We cannot well judge a book by its cover. So what do we do before we buy a book? Reviews can be helpful, particularly when they include excerpts from the book. In The author of the explosive new Trump book says he can’t be sure if parts of it are true (businessinsider.com), the reviewer includes an excerpt from the Prologue. Consider this excerpt from the review.
Michael Wolff, the author of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” included a note at the start that casts significant doubt on the reliability of the specifics contained in the rest of its pages.
Several of his sources, he says, were definitely lying to him, while some offered accounts that flatly contradicted those of others.
But some were nonetheless included in the vivid account of the West Wing’s workings, in a process Wolff describes as “allowing the reader to judge” whether the sources’ claims are true.
In other cases, the media columnist said, he did use his journalistic judgment and research to arrive at what he describes “a version of events I believe to be true.”
Here is the relevant part of the note, from the 10th page of the book’s prologue:
“Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. These conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book.
“Sometimes I have let the players offer their versions, in turn allowing the reader to judge them. In other instances I have, through a consistency in the accounts and through sources I have come to trust, settled on a version of events I believe to be true.”
The book itself, reviewed by Business Insider from a copy acquired prior to its Friday publication, is not always clear about what level of confidence the author has in any particular assertion. (from here)
Why is this in the Prologue? CYA, I suppose. My guess is that Wolff and his publisher were a little nervous about getting sued for defamation. What is ridiculous is that with that phrase, “Trumpian fashion”, Wolff implies that Trump is responsible for the untruthfulness of his book. Did Trump write it?
Anyway, Wolff’s book apparently belongs on the shelf where fiction is sold. When nonsense like this garners so much attention, that is a sad state of affairs.