Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

A Warning

Rate this book
An unprecedented behind-the-scenes portrait of the Trump presidency from the anonymous senior official whose first words of warning about the president rocked the nation's capital.

259 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 19, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author


791k books3,090 followers
Books can be attributed to "Anonymous" for several reasons:

* They are officially published under that name
* They are traditional stories not attributed to a specific author
* They are religious texts not generally attributed to a specific author

Books whose authorship is merely uncertain should be attributed to Unknown.

See also: Anonymous

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
3,653 (32%)
4 stars
4,115 (36%)
3 stars
2,606 (23%)
2 stars
649 (5%)
1 star
214 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,729 reviews
Profile Image for Maru Kun.
215 reviews486 followers
Want to read
October 23, 2019
Looking forward to seeing how many "1 star" ratings this gets before it's even published from new Goodreads members who have never read any other books.
Profile Image for Ben Haskett.
Author 5 books33 followers
April 6, 2020
I am pleased to report that this book is NOT a simple chronological blow-by-blow of Trump's campaign, inauguration, and presidency. Honestly, it's bad enough to live through it in real time. (It was painful to read through it in Michael Wolff's Fire & Fury , and it was something close to torture to read it again in Bob Woodward's Fear .)

Instead, A Warning uses Cicero's criteria for leadership to run through various events in Trump's presidency like a time traveler. One minute, staff members are pacing a room thinking how they're going to defend Trump clearly defacing a weather map; the next, Trump is insisting that there are very fine people on both sides of the Charlottesville incident. The benefit of this approach is that the author is able to lump similar events together to show a clear pattern in Trump's behavior and decision-making process. The book is intelligently communicated and is far less salacious than other Trump books I've read, but nevertheless paints a clear picture of a man who doesn’t really have any interest in government, no knowledge of how government works, and even less interest in learning how government works. He’s an old man who’s spent his entire life with subservient staff who jump at the chance to do whatever he wants. As a result, he doesn’t know or care what anyone’s role is – they’re all just there to do what he demands, even if it means asking the press secretary to wash his socks.

A Warning, which seems to have been written specifically for republicans, comes off less like the warning it says it is (until the very end) and more like a sincere plea. The plea is a simple one: being a good president is more than simply appointing conservative judges willy-nilly, and Trump has none of those good qualities, so please, pleeease, pleeeeeeeease do not vote for him in 2020.

The most surprising thing about this book is how little of it wasn’t already in the public domain. I’m pleased with that – while the book does sometimes give us a look into the foul life of our president, the book doesn’t rely on things we can’t prove. Instead, it groups similar patterns and events together so that we can clearly see Trump’s cruelty, ineptitude, and incuriousness at every level. Most of the private interactions between the author and the president simply involve a bit more swearing than what we see in public. He hates/mistrusts notetakers, often stopping halfway through a meeting when he finally notices someone taking minutes and shouts something to the effect of “WHAT THE F*CK ARE YOU DOING?!” All of the nicknames/terms of endearment he has for women are plastered across one awful, cringeworthy page.

All in all, this was a great, quick read. It’s damning, but with a somber tone and an underlying plea that we decide we deserve better than him. While I don’t think it will change the mind of even a single Trump supporter, I do think it’s the closest thing out there to accomplishing that.
Profile Image for Adam Shinners.
8 reviews3 followers
November 15, 2019
I challenge all Senate Republicans to read this book. Preferably before the next round of hearings.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,295 reviews120k followers
November 5, 2022
He was like a 12-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately, indifferent to the planes skidding across the runway and the flights frantically diverting away from the airport. This was not how it was supposed to be.
In the history of American democracy, we have had undisciplined presidents. We have had incurious presidents. We have had inexperienced presidents. We have had amoral presidents. Rarely if ever before have we had them all at once.
Given the spate of news reports and exposés in newspapers, magazines, TV, and in social media, it is impossible to keep up, as the outrages revealed last week are topped by the revelations brought forth this week, which will, of course, be topped by the revelations coming out next week in the book by whichever former Administration official or government whistle blower is next up. What makes any of them any different from any other? We know that Trump lies incessantly, so it is no shock to anyone with a functional brain when yet another lie is shown to be just that. What makes this book different (and, having read only a few of these things, I may be omitting similarities to books I have not taken in) is the view, fueled by observation, of just how bad things actually are.

In September, 2018, The New York Times published an op-ed by the author (I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration), which caused a stir. The notions expressed there were developed into a book, A Warning, which was published in November 2019.
The administration was only a few weeks in, and already the mayhem made everyone look foolish. Internal whispers grew louder; This was not a way to do business. As a result, people who’d previously been outsiders to Trump World grew closer to one another and developed a bizarre sense of fraternity, like bank-robbery hostages lying on the floor at gun-point, unable to sound the alarm but aware that everyone else was stricken with the same fear of the unknown.
The author, who purports to be a “Senior Trump Administration Official,” divides the book between references to classical sociopolitical looks at leadership, and his-or-her first-hand observations (and second-hand reports) of Trump’s behavior, with a bit of analysis of the groups and competing interests within the Administration.

Anonymous looks at what the ancient Greeks considered the ideal traits of a leader, using Cicero’s De Officiis (On Duties) as the measure. Point by point, the author contrasts the qualities thought desirable in a leader to the traits of Donald J. Trump. Things like Wisdom, Sense of Justice, Courage, and Temperance. It will come as no surprise that Trump presents the exact opposite traits from what one would want. Duh-uh. But it is nice to see it spelled out in reference to a classic perspective.

This is mostly a been-there, done-that listing of the awfulness of Trump, delineated by type and sub-type of awfulness. Yawn. In a more alarming reference, Anonymous looks at Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, a right-wing screed which sees in most state intervention in an otherwise unfettered (feral?) economy enslavement by the state. It is much loved by right-wing grad students, the same folks who read Ayn Rand with one hand. But there are some pretty good passages on totalitarianism, which is far likelier from the right than from the left, particularly in the USA. A quote from Hayek and some summaries of Hayek’s points sound just about right re what an aspiring autocrat needs:
“He must gain the support of the docile and gullible, who have no strong convictions of their own, but are ready to accept a ready-made system of values if it is only drummed into their ears sufficiently loudly and frequently.”

…Hayek said authoritarian types need to weld the group together by appealing to their basic human weaknesses. “It seems to be easier for people to agree on a negative program—on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of the better off—than on any positive task. The contrast between the ‘we’ and the ‘they’ is consequently always employed by those who seek the allegiance of huge masses.”
Of course, Hayek goes too far,
an autocrat needs a group with questionable morals, which will also tend to be undereducated
Sorry, this is pure class bias, presuming as it does that the well-educated, who tend to be wealthier, are of a higher moral character than the poorer, less-well-educated rabble. Are the Kochs well educated? The Republicans in the Senate? The thieves on Wall Street? The CEOs of oil and gas transnationals? If anything, the middle, working and poor classes might be said to be of superior moral quality to those in power, who often seem selected by their degree of disregard for everyone else.

The primary benefit to reading A Warning is to get a “you-are-there” sense of just how much of an idiot Trump truly is. A man of unparalleled venality, inflated self-regard, uninterested in learning, believer that all knowledge is to be found inside his tiny brain, a thief, liar, life-long criminal, and legend in his own mind, convinced from birth that rules do not apply to him, and now empowered to surround himself with a rotating cast of sycophants who serve to reflect back to him his vastly inflated sense of his own infallibility.

Quoting the Boss, Badlands, Poor man want to be rich. Rich man want to be king. And a king ain't satisfied till he rules everything. Continuing on, King wants to be god. It worked for the Roman emperors. It is not at all shocking that Trump is encouraging the lunatics who proclaim him the second coming. Without, of course, all that messiness on Calvary. Even for those of us who tend to regard him as the epitome of the inherent evil of entitlement-plus-money, it becomes quite clear that those in the asylum with him have a much darker view of his mental competence than the general public.

