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Sunday, July 26, 2020

"The Room Where It Happened" by John Bolton — A Review

John Bolton's book before us is truly a warning for those sitting on the fence over the 2020 election. The text, however, suffers because, apart from the few cases that provoke contemplation or cringe in readers, it lacks a soul. By this I mean one could reduce this book to a series of short op-eds; and the effect would have been greater. To a political science junkie, most of the information is not new, and what little new John Bolton shewed did not warrant a 494-page book. A hideous temptation to skim about one-fifth of the text clouded my mind. Furthermore, I question if Simon & Schuster has any proofreaders among their editorial staff, for many errors prove humiliating. On page 312 the author writes:

"Stunningly, HongKongpeople voted in unprecedented numbers..."

This error is laughable. He meant to say "the Hong Kong people" but the editors did not deduce that. Ironically, this typo could have been their mistake. Please, Jonathan Karp, hire people to proof the works you wish to publish.

But there is one aspect of the book I did like: John Bolton's honesty. He does not dumb down or moderate his views for the sake of accommodating left-wing (or left-leaning) readers. Instead, he chooses to be frank, even if that means alienating a chunk of his audience, for he explicitly tells the world how Trump should handle foreign policy. (Hint: Trump's policy is not realistic—not radical enough.) That—plus the 46 pages of notes, shewing the research he depended upon for many claims, and his insider knowledge—makes him a credible source.

But unless you are someone who loves consuming data about the Trump administration, a political science junkie, or someone on the fence about the 2020 election and not too familiar with contemporary issues, I recommend either getting this via your local library or skipping it altogether.

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