the UK has nuclear weapons and thinking than Finland was part of Russia. Bolton gives his views on certain world leaders and gives his views as to what Trump thought of them too. Neither of them rated Theresa May or Jeremy Hunt and Trump disliked Macron and Trudeau. Trump never, apparently, gave any indication as to what his views were of Putin. He also wanted Bolton to delay the publication of this book until after the November 2020 presidential elections. There is certainly a lot in here that could cause damage to Trump, in terms of both his international standing and with the US electorate. Powerful stuff indeed, if a bit stodgy.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Alex Martin
  • 24-06-2020

Brilliant

This is very well written and well read. Constantly intriguing and shows what is like to be part of the Trump White House. I would recommend it to any person interested in US politics

11 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. Ben 'Goatboy' Waters
  • 25-06-2020

The Super-Scary TRUTH about POTUS!

See past the self promotion of the Author, and you have a super scary idea of what Donald Trump is REALLY like, and worse, how TERRIFYING it is for all STAFFERS in the White House, and the Secret Service detailed to POTUS. Capital Hill, the Senate and the House of Representatives have never had to deal with working for someone living in his own demented reality show, who only knows how to communicate via lies and falsified exaggeration, all the while, setting up a (so he believes) legally airtight Base to create his own Dictatorship over the USA from the White House and Trump Tower! Buy this book and know what is REALLY going on in the President's mind, a very worrying thing indeed!

10 people found this helpful

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  • Jim W
  • 25-06-2020

My diary: John Bolton age 13 and three quarters in the White House

I did this.
Then I had lunch
Which was my idea
The room looked nicer than when I was there last.
Most people will not be looking for the level of detail provided which does nothing to advance the narrative. He is probably quite a wise man with a lot of experience, but it doesn’t read that way at all. It’s just his opinions with no discussion, which are usually that things should be bombed or broken. There are times when this is doubtless the right strategy, but you will never find out which are which from this book - and he certainly wouldn’t be the right person to discuss it anyways.
I felt like I was always waiting for the book to get going, but if you feel the same way you will be waiting a long time.

6 people found this helpful

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  • bookworm77
  • 26-06-2020

Dreadful

This book is just dire. Bolton sees himself as the poor victim!

As a writer he is excellent and the book is certainly well written, laid out and thought provoking in areas. However, I don’t feel the book itself is worth reading. I expected something different, but to be honest I’m not sure what I expected. Perhaps, taking responsibility for some of the mess and the monster he helped create would have been more sincere. Don’t expect this as you will only be dissatisfied. I get that he tried to keep him in check and he tried to make him see reason but the way he lays this out makes himself seem like the victim.

If you want to know what the book is about then listen to the news as the main talking points are really the gist of the full book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jon
  • 24-06-2020

Will drive you up the wall!

Although the story is interesting - the edit of the performance means that it jumps and pauses which became irritating and spoils the book - so far this is the worst book I have downloaded - again due to edit of performance not story/book

3 people found this helpful

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  • CD
  • 25-06-2020

Nothing to see here

Just bought this on a whim not my usual tipple. It just goes on and on about how great he is, how he worked with bush 43. Yada, yada, yada. Most of the stuff had already been leaked or in the news. Waste of a credit.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Maria
  • 25-06-2020

Everything one imagine Trump is in black and white!

As a foreign following US politics and domestic behaviour as all the actions tend to have an impact in the world economy being the most important thing after world health and found this book very important and all should read. For the ones that like me can’t wait for November to come to have a control on the Covid-19 situation in the US, because otherwise there will be no Americans to tell the story, having a “president “ that cares less about his people that his relationship with dictators around te world, one that wants to meet with the taliban, the one that abandoned his allies in the middle of a crisis, the one that turns its military on his own people .....
At least wile John Bolton was there we had someone sane in the picture, now what it who do we have?!
Great read, thank you for the insight.

Regards
Maria

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  • Fleetwoodboy
  • 27-06-2020

What a great let down

A complete waste of time and money as this book is just an egotistical monologue

1 person found this helpful