The secondary benefit is to get some detail on how the Madness (or is it criminality?) of King Donald manifests.
We can tell when Trump is preparing to ask his lawyers to do something unethical or foolish because that’s when he begins scanning the room for note takers. “What the fuck are you doing?” he shouted at an aide who was scribbling in a notebook during a meeting…His paranoia is the best evidence of a guilty conscience.
If you wonder why the man who criticized Obama for playing too much golf spends such an incredible amount of time away from the West Wing, one reason (not to minimize Trump’s aversion to actual work) is that his staff schedules him for as much time as possible out of town to reduce the likelihood of major screw-ups. It is not news that the man made famous for the line “You’re Fired,” on TV is too cowardly to fire anyone in person, preferring to do the job by tweet or by having another underling do the deed.

What Anonymous calls The Steady State is comprised of like-minded individuals, die-hard Republicans, who favor GOP policies, but are concerned about the behavior of the president. They do what they can to siderail, dissuade, or ignore presidential wishes that fall afoul of the law, common sense, or human decency (in that order). However, even Anonymous admits that the Resistance in the White House has seen its numbers drop and its hopes fade. Not sure if that means Anonymous is now a lone voice or not, but if resistance to foolishness is a lost cause, what is Anonymous still doing there?

Anonymous presents clear Republican ignorance, or dishonesty, certainly bias on many occasions. For example, Anon lauds the wisdom of the founders in choosing a representative rather than a direct democracy, as the mob is too subject to flattery and demagoguery, and will overwhelm more sedate reason. While there certainly is some basis for this concern, this manages to put the responsibility for such danger entirely on the people, ignoring that it is business, the business of Fox News and lobbyists, for example, that create these groundswells, and which the Republican Party has been more than happy to exploit to get its way. He lauds Trump for installing a Stronger conservative bench. The installing of right-wing judges on SCOTUS would have happened under any Republican president, and was made possible in part by Mitch McConnell refusing to bring Obama’s nominee to the Senate, essentially stealing a seat. Great guys, those Republicans. He also lauds the burdensome red tape that has been slashed on his watch, closely matched by the resulting degradation of our environment, which is somehow not mentioned. Add to it the changes to our insane tax code. Oh, you mean adding over a trillion dollars to the federal debt by giving money away to the wealthy and to corporations? Now, that’s crazy. And on it goes.

Excerpts from A Warning were released in The Washington Post a few weeks before publication. One highlight was of a possible midnight self-massacre to let the public know of the chaos that reigned in the White House. But they didn’t, did they? Which is a lot like watching Jeff Flake or Susan Collins twisting themselves into pretzels before the cameras to avoid admitting they would toe the party line, only to apply all ten toes to that line when it came time to vote. So, aside from dividing Trump’s lackeys into Sycophants (shirts) and Silent Abettors (skins), how much do we actually learn here?

Primarily the value of A Warning is in showing us the depth of the morass, just how venal, just how criminally inclined, just how ignorant, just how egotistical, just how intolerant, just how cruel and mean-spirited, just how resistant to knowledge, and just what an absolutely awful human being Trump is. And to portray a White House staff that has to wonder, every bloody day when they wake up, what has he done now? Yeah, and?

A Warning does not really tell us much that we did not already know. It is entertaining (in a dark way) at times, but sometimes also feels loaded with filler. It is not a bad book, but in a world lousy with better books about Trump and books about the issues which Trump has impacted like cruise passengers fed bad sushi, I would look elsewhere. You have been warned.
We learned that, given enough time and space, Donald J. Trump will abuse any power he is given.

Review first posted – January 10, 2020

Publication date – November 19, 2019

PS - If we still have a republic after Donald Trump walks out of the Oval, or more likely, is carried out in a body bag after a third or fourth secret heart attack, or, my personal favorite, is frog-marched out of the office in the custody of armed law-enforcement or military officers, we will owe him a debt of gratitude. Donald Trump has given the United States an invaluable lesson. By his total disregard for social, legal, and political norms, by his willingness to thumb his nose at the rule of law, he has shown us where our fault lines lie. He has shown us what can happen if we put a malignant narcissist or even a sociopath into the presidency. And we should use this lesson to construct a stronger union, one that does not rely on the good will of decent people to lead our nation, but enshrines into law mechanisms that assure that another Donald Trump can never again happen here. (As of November 2022, we are still waiting)

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Items of Interest
-----De Officiis by Marcus Tullius Cicero – on Gutenberg
-----Springsteen - Badlands
----NY Times – September, 2018 - I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration
----The Road to Serfdom - by Friedrich Hayek
-----The Lincoln Project - Bloodlines

----Other Trumpian books worth a look
-----Tyrannical Minds by Dean Haycock
-----The Plot to Destroy Democ racy by Malcolm Nance
-----Fear by Bob Woodward
-----Collusion- by Luke Harding
-----Trumpocracy by David Frum
-----Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff
-----Unbelievable by Katy Tur
-----The Case for Impeachment by Allan J. Lichtman
-----Truth in Our Times by David E. McCraw
Profile Image for donna backshall.
643 reviews177 followers
April 23, 2021
This book blew me away. Sure, for the message, but absolutely for the writing.

For something purported to be so hastily written, this work was positively eloquent. In A Warning we have relevant literary references, intelligent insight and truly artful phrasing. And yes, we also have a cautionary message from someone in Trump's own camp that few can (or should) ignore. But back to that delivery: a very educated someone totally nailed it.

We aren't supposed to distract from the message by trying to guess who the messenger may be, but the talent is telling. I would not be surprised to find out this book comes to us through the pen of a White House speech writer.

Overall this was a worthy read, and I am recommending to every one of my reader friends. And if I ever find out who wrote it, I will be buying everything else s/he has written.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,725 reviews12.8k followers
January 29, 2020
As the political circus in the United States continues to reach its five-ring splendour, many people look on and shake their heads. There is another incarnation soon to come in the form of a presidential election by the end of this year, which will surely be as intense and full of mud-slinging, as well as a peppering or racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic sentiments in the guise of ‘saying what everyone is thinking’. But, what can you expect when the purported leader of the Free World has no sense of decorum. I approached this book with the same trepidation I have many of the other tell-all Trump books over the past few years. Will something come to light that I can seriously credit to being useful to better understanding how things are being run into the ground as the world watches? Many other tomes have been attempted smears or sour grapes, which I do not deny, while also understanding that there are truths buried in the narratives. This book left me feeling differently and perhaps a little more worried. The author, who chooses not to reveal themselves for well-founded reasons discussed in the introduction, offers the reader insider views of the West Wing and Oval Office, particularly when it comes to the way Donald J. Trump runs his show. Much of it will not shock the reader—he does not read, he changes his mind hourly, his views are expressed in Tweets rather than formal policy announcements—though coming from the inside and not someone who has been scorned on the outside makes it a little more worrisome. Additionally, there are other areas the public is not privy to know about that have turned into major gaffes, saved only by aides and cabinet officials steering the train back on track with a moment’s notice. The author purports that much of the comments made in and by media outlets are true, well-grounded, and not jaded at all. The real Donald J. Trump, as his Twitter handle says, is the one we know so well. Coming into the election cycle, people need to know this and that it is not some mirage or #fakenews. There are solutions, the greatest of which rests in the hands of the electorate, which cannot be ignored. I can only hope enough people heed these warnings and think ahead of November 3, 2020. Told in a balanced manner with many examples, the author uses historical studies and research to substantiate some of these authoritarian traits, as well as the direction the country is headed should they not be nipped in the bud. A great read for those who want fact over smear, as well as a sobering look by someone inside the Storm who is trying desperately to hold things together.

I have never hidden my disdain for Donald J. Trump or his Administration. While some criticise me for speaking out, as I do not live in the United States, I simply remind them that this is a man whose stupidities cause waves all over, especially above the 45th Parallel. The shenanigans that come from the horrible things that are said and done cannot be a slip of the tongue or pen on occasion, this is the real deal. The author supports that and keeps the reader enthralled with examples and comparisons to historical rules as they relate to power, control, and democracy. This is not a study of the man, but of how one man and his sycophants have taken the Office of the President and turned it into their own plaything. Suckling at the teat of Mother Russia, finding new ways to divide the country, and distant the world from this country on the verge of social collapse seem to be on the checklist of this Administration for as long as they are permitted. The author uses these strong examples and a handful of well-crafted chapters to show that this is not a nightmare, but a full-on disaster scenario that cannot be ended with one election. Like a child on a full tantrum, the mess will take a long time to fix, but that kid needs OUT of the store right now. I marvel at how this tome was ‘rushed to be written’, as it is so well done and thought out. It substantiates where there is a need and dismisses some of the rhetoric that some will use to deflate it. The choice to not reveal themselves was brilliant and the reasoning, while it irks supporters and some reviewers who are entranced with Donald Jerk Trump, keeps the spotlight on the man who is banging pots. Americans have a choice this November and I hope they use it wisely. We, in the outside world, await to see what happens, but we are far from unaffected.

