A Warning by Anonymous

In September 2018, an anonymous member of the Trump administration authored an op-ed for the New York Times decrying the president’s actions while also suggesting there was a cabal of officials serving as a barrier against his most irrational choices. Now one year later, this same author has come forward with more of the same: this time, a book-length eyewitness assessment of the tumultuous backstage drama that’s unfolded in the highest political office in the United States.

The book is coming from inside the White House—as if there wasn’t enough political paranoia going around.

In the opening pages of A Warning, the author notes that the first two years of Trump’s presidency were so stormy that officials discussed mass resignations to drive attention to his abuse.

They didn’t, so here we are.

And therein lies the problem with their warning. The author spends much of the book lamenting Trump’s unfitness for office—something they suggest has only gotten worse with each passing year. Yet, even after noting that their strategy of working behind the scenes to keep the White House on track has failed spectacularly on occasion, they still refuse to put their name to paper and reveal who they are. They offer up plenty of reasons why their identity would distract from the text—some compelling—but the cloak of anonymity does them no favors. Like privately threatening to resign only to shrug it off when the boss shows up, it’s a weak response. If the situation is as severe as they describe, writing an anonymous manuscripts feels like the equivalent of oiling a squeaky door while the house is on fire.

Even setting aside the issue of identity, there are hardly any new revelations for anyone paying a modicum of attention to the constant barrage of reporting from diligent journalists. Trump doesn’t like to read. Trump regularly shouts strings of expletives. Trump bungles meetings and events. Yet the author treats each of these moments with such revelatory awe that it feels as though their target audience is anyone who has never heard of Donald Trump. More frustrating, in a further attempt to hide their name, they regularly anonymize coworkers and other officials who comment on the proceedings. They’re just nameless, faceless sentinels who walk around in a perpetual state of shock.

A Warning was marketed as a political exposé , the likes of which have never been seen before. However, for once, the live production might be better than the book: the current impeachment proceedings provide tangible officials discussing their experiences—their names, faces, and reputations on full display.


Title: A Warning
Author: Anonymous
Publisher: Twelve
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Classification: Nonfiction, Politics

Publisher’s Page | Goodreads


10 Comments

  1. I’m SO glad I read your take on this. I’ve been debating whether to read it or not because it seemed so important, but it sounds like they oversold it. That’s interesting that the anonymity hurt this so much, I’d thought it would’ve meant the contents would’ve been more…shocking, I guess? Sounds like a wasted opportunity. And also disappointing is that if the situation is really so dire (I believe it, obviously, like you said we can all see it) then why aren’t they following through on their plans to do something about it? Instead they just suck it up and keep going? Also doesn’t sound like any major changes are going to come from this. How disappointing! Thanks for the excellent review.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really, really went back and forth on reading this one, too I try to stay on top of popular political books—even as awful as most of the are—so I finally caved … it just wasn’t worth it, though. There’s nothing in here that you wouldn’t know if you’ve spent a minimum of time paying attention to this presidency. Funny enough, I wasn’t concerned about the anonymous aspect, but I found it grating before the first chapter was over. It basically reads like someone railing against a boss they hate, but refusing to take their (perfectly valid) grievances public because they like their cushy position. And you nailed the most frustrating aspect of all! The fact that nothing will change. Sure, warnings are usually bleak, but they’re rarely as useless as this.

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  2. Thanks so much for your insightful review, Christopher💜 I just couldn’t imagine learning anything new here given that the daily reporting of the awful truth is always on display. If Anonymous could offer some reasons as to why an entire political party chooses to prop up this man at the expense of our democracy, now that would be a reason for me to read this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful post, Christopher. I refuse to delve into politics very much because it’s ALL just so much hate, greed, prejudice, manipulation, etc. etc. So many ads and whatnot that focus on blasting opponents instead of just stating what candidates aim to accomplish.

    I can see how the anonymity would hurt this book. If this is something they truly believe should be done, I agree, they should do it. Publishing something like this just seems a further attempt to line their own pockets, instead of just informing the public, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand exactly what you mean. I try to stay up on my political reading, because it all does interest me in a way. But it’s a toxic environment, and it takes a lot of pushing to get through all the mess.

      And yes! I didn’t write about it, but knowing the eventual gain the author will probably receive from writing this is a little irksome. I understand that they didn’t accept an advance and their royalties are being donated. However, at some point, the author will become known, and I’m just curious how that will translate to them monetarily—whether in speaking engagements or a private position or whatever.

      Liked by 1 person

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