Alice O’Keeffe, Books Editor at The Bookseller, said: “Our shortlists this year took the judges from Georgian London to the Second World War to contemporary New York. There are books from exciting fresh voices at the very start of their career, contrasted with books from with well-established brand authors at the top of their game. These are the books that sum up 2018 but which, we think, will be read for years to come.”
A lot of books about politics are so dense and serious that they can only be tackled with the aid of a wet towel wrapped around the head. Not this one.... Fire and Fury is lively, gossipy, became one of the talking points of the year, and its allegations (including the suggestion that White House staff think Donald Trump is “a hopeless idiot”, that he eats McDonald’s to avoid being poisoned, that he strips his own bed for security reasons, and tries to seduce his best friends’ wives) drove the president into a rage. What author could ask for more?
It sometimes seems as though a new Donald Trump book is being published every week, but we ought not to forget the pioneering Michael Wolff, whose Fire and Fury (Little, Brown, £20) was the first to give a frighteningly vivid picture of the leader of the free world — ‘twinkle in his eye, larceny in his soul’: an ignorant inattentive hoodlum who likes to spend his evenings watching three TV screens at once while guzzling cheese-burgers. Though published this year, Wolff’s masterpiece now reads like ancient history, with many of the pieces swept from the board,
Fire and Fury also gives the lowdown on the lacquered trompe-l’oeil that is Trump’s hairdo, with those tinted tendrils combed over a cranium that is totally bald and resonantly empty. But beyond such acts of exposure, what makes the book significant is its sly, hilarious portrait of a hollow man, into the black hole of whose needy, greedy ego the whole world has virtually vanished. Wolff deplores Trump, explains the conditions that made him possible, and accuses us all of colluding in this madness.
But there’s a further twist. As well as being more entertaining than any political book has a right to be, and more terrifying than any horror film, it is also deeply unfair and often obviously inaccurate. Yes, the perfect book for the Trump presidency. Read it with your jaw dropping by all means, but raise your eyebrows as well: Wolff is a brilliant writer with the keenest of noses for news. But he has long been accused of making stuff up.