Kudos, Anonymous, whomever you may be! I hope your words reach the electorate in time and that much of what you say sinks in.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Brad Galloway.
71 reviews2 followers
November 19, 2019
I wish I could put a copy of this in the hand of every American. It is a rather bleak and sobering look at the presidency of Donald J. Trump, and more than anything makes me pray that he is ousted from the office in 2020. The author points out all the reasons we need a new president, whether it's another Republican or Democrat, we really can't afford another 4 years of this man in the office.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,846 reviews516 followers
November 23, 2019
This book didn’t tell me a thing that I didn’t already know about Trump, and the author is no better than the other mealy-mouthed apologists and enablers who are willing to work for him and support him, despite the fact that they know what a despicable human being he is and what ruin he is bringing to the country. His only solution is that we should all vote for someone else next time. That’s a big help. What we need is someone with the courage to make a huge, noisy exit from this administration and expose the dirt that has not already been revealed, because we all know there’s more. This president hasn’t met a law or ethical standard that he is not willing to break, and Anonymous is still helping him to do it. Really weak.
Profile Image for Lynn.
862 reviews125 followers
November 24, 2019
This is one of the most frightening books that I have read in a long time. Stephen Kings has got nothing on “Anonymous”. At least King writes fiction.

The author doesn’t reveal anything that we don’t already know about Donald Trump; he just puts it all in context, especially in terms of his being POTUS. His impulsivity, his lack of knowledge about how governments run; his sense of entitlement, his vulgarity, his lack of a moral center, his refusal to have intelligence briefings, his making decisions based on his instincts instead of information, his alienation of our allies and courting of despots. These are just a few of the traits he describes from an inside’s vantage point. At one point he writes:

“We learned that, given enough time and space, Donald J. Trump will seek to abuse any power he is given.”

After citing chapter and verse about the dysfunction of this administration, he then goes into what kind of people support or enable him in the administration. A kind of psychological evaluation of them. He also explores what it will take to remove him from power, which he contends is the only way to restore America’s own moral compass.

“If we look within ourselves and undertake the arduous task of moral repair, America can restore the soul of its political system. We can once again illuminate a pathway for others onto the vaunted plazas of open society. If, however, we shrink from the task, our names will be recorded by history as those who didn’t pass the torch but let its light expire. That is my warning. Every American generation before us faced and passed this test. Our charge is to do the same, proving that the United States can do what other civilizations could not - survive the ages - and bend the arc of the moral universe toward the value that is the real sinew of civic life: freedom.”

I realize that I refer to the author as “he”, but realistically, DJT does not surround himself with strong women, so I assume that the author is a man. The book is surprisingly well written, much better than Michael Wolff’s book or Bob Woodward’s book were. The author is clear eyed as to what the problems are, how they came about and what can realistically be done to end this nightmare of an administration. He understands his own complicity in remaining in the White House, but feels this may be the only way he can try to prevent more disasters. I honestly don’t care who the author is, and he makes a good case for maintaining his anonymity, at least for now.

“I have decided to publish this anonymously because this debate is not about me. It is about us. It is about how we want the presidency to reflect our country, and that is where the discussion should center. Some will call this “cowardice.” My feelings are not hurt by this accusation. Nor am I unprepared to attach my name to criticism of President Trump. I may do so, in due course. But when the sitting president prefers to focus on distractions, we need to focus on his character and his record. Removing my identity from the equation deprived him of an opportunity to create a distraction. What will he do when there is no person to attack, only an idea?”

This is an important, yet frightening book to read, but a “must read” as we approach the coming election. We need to weigh what we know about the current president against those who will campaign to replace him, and make an informed, moral decision about who and what we want our country to be.

History has its eyes on us.

Profile Image for Jean.
1,709 reviews742 followers
December 4, 2019
The book is well written. The basics of the book provide no new information, but there are new insights about the inside workings of the Trump White House. I must admit I attempted to unmask Anonymous as I read, but to no avail. The author uses the rules of leadership and compares Trump to the standard rather than write a chronological accounting. I came away with the feeling things are much worse than I thought and will not be easy to correct. The book is well worth the read.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is eight hours and fifty-seven minutes. Robert Fass does an excellent job narrating the book. Fass is an actor. He was nominated for the Audie Award eight times and won it two times. He also has won multiple Earphone Awards.
Profile Image for Lorilin.
757 reviews241 followers
November 20, 2019
I received A Warning in the mail this afternoon and devoured it within a few hours. The book is written by a senior official in the White House, we don't know who. It's written well--very matter of fact but also engaging. Honestly, I thought it was going to be a book directed more toward liberals, but I was surprised to find that it's much more a book written for Republicans by a Republican--kind of a plea to rethink what the party stands for.

The book is divided into eight chapters:

Chapter 1 talks about a group within the White House called the "Steady State." The author describes this group as people behind the scenes who "keep the wheels from coming off the White House wagon" by guiding Trump toward better, less crazy decisions. But the author says this group is all but gone now, since most people have quit or been fired by volatile Trump. So the author is writing this book because the people need to know who Trump is.

Chapter 2 is about character, what makes a good leader, and how Trump basically doesn't possess any of the necessary qualities (like courage, bravery, level-headedness, mental stability, loyalty, fairness, etc.) to be considered one.

Chapter 3 is how Trump isn't even an actual Republican. What was especially interesting to me is how much Trump has expanded the government and driven up the deficit. Did you know that he took our deficit from $587 billion (from when Obama left office) to over $1 trillion currently? And he is on track to add another $2 trillion in debt over the next decade.

Chapter 4 gives Trump's record on undercutting democracy, either through revealing government secrets and putting soldiers at risk or wanting to prosecute and persecute anyone who challenges him or undercutting his own intelligence community.

Chapter 5 talks about how badly Trump has damaged our international reputation and put us all in danger by alienating our allies while cozying up to dictators who don't even support us.

Chapter 6 is about how Trump talks like he's, well, straight out the trailer even when he's standing in front of the White House--how he uses his words to lie, insult and divide people, and encourage mob rule.

Chapter 7 is about the newest wave of staffers in Trump's White House. The author describes them as confrontational, critical, catty, vicious, incompetent, insecure, and easily manipulated. S/he also describes the environment as completely leaderless.

Chapter 8 argues how important it is to get Trump out of the White House using proper channels--no impeachment or takeover by the Vice President. The author believes the best way to get a new president is to elect one on Voting Day.

What an intriguing read! I was already familiar with a lot of the highlights of Trump's presidency, but the book still gave me some insights into both Trump and the Republican party. And the Democratic party, too, actually. I'm going to be thinking about this book for a while.
Profile Image for John.
65 reviews17 followers
November 21, 2019
"A Warning" is a strange mix of common sense, confirmation, and partisan propaganda that, oddly, feels like an expanded op-ed piece written by an outsider. I'm not saying the author isn't a "high ranking White House official," only that his or her fear of being outed means that there is virtually no insider information to be found within these pages which, let's face it, is the main reason why most of us are reading it in the first place.

To get this out of the way: The author claims the reason for his or her anonymity is to avoid the message being overshadowed by the messenger, but I believe this logic is faulty. The author's anonymity actually undermines the message. After detailing signs of Trump's systemic racism, for example, the author states "I still don't think he's a hardline racist, but draw your own conclusions." Not knowing who the author is makes it difficult to care what he or she thinks; it might as well be the guy on the bar stool next to me. And consider this, from page 185: "It's important that advisers speak truth to power. Presidents have enough flatterers in their midst. What they need more than anything are people willing to present unvarnished facts and to challenge bad decisions." Ideological statements like this, while lofty, carry no weight because without knowing who the author is we cannot know if they are actually voicing truth to the commander in chief.

From a literary standpoint the writing is good, but the author engages in one of my pet peeves: telling readers what they will find in the book if they keep reading as opposed to just getting on with it. Sentences such as "as we will discuss later" pepper the first third of the book. I'm already reading the thing; I don't need a "coming up after the break!" to keep going; just tell me already.

The few pieces of previously unpublished information we do get are only half-anecdotes (to avoid spilling protected state secrets) or frustrating teases that divulge too little. Here's an example of the latter, from page 178: "People around Trump are also blameworthy. Some among us have too readily accepted the president's offers to start Twitter wars to denigrate critics opposed to the administration's policies, while others actively seek him out and ask Trump to send raw voltage into the news feeds of his followers in order to light up a new cause." There are a dozen questions to be asked about this fascinating passage, but you won't find any of them answered here and, of course, we don't know who to direct them to.

Aside from those three or four sparse paragraphs spread throughout the book, we get a dull recounting of the past three years of journalists' hard work (although there are no citations, which should have been a common sense inclusion). Anonymous tells us that Trump is "misogynistic", a "pathological liar," uses "weaponized language" at his rallies, and "exploits the mob mentality" of social media by "inflaming public debates and dispatching supporters to attack politicians who've criticized him." When even his supporters don't deny any of those things, it all just feels like filler. Here's another scoop: Apparently, the president uses his Twitter account a lot, and it makes life difficult for his administration. And --get this-- Trump once told a reporter he could "grab [women] by the [genitalia]!" You don't say? Tell us more, anonymous insider! The book is chock full of things like this that only waste your precious reading time.

More than any of Trump's personality traits / faults, Anonymous (who claims the Republican party as his or her own) despises the president's well-documented capacity for lying, and makes the convincing argument that Trump's near-constant distortion of the truth is the major reason for the ineffectiveness of his administration and the damage it has arguably caused to international relationships. For someone who relies so heavily on the truth however, there is a fair bit of spin here. According to the author, democrats refuse to work with anyone about anything (despite the hundreds of bills the House has passed that can't make it past the Senate majority leader's desk). Members of congress reportedly can't get anything done because they are constantly "shying away from cooperation and adopting the tone of those who pressure them" on social media. And here, I thought it was the corporate pac money they were taking, but nope - according to Anonymous, it's all Twitter's fault.

"A Warning" is not entirely a waste of time; the best moments of the book come when the author holds up an historical mirror to our current sociopolitical climate (particularly effective is the analogy of Trump to Cleon, an ancient, prominent Athenian). These moments are insightful and thoughtfully presented, and the author draws a clear parallel between the two men. This type of analysis could have given the book merit, but these moments are too few and fleeting.

The last third of the book speaks directly to readers who still support the president. Given its thesis (President Trump is a danger to our democracy and must be replaced), it's difficult to imagine any of them will read that far. Yet, those readers who have decided this administration is not doing the job they want it to are likely familiar with the already well-worn arguments the book presents. Who, then, is it for? I have a thought: Hundreds of years from now, as long as all newspaper, internet, and media archives have been destroyed, "A Warning" will stand as a correlational report of what happened during the reign of this administration. Until and unless that happens, it's a pointless read.
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,761 reviews1,218 followers
December 6, 2019
I’m really glad to be finished with this book. It was not entertaining and it was traumatic reading it even though it didn’t contain a significant amount of new information for me. Reading it was particularly painful for me because not only was I having to immerse myself in all things Trump, someone I have always considered to be a unique threat, but I had to read the author’s opinions throughout and, except for his low estimation of Trump, I doubt I agree with him on much. Engaging in civil discourse is one thing but in this book I had to read the author’s monologue.

The author wrote the book to try to convince United States eligible voters to not reelect Trump. The author does give compelling reasons. I think anyone of any political persuasion would heed the warning if they are willing to read this book.

The biggest pros of this book: It was written by a conservative Republican, if the people who should read this would read it perhaps there might be time to get a viable Republican opponent into the race in time. It might convince many others to vote for the Democrat running against Trump next November, no matter who it is. The quotes from philosophers and historians added interesting context. His direct appeal to all United States eligible voters, so people from all persuasions, and so might get those reluctant to read it to actually read it, that could be a big plus.

The biggest cons: It was published anonymously and the rationale given for that didn’t really work for me. What the heck?! Why is this author (seemingly) and most others in the administration still there instead of doing their duty to the country? The author admits mistakes on his part and by others. It seems the author is trying to help rectify those mistakes, but their apparent continued covert role lessens the argument in my opinion and is reason for many readers & potential readers to not believe what is reported in the book.

Anyone who did their research prior to the 2016 election and continued to keep up with the honest news (me and most I know) will not find much new in here. I already knew the gist. Some very specific details were new to me. What I did learn did nothing to lessen my fear, depression, anger, or bewilderment.

Scary, depressing, infuriating.

I kept having to slow down and not start skimming. It was so unpleasant to read. I started taking notes, many pages, and then decided to stop.

It’s good that this is written by a conservative Republican. I think it’s a negative that it’s published anonymously. It’s a definite negative that the author appears to still be in the administration. I have little respect for her/him (numbers and longevity suggest a him) not resigning for good reason and then testifying and writing it down in this form too.
Sorry for the rather incoherent review. I couldn’t wait to be fully done with this book and get it back to the library. There is a long queue for it and I am glad but am afraid most if not all those waiting to read it are “preaching to the choir” readers.

Some notes I might use if I ever decide to write a longer and more detailed review:

The information in the book is presented clearly and is well organized.


This book was incredibly hard for me to rate.

3 stars because it’s good this information is in this book and because I did learn some minor things. Nothing except some details were new to me though. Anyone who’s educated themselves before they voted in 2016 would already know the gist. The vast majority of the specifics about this President have been reported prior to publication of this book. Some of the details though are truly mindboggling. There wasn’t anything significant new for me or for anyone who’s paid attention and educated themselves. I think the information might be an eye-opener to many though, if they’d believe it. That’s the key.

The author does address all of the above and tries to appeal to readers’ reason and love of country.

1 star if rated for my level of enjoyment of the reading experience which is how I often rate books. I did not enjoy this book. I kept reading because I felt an obligation to learn anything that might be new information for me. I’m not sure what good that would have done. I found reading this book to be an extremely painful, unpleasant reading experience.

4 or 5 stars for presenting information in a useful manner and for the compelling arguments made by the author.

I do recommend the book but the people who most need to read it are not the ones who are likely to read it. Highly recommended for 2020 possible Trump voters, possible third party voters, people who might choose not to vote, anyone who wants to try to work on getting a viable Republican opponent for Trump, anyone in power, college students and high school seniors and juniors, anyone interested in political science and politics and history, anyone who cares about the fate of the United States and the world, and any reader who feels the obligation to be informed, and maybe most of all liberal Democrats tempted to not vote for the 2020 Democratic candidate because they find them lacking. Get this information in the book or somewhere! I believe it’s a good thing that the author of this book and I probably agree on very little except Trump as President and as a man. It’s not coming from a liberal perspective at all. I hope that fact will get the book more readers and will help to make sure that the current President is not reelected. Any reader who’s read this book prior to the next election and votes for Trump will never ever be understood by me or respected by me. Deliberately not reading the book to avoid the information in it? Same thing!

Chapter 1: Collapse of the Steady State
Chapter 2: The Characters of a Man
Chapter 3: Fake Views
Chapter 4: Assault on Democracy
Chapter 5: A Weakness for Strongmen
Chapter 6: The new Mason-Dixon Line
Chapter 7: Apologists
Chapter 8: We the Electorate
10 reviews
November 19, 2019
Extraordinary read

Nothing really new in this book but it is an exceptionally clear and precise summary of all that is wrong with Trump. Hard to believe he was elected and even harder to believe it might happen again in 2020
Profile Image for Mike.
299 reviews139 followers
October 29, 2020

Update, 10/29/20: Anonymous is finally revealed, as...some guy I've never heard of.

Why does this book exist?

...That at any rate was my first question, though it wasn't long before my attention was distracted by a news story. Or at least I think it was a news story. I became aware of it, that is to say, without any agency or conscious wish on my part- presumably through the noosphere, if that's what we're calling it these days. An American couple from Indiana adopted a little girl from Ukraine who turned out not to be a little girl at all, but a 30-year-old dwarf...

...and then she tried to kill them! Aaaaaaah!

What if I'd been friends with that couple, I wondered, and had gone over to meet their adopted daughter? What if we'd been playing on the floor together, she and I, and I'd noticed out of the corner of my eye a decidedly un-childlike expression on her face? What if she'd started to suspect that I suspected? Would I have had the courage to voice my suspicions to the parents, risk their completely understandable displeasure, before the demonic kid- I mean, the adult woman- left a toy block at the top of the stairs for me to step on?

Dazed at the bottom of the stairs, I would hear her approach with a childlike giggle, something in her little hand. How does that Iron Maiden song go again? The fourth track on Powerslave? Oh yes:

You'll die as you lived/
In a flash of the blade...

Her father's a surgeon. What's that in her hand? A scalpel. Aiyeeeeeee...

...And that would be the end of Mike. Tragic, really. His passivity finally cost him his life. Oh well...but in reality I was lying in bed by this point, the audiobook was still playing, and Robert Fass's sententious tones slowly drew me back to serious, sacrosanct, hallowed matters. The presidency of the United States. "Incisive elucidations"..."cherished ideals"..."distancing itself from its friends and courting its enemies"..."calling balls and strikes", the obligatory sports metaphor..."[we are] the level-headed stewards...not the deep state but the steady state"...approving invocation of Henry Kissinger...

...I almost never listen to audiobooks, but I wasn't going to pay $30 for a hardcover copy of this 272-page book (~9 pages/$1), and Audible allowed me to listen if I signed up for a 30-day free trial...which I canceled as soon as I finished listening. Anonymous doesn't read his or her own audiobook, for obvious reasons; instead it's read by someone named Robert Fass, whose aristocratic diction (easily shifting from civic high-mindedness and Reaganesque bromides one minute to haughty contempt, usually when referring to Donald Trump, the next) evoked in my mind an image of an old sanctimonious Republican guy of the George Will variety, which I assume is an accurate enough description of Anonymous, to the point that for long stretches of the book, I found it easy to believe that I was listening to the actual author. There's at least some good humor in the sudden contrasts: Fass will intone in his patrician accent about "...vaunted plazas of open society..." and "...traditional conservative values...", before trying, with exaggerated boorishness, to imitate Donald Trump saying things like (standing in the Oval Office, presumably), "this place is kinda sexy, isn't it?"

But for me to have found this book remotely worthwhile, I think that it would have had to either detail evidence of a serious new crime(s), or look at the Trump presidency in an unusually perceptive way. With regards to the first point, there's very little hard information here beyond a deathly boring recitation of Trump's most egregious public moments (or the moments that Anonymous considers most egregious, anyway), a recitation that you could hear from any cable news pundit. There's so little here in fact that isn't already public knowledge, or easily guessable, that you could almost begin to suspect that there isn't any Anonymous at all, that the New York Times has made the whole thing up. Maybe it's James Patterson. That's crazy talk, I suppose, or at least I think it is, and I suppose that Anonymous was so concerned with remaining anonymous that they carefully avoided describing any specific encounters with the president, or any facts or recollections that only Anonymous could know or have, but this unfortunately makes for an incredibly dull book.

A review I read somewhere before the book's release, maybe in The Guardian, tried to hype it by discussing the "revelation" that Trump had privately mocked the asylum-seekers at the border by imitating a Hispanic accent. Indeed. Well, what am I supposed to say? No no, I can't believe it, not our esteemed president, he would never do a thing like that? Of course he did, he's Trump. Second of all, it's notable that this is the kind of thing that bothers Anonymous the most- not the actual human suffering caused by Trump's policies at the border, but the lack of decorum, the incivility. Do whatever you want, but you've got to look presidential, damn it, like Reagan. Political correctness, in other words.

The book also might have been compelling if Anonymous had engaged seriously with the thought, history or literature of authoritarianism, using their presumably first-hand knowledge of the Trump administration to provoke us, challenge us, or tell us something we don't know. But most of Anonymous's criticisms are superficial, pedantic, and/or obvious. "Normal people who spend any time with Donald J. Trump are made uncomfortable by what they witness", they write; "attempts to get the president to care about fiscal conservatism have mostly failed"; and my personal favorite line in the book, in an unintentionally hilarious chapter on Character, "we can safely say that Trump doesn't meet Cicero's standard for someone who reveres the truth." These are the kinds of searing insights you'll glean for $30.

And the problem is that this book, to justify its existence, needs to make the argument that Trump is such an unprecedented danger to democracy and the rule of law, a Hitler-like (or at least an Erdogan- or Putin-like) figure, that Anonymous has no choice but to subvert the president's worst impulses from within the administration. But Anonymous is actually preoccupied for long stretches of the book with something different- the danger they believe Trump poses to "conservative principles" like small government and slashing the budget, and to "the foreign-policy consensus." Anonymous never considers that Trump's disregard for these things may be one reason that people voted for him. On foreign policy, Anonymous writes, and Fass's voice grows appropriately ominous (appropriate in terms of the author's intention, that is), Trump has "strayed into the wilderness, far from the Republican Party." He meets with Kim Jong-Un...he cozies up (this phrase is everywhere these days, like a virus) to dictators! It won't come as a surprise that I don't give a damn about conservative principles or the foreign-policy consensus, but Anonymous might be wise to notice that not many people outside his or her Washington bubble seem to anymore, either. Maybe most people have finally realized that those principles were always a lie. Trump won crucial victories in states with desiccated economies and high numbers of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans. Maybe these voters don't like seeing their jobs shipped overseas, and maybe they don't like what the venerable foreign-policy establishment's doctrine of endless war has done to them and their families. Trump campaigned on these issues, sincerely or not, but it's beyond Anonymous to reflect on how their party might have helped to create the conditions that made Trump possible. At one point in the chapter on foreign policy, Anonymous clearly if unintentionally illustrates their own blind spot, contrasting Bush's conduct after 9/11 with Trump's dismissal of Russian interference in the 2016 election. "Imagine if Bush had questioned the conclusions of the intelligence agencies", Anonymous implores. "Imagine if Bush had questioned whether we were really attacked by al-Qaeda, had suggested that 'maybe it was someone else.'" Yes Anonymous, exactly...what if Bush had questioned the intelligence agencies, especially a couple of years later, when they claimed that Iraq had WMDs?

I say that the book needs to justify itself because the idea of the book in principle makes me uneasy. I can't help imagining the shoe on the other foot. Let's say for the sake of argument that Bernie Sanders becomes president next year. On the domestic front, he starts pushing for Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal during his first week in office. In foreign policy, he condemns a coup in Bolivia, questions our dependence on Saudi oil, and talks about the rights of Palestinians. Soon enough, an anonymous op-ed appears in the Times or the Post: Bernie is straying into the wilderness, far from the orthodoxy of the Democratic Party (the writer would be able to quote a friend of Obama's succinct dismissal from this past week: "Bernie's not a Democrat"). Normally I would never take a step like this, Anonymous- I mean, the anonymous op-ed writer- might continue, but we, the level-headed stewards, can't allow this dangerous Socialist to create a universal public healthcare system and erase college debt...our donors would never stand for it. Well, he or she wouldn't write that last part, but you get the idea.

I guess that speaks to why Anonymous's book strikes me as so predictable- one elite trying to make common cause with other elites because the proles finally managed to get into power. This impression was only reinforced by the final chapter, where you might hope Anonymous would at least express unequivocal support for any Democratic candidate who ends up running against Trump. You've just written this book, after all, (ostensibly) about what a terrible danger to democracy the man is. But Anonymous's rebellion is so tepid and insincere that they can't even manage that. Anonymous implores the Democrats to use "wisdom and restraint" in choosing their nominee. If, however, the Democrats choose "one of the candidates preaching socialism" (Fass's voice becomes ominous again), by which I assume Anonymous means Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, we may be unable to find "common ground." Trump may offend Anonymous's delicate sensibilities (and part of what's darkly entertaining about this experience is listening to someone like Anonymous continually try not to look into the unvarnished mirror of his or her own avarice, racism and lust for power that Trump represents), but I have a feeling Anonymous will get over that if faced with the prospect of a candidate who has even the slightest interest in resolving economic inequality, getting corporate money out of politics, or fighting climate change. In fact, I predict that, after all this light and noise, if the nominee turns out to be either Sanders or Warren, Anonymous and the "level-headed stewards" will, anonymously or not, support Trump next year, which would be the last laugh on anyone who spent $30-plus-tax on this pedantic, anodyne and ineffectual warning. It seems unlikely, but if through some strange disturbance in the noosphere Anonymous is reading this review, I bet he or she doesn't like that assessment. Good. Prove me wrong, Anonymous.
Profile Image for Tom Quinn.
545 reviews147 followers
January 22, 2020
A tell-all that arrived after all had already been told.

3 stars. DNF for the sake of my blood pressure. I won't dwell on the circumstances surrounding this title here. As books go it is adequately written. It tells what I regard to be facts with a measure of philosophical grandeur. It succinctly explains fundamental Republican and Conservative American principles and recounts the ways Donald Trump does not embody them. I can't imagine it will change anyone's mind, but I can believe writing it eased the author's conscience.
Profile Image for Charlie Hasler.
Author 2 books209 followers
December 9, 2019
I have read 3 books regarding Trumps presidency. I have to say I found this to be certainly the most sobering.

I, like most people, hold my head in despair in the way Trump conducts himself and embarrasses a great nation. A cheap inept gangster bully has hijacked the oval office and in turn made such a respected position, held by so many inspiring individuals, into nothing more than a mental asylum housing a tweeting man baby.

I honestly believe and fear as a British citizen he is no longer just Americas cancer, but a tumour that will keep growing, the shadow of which will consume us all if he is not removed from office, be that via the impeachment process or the 2020 election.

A warning indeed.
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.5k followers
December 30, 2019

Many questions whirled through my mind while I was reading this book, but the one that never left me was: who exactly is “Anonymous” ’ desired audience anyway? This self-styled member of the “steady state”—that small group of insiders determined to keep the U.S. on an even keel despite the erratic behavior of our ill-equipped president—having realized that their three-year’s effort has become a fruitless exercise, now pleads with the people of the nation to defeat Donald Trump at the polls.

So who are these people she pleads with? After all, almost half the country has already decided to vote against Trump, and at least a third—probably more—will vote for him again no matter what. Of the remaining 15 percent still on the fence, how many will be persuaded by a traitorous member of Trump’s inner circle, who even now—at this crucial time of decision—refuses to reveal her identity, to speak out in her own name?

Still, the book has redeeming qualities. The first fifth—the “Introduction” plus “The Collapse of the Steady State”—gives a vivid account of her own gradual—and gradually more fearful—awareness of how damaged and incorrigible Donald J. Trump really is. The next chapter—“The Character of the Man”—although it tells us things about Trump most of us already know—is organized instructively according to Trump’s relationship to the four cardinal virtues—prudence, justice, courage and temperance—and argues persuasively that our president possesses hardly a smidgen of the four.

The other two-thirds of the book—the condemnations of Trump’s faux conservative positions, his attacks on republican institutions, his affection for tyrants, the difficult position of his apologists—are subjects that have been treated before—and better—by the Never-Trumpers (David Frum, Charlie Sykes and Andrew Sullivan come immediately to mind.) Her dismissal of the 25th Amendment and impeachment are sound, yet contain no useful insights, and her final stirring “Epilogue”—in which she compares the American electorate to the passengers on Flight 93 on the morning of September 11th rings hollow coming from someone who still fearfully clings to anonymity, as does her plea to “the leftward-lurching Democratic party” to nominate someone who “campaigns on unity instead of ideological purity.” (My translation: “if you promise not to act like Democrats, maybe—just maybe—we’ll vote for you.” Hmm. Doesn’t sound like a Flight 93 sort of statement to me.)

My advice: read the first third and forget the rest.

Oh, one final note … I call Anonymous “she” because I am convinced the writer is female, and almost certain that she is Kellyanne Conway, with a little assistance from her husband George. Why? Mostly little things. First of all, she uses superlatives in praise of the women of history—like when she refers to the “brilliant” Abigail Adams. Abigail was a smart cookie, no doubt, but I sense something defensive in the size of the praise. Such language would come naturally to a woman who works for a political party that routinely denigrates her sex. Also, there is one instance in which Anonymous writes of a female White House employee, insulted by Trump, who comes to confide in her—something an employee would be more likely to do if “Anonymous” were a woman.

The thing that clinched it for me, though—slender though it may be—is the book’s treatment of Trump and the cardinal virtues. Although the concept stretches all the way back to Plato, the name “cardinal virtues” itself—with which “Anonymous” introduces the discussion—is a traditionally Catholic one, something Kellyanne would have learned in Catholic school, that would have been reinforced at her Catholic college (Trinity Washington University). The treatment itself, however, is based on Cicero. Why the shift from Roman Catholic to Roman? As soon as I asked the question, I immediately—as I am wont to do--imagined how it must have happened. I heard the voice of George Conway: “Your approach here, my dove, is transparently Catholic. You’ll give yourself away. Let me rewrite this section. I can muddy the waters a little with Cicero’s “De Officiis.” George Conway is a Harvard man, after all.
Profile Image for Donald Powell.
559 reviews34 followers
November 27, 2019
If one has paid any attention there is nothing new in this book about President Trump. The best part was the Greek History. The people to need to read this book most likely will not read it. Many of the platitudes and historical references are points well made. The author obviously is either a good researcher, a history buff or both. The conservative bent comes through loud and clear. What most conservatives fail to even consider is that there are some things which are just wrong. Compromising on any of those topics is contrary to their otherwise high minded, laudable propositions. This little book was worth the price and has an honest, decent, important lesson but the glaring contradictions of thought and action cannot warrant a fourth or fifth star.
Profile Image for Christopher Pufall.
34 reviews4 followers
November 20, 2019
Got my copy today and blazed through in one sitting. Fascinating and well-written, and regardless of one's opinion on publishing anonymously like this, it represents a valuable call-to-action and addition to current political and civic discourse, regardless of affiliation.

There are also some laugh-out-loud analogies sprinkled throughout that lucidly illustrate the painful absurdity of the situations and their impacts on governing and on the citizenry.

So much of the book rings true by lining up with what has been observable these past three years (ongoing), particularly given the over-abundance of public tweets, speeches, and actions that corroborate the words, deeds, and "character" of the subject at hand.
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,315 followers
February 1, 2020
You know what, I went into this wanting to be thoughtful and diplomatic and not let my own personal feelings color my review of this testimony on the current administration. I’ve been slowly chipping away at it, reading a chapter or so at a time. There’s just SO much news constantly smacking us in the face that I couldn’t consciously decide to relive those moments again in excruciating detail for much longer than that.

So anyways, down the rabbit hole I went, with my ‘Both Sides!’ shirt on and my reasonable attitude in check, and I tried to do what I’ve been advised to do by many a media personalities over the past couple of years: listen. I tried to listen to the other side, listen to the thought process that went into every choice which led the author, and many like them, to the point where they had to make the big, hard decision to bravely turn coat on their chosen, then elected commander-in-chief. I thought I was maybe getting some semblance of an understanding of the complexities and the position the author found themselves in. I really, truly believed we’d figure this all out...you know, eventually. I’m not happy, you’re not happy, we can fix it together, right?

Then, on January 31, 2020, after the longest month in human history, 51 jackholes gave democracy the middle finger and you know what, fuck all that shit I wrote literally 2 minutes ago. I want to be outraged and horrified, but I’m really just mad at myself and other people peddling the nonsense I was just saying before. Why do we insist on trying to be “rational” or “logical” when there’s one group of people who absolutely refuse to operate in good faith. 75% of all Americans wanted impeachment witnesses, just like 90% want universal background checks for firearms and basically the entire internet begged to keep Net Neutrality—it doesn’t matter what the issue is. When we need someone to step up, they hedge. They look out for themselves, just like their supreme leader taught them.

Maybe this doesn’t seem relevant to this book, beyond subject matter, but it is. I’m so fucking sick of these cash-grab pretender “tell-all’s”. Publishers throw money at them because idiots like me and thousands of others across the country keep reading them because maybe it’ll bring some, I don’t fucking know, ‘clarity’? Is that what I’m after? I just know this rewards cowardice and incentivizes saving-face, without having to actually do anything, with an enormous bag of money. And a book tour. And position as a Political Analyst-Consultant-Whatever-Meghan-McCain’s-Fake-Ass-Job is, because they are now considered reasonable by comparison.

The thing is, the people chasing these deals—Anonymous, John Bolton, the like—have all the worst intentions as Trump, just without the self-destructive impulses. They’re cowards cosplaying as heroes, and I just don’t know why we keep letting it slide.

So I have A Warning for the publishing industry: don’t you fucking dare. I’m done with this, and you need to be to. No more engaging with people who will only offer crucial information for a price. No more watching them when they flash on screen, offering some hot new take on the same behavior they were just fine with six months prior. No more pretending this is normal political discourse. Just because it’s not life or death for you and me doesn’t mean it isn’t for someone else. They let the Kurds die. They let children in detention centers die. They let children in our schools die. For plenty of people, he’s already shot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue. And in response, we bought the book of the guy who loaded the gun.

I’m giving it two stars because I don’t want to be lumped in with the pissed off Trumpers and bots that reflexively hate anything remotely negative about their new God. Also this book clearly written by multiple people; they tell us as much in the prologue when they compare themselves to the authors of the Federalist Papers, who also published anonymously under an alias.
Profile Image for Jill Meyer.
1,170 reviews106 followers
November 19, 2019
The identity of the "Anonymous" who wrote "A Warning", will probably be identified before too long. Certainly, the person who wrote this book, an expose of his time in the Trump White House, is giving away the secrets Trump and his associates would like to keep hidden. Much of what he exposes is scary - Trump's finger is where it definitely shouldn't be.

If you don't like Donald Trump - or are terribly scared of him - you'll like this book. If you like Trump, nothing here will change your vote in November. The book is well-written, but if it wasn't written by "anonymous", it would probably be out there with the Trump-exposure books.
Profile Image for Dan Graser.
Author 4 books102 followers
November 20, 2019
And here it is, the big "scandal" book of year, and for the most part, it lives up to the hype in terms of the depth of examination it brings to the current administration while also at times falling short. It is certainly true that there isn't much genuinely "new" in this book, beyond what all sensible people of every political persuasion understand about the preposterous little man-child we currently have as president and his administration: it's in shambles and that long-dead fish rots from the head.

The author is very aware of the waves of extreme talk on our constitutionally-anointed king joffrey and how it has become quite easy to accept that this is just how politics is currently run and that the constant alarmism of some generates a pervasive apathy among otherwise upstanding citizens:
"The criticism of the Trump administration is so frenzied that ordinary Americans are struggling to discern truth from fiction. There is only so much the public can absorb. When everything is a crisis and a scandal, the end result is that nothing is. Americans are fed up with the cacophony, becoming numb to it."

While many in right wing news media will already be calling this author a traitor, or treasonous, or a member of the deep state, or any other bits of social-media age vocab they learned from our pusillanimous prelate, this author makes it very clear that:
"To be clear, there is no seditious plot inside the administration to undercut the president."

Adding later, contradicting the tone of the previous op-ed from this author last year:
"I was wrong about the quiet resistance inside the Trump administration. Unelected bureaucrats and cabinet appointees were never going to steer Donald Trump the right direction in the long run, or refine his malignant management style. He is who he is. Americans should not take comfort in knowing whether there are so-called adults in the room. We are not bulwarks against the president and shouldn't be counted upon to keep him in check. That is not our job. That is the job of the voters and their elected representatives."

Though that may ring hollow for some or as a disappointment for others, there it is. What this book forms is an insider's argument for the firing of their boss, not as some missive from the resistance. This person then proceeds to evaluate our commander in chief by the standards of the Greek cardinal virtues (wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice) as reformulated by Roman philosopher and orator Cicero a couple hundred years later:
1) Understanding and acknowledging truth.
2) Maintaining good fellowship with men, giving to every one his due, and keeping faith in contracts and promises.
3) Greatness and strength of a lofty and unconquered mind.
4) The order and measure that constitute moderation and temperance.
I know, you likely didn't get past the first one before you either chuckled or raised an eyebrow at the idea of the donald measuring up to any of that (nor would even he think that he is trying to), that is the author's conclusion as well reinforcing the idea of, this is were we are with our democracy, but is this truly what we wish to be?

There are some behind the scenes revelations that have already been discussed among the news networks that received advanced copies so you can peruse those as you like. Having purchased this I cannot imagine that you don't already have some sort of critical view of the president, this book will confirm your worst intuitions and then some. The author is at their most poignant and perspicacious in the epilogue:
"We are getting the presidency and the Congress we deserve. It is not obvious that elected leaders are mimicking our behavior. Their snarky attacks and Twitter jabs sound a lot like the text messages we send, the comments we make below news articles, and the condescending memes we post to Facebook because it's easier to fire rounds from behind a digital wall than has out problems face-to-face. It's no wonder people think Washington is broken. We are broken."

And throughout this review I have hardly kept my opinions on the president a mystery and have engaged in talk that perhaps the author would find counterproductive, perhaps, but then again you work for him, I do not. And you think something can be done about him, I do not.
Profile Image for Wendelle.
1,519 reviews25 followers
November 23, 2019
There's a bit of prevailing hypocritical inconsistency to the motivations of this book. The author claims his/her main reason for penning this book is to 'warn' voters of the 2020 cycle about the real character and temperament of Donald Trump. The author then insists that the voters have to take the initiative and control in the choice and the evaluation of the next President, and that they cannot rely on unelected government officials and bureaucrats to be the 'bulwark' cordoning the President's actions. Yet with the same breath the rather self-righteous, austere author claims that the reason he/she and the rest of the appointees did not hand in their resignation letters during the most serious moral crisis in Trump's presidency-- the Charlottesville white supremacist rally-- is that they have to protect the country from Trump's worst mistakes. Dear author, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot pass the buck to the ordinary voters, then justify staying on and aiding and abetting his government by claiming you can help control his worst impulses and decisions. Which is it- can you actively change things from within or can you not?

Otherwise the content and overall of this book doesn't really deviate from the curation of news insights we already absorb from the available media, if one is an astute news consumer. The only new things from this book (aside from astounding bits here and there like Trump's desire to send non-legal immigrants to Guantanamo Bay) is that it is an internal documentation of the mess and amorality of the Trump government, published before the next election cycle with the hope of changing same-side Trumpers' minds. But let's be honest, the chances this will convince a significant portion of Trump loyalists is measly. And the novelty of it being an internal document, a primary document, from an insider working in Trump's government in real time, loses some of its merit from the choice of anonymity. To be fair, the author explains his choice as an effort to keep from distraction from the message of the book. But the flip side of this choice is that it loses the 'weight' of a book with a real author behind it, who will stand behind his message even if it costs him his position with the Republicans. That move of unmasking and sacrifice would give the words of this book the merit of a second glance from Republicans, that there may be really something 'going on' behind the charade. As it stands, this anonymous book will only reach Democrats, and salve the author's limited conscience that 'he/she did his part' at very limited cost and suitable book profit to himself, and can now pass the buck on to the voters.

The author used Cicero's framework of 'wisdom, courage, temperance and justice' to prospect Trump's moral character, but will he turn the microscope on his own decisions as an anonymous author and Trump government collaborator?
Profile Image for Anne Wilson.
60 reviews
November 24, 2019
Most of the book has anecdotes and demonstrations of President Trump's behavior and personality that was already public and documented; and there wasn't as much insider information about the people within the administration the author refers to as the "Steady State" - working to keep the president in check. That being said, it is a deft analysis, drawing on historical parallels and allegories.
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,989 reviews14 followers
Shelved as 'wish-list'
November 27, 2019

- Tit-Bits (1886)

27th Nov 2019: Anonymous White House official who authored "A Warning" talks anonymity and impeachment in Reddit AMA forum: The anonymous White House official who authored a New York Times op-ed and upcoming book criticizing President Donald Trump and his administration participated in a Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything") forum on Tuesday. Among their statements: "Trump will hear from me, in my own name, before the 2020 election."

7th November: Maddow has an ARC and she read out excerpts on her show. Maybe she should read the audiobook like she narrates as Vesper Fairchild in Batwoman!
Book: Trump recklessness sparked W.H. 'five-alarm fire drills': Rachel Maddow shares some of the first excerpts from the forthcoming book "A Warning" by an anonymous author described as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” describing the challenge of briefing Donald Trump in pictures and sound bites, and the staff panic of trying to prevent damage from Trump's ill-considered decisions.
Profile Image for Onceinabluemoon.
2,560 reviews59 followers
November 19, 2019
A must read for those that value america, nothing new, except the heart break is real, I pray our nation steps up for decency, kindness, intelligence, cohesiveness and a true moral compass.
Profile Image for Maris.
13 reviews
November 23, 2019
Well, that was a sobering read.

On the one hand, it’s difficult to read this and not be frustrated that this anonymous senior official in the Trump administration, who is incredibly intelligent and articulate, did not see the writing on the wall prior to Inauguration Day. On the other hand, it is precisely this point that makes their words carry so much weight. To their credit, they take responsibility for being a Trump Apologist who waited too long to speak out. And there are plenty of reminders throughout the book that this is a very politically conservative Republican author and not just a disgruntled former employee.

There is little to nothing revealed here that anyone paying attention to the news for the last three to four years hasn’t already heard - but there are many stories from 2017-2018 that many may have forgotten about since. As the author states, “when everything is a crisis or a scandal, the end result is that nothing is.” It is indeed hard to keep track of everything from birtherism to paying hush money to porn stars to using a sharpie to extend a hurricane path to Alabama to the refusal to condemn election interference or white nationalism post-Charlottesville or the murder of a journalist at the hands of Saudi Arabia to...the list goes on. I presume there are so few insider anecdotes here for the purpose of protecting both the author’s identity and our national security. And of course there’s no shortage of public material to work with.

That said, the book provides a profound analysis of the man and the culture that has developed inside the White House, and it is nothing short of riveting. At what point will we reclaim our national identity and put country before party, as this author has done? They argue that the time is now and warn that the consequences of a re-election would be detrimental.

This book is an important read for anyone who will be of age to vote in November 2020. What’s concerning is that those who need to read it most are the least likely to, and that is unfortunate.

In sum: “I cannot overstate the consequences of reelecting Donald Trump. I’ve seen the impact of his leadership on our government and country, up close and all too personal. The Trump administration is an unmitigated catastrophe, and the responsibility rests entirely at his feet, the predictable outcome of assigning organizational leadership to a man of weak morals. What is more regrettable is that his faults are amplifying our own. I believe firmly that whatever benefits we may have gained from individual Trump policies are vastly outweighed by the incalculable damage he has done to the fabric of our republic. I cannot yet say who will turn the ship, but four more years of Trump could very well sink it.”
Profile Image for Joanne Clarke Gunter.
272 reviews45 followers
November 22, 2019
Against my better judgment, I read this book. A more appropriate and descriptive title for it could be "Profiles in Thinking About Courage".

The author claims to be a senior White House official and he/she certainly knows a lot about government and the protocol and procedures of a normal government and is fond of quoting Greek, Roman, and American history. But this is no normal government and Donald Trump is no normal president. The entire book discusses the author's first-hand witnessing of the unparalleled ignorance, impulsiveness, recklessness, dishonesty, and general meanness of Donald J. Trump. Trump has little knowledge or curiosity about anything world or government related and often has the attention span and demeanor of a spoiled toddler. But we knew that. Many examples are given, most of which we who follow the news and politics already knew about before this book. The author over and over again discusses the many times that what he calls the people in the "Steady State" have had to cajole, withhold information, and do all that they can to prevent Trump from doing yet another stupid and impulsive thing, sometimes succeeding, sometimes not.

Throughout this book I kept getting angrier and angrier because the author and the other dwindling members of the so-called "Steady State" continue to work for and prop up a clearly unfit and unqualified president knowing that they really have little power to stop his impetuousness. And so it is our country that suffers while they remain silent and anonymous. They are cowards who congratulate themselves for attempting to rein in this president all the while knowing that any day can bring some potential disaster where they cannot.

I can count on one hand the times I have given a 1-star review, but this book deserves it and I am sorry to even have read such a cowardly screed as this book is.
Profile Image for Todd.
109 reviews66 followers
July 11, 2021
This book was pretty solid for what it is and a little better than I expected. It was not groundbreaking or daring by any means, but did add another important voice to the chorus. For anyone not yet familiar, A Warning is the latest in the line of exposes on the Trump Administration, following in the footsteps of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House from Michael Wolff and Fear: Trump in the White House from Bob Woodward. However, A Warning, published anonymously, comes from a "Senior Trump Administration Official."  

It would take courage for Republican elected officials to publicly criticize the current party leaders, even if the party has been taken over by a party outsider such as Donald Trump. While there have been criticisms from retired Republican officials and criticisms from the conservative opinion writers, there have been few voices from the active Republican ranks willing to voice publicly their fundamental criticisms of the Trump Administration, namely McCain, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, Mitt Romney, and Justin Amish. This is no coincidence. Basically all of them except Romney, whose criticisms have been the most muted, have come from politicians on their way out of politics or the Republican party.

Enter to the fray A Warning, by an anonymous author. The author claims that publishing it anonymously avoids the sideshow that would have been created by Trump inevitably attacking the author, as is his wont in regards to critics. However, that argument really does not hold water. The weight that would be gained from putting one's name behind one's words would vastly outweigh the short term distraction and sideshow of ad hominem attacks. There is a caveat, namely, where their anonymity is used to protect their job and remain as the voice of experience and level-headedness. However, from the time of the op-ed to the time of the book, even the author has realized that idea of adults in the room, senior aides tempering Trump's worst habits and inclinations, was a fantasy from the get go.  

The best arguments start with the third chapter and end before the last chapter and the epilogue. In turn, the arguments criticize the dissembling and attacks on truth for political convenience, the undermining of our democratic institutions, the short-sighted international relations fraying old alliances and cozying up to autocrats, the forgoing of sound policy in the nation's long-term interests for stoking his political base, and the creation of an administration of apologists and enablers by purging all officials who would disagree or temper his habits. The thrust of the argument comes across more as criticism than anything else. The argument proceeds more like a boxer trying to beat his opponent on points. This again speaks to the anonymity: the author presumably assumes that one counter-punch by Trump could end in a knockout. It paints the picture of a timid condemnation and ultimately culminates in the author's hopes, and this is their prescribed course of action, that a moderate may unseat Trump in 2020.

What's more, in terms of the book itself and its arguments, some of the arguments adduced against Trump were strange, while others seemed to be thrown using kid gloves. In perhaps one of the weirder chapters in the annals of Trump and the Trump administration, the author devotes the entire second chapter to analyzing Donald Trump in terms of the four cardinal virtues: wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance. It's almost comical in its juxtaposition, but given the gravity of the matter it is entirely anachronistic. Imagine the subject of the Access Hollywood tape, someone who had an affair with the adult film star Stormy Daniels, being analyzed in terms of 'temperance' and virtues. It is a highly inapposite rubric and frankly just silly. The rest of the criticism in the book, while an indictment, needed the kid gloves to come off for the punches to land with their real force against their subject.

This sounds like a good deal of criticism. And there is a lot to criticize. However, the merits come down to the fact that, as a whole, it is a fairly sweeping insider expose written by a political actor. We should keep that in mind. It is topical. It's a fairly sweeping indictment; and it lands its jabs, even if it pulls its power punches and avoids going for knockout blows. And this is from a politician, not a scholar or journalist. So in the last analysis, the weight of the book and the argument that it lands stem in part from the fact that this is from an insider in the administration: this is not a Democrat or liberal voicing these criticisms, it is a conservative voice inside the establishment and current administration.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,729 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.