John Bolton looks super mad.

John Bolton’s Book Is Getting Dunked on So Hard

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John Bolton’s memoir is set to be released next week, although once again, Donald Trump’s administration is trying to delay or even kill the book entirely. And while I definitely don’t want Trump to be able to stop its release on censorship grounds, I have no personal stake in seeing it because this is a book I will never, ever read–especially since Trump inexplicably waited until after the press had received their copies.

That means we can all choose not to support Trump’s former national security advisor if we wish, but we still get to hear the important bits secondhand while also reveling in the terrible feedback and reviews. And they are terrible.

Back in January, the New York Times ran an excerpt from an unpublished draft of Bolton’s book, which is titled The Room Where It Happened, because Hamilton has become the Harry Potter of politics in that a whole lot of people seem to have an arsenal of exactly one pop culture reference.

In that excerpt, Bolton basically confirmed that Trump was lying in his denials about the Ukrainian scandal that led to his impeachment.

In the full memoir, Bolton goes even further and says there were other potentially impeachable offenses Congress didn’t even get into. Trump was impeached for abuses of power in soliciting the Ukrainian government for assistance in the 2020 election. Bolton said he also did the same thing with the Chinese government. Trump was also impeached for obstruction of justice in the investigation into that abuse of power. Bolton says Trump tried to curry favor with so many dictators, he held “obstruction of justice as a way of life.”

You know where all of this information would have been really useful? At the impeachment hearings. Not in a goddamn book.

But Bolton refused to testify in the House inquiry. He said he would testify if the Republican-majority Senate subpoenaed him, which, predictably, they did not.

Yet in his book, according to the New York Times, Bolton has the nerve to criticize the House for moving too quickly to settle on articles of impeachment, thereby missing what he saw as other impeachable offenses. Which sounds like something he could have told House Democrats if he’d agreed to testify when they asked. Instead, he justifies his inaction by saying it wouldn’t have had any impact on the Senate trial which is obviously true, that was always going to be rigged. That excuse is still just, as the Times‘ Jennifer Szalai puts it, “self-righteous and self-serving sort of fatalism.”

No one seems to have any patience for Bolton’s choice to put all his information and opinions in a book instead of an impeachment hearing.

Lin clearly isn’t too happy about that title, either.

Even the ACLU, after tweeting condemnation of Trump’s desire to silence Bolton, made it clear they’re not on Team Bolton here.

Bolton retweeted the ACLU’s reaction to the Trump administration’s attempts at censorship:

But I don’t think this ended up going how he’d planned.

On top of all of this, Bolton’s book is reportedly terribly written. Just an absolute mess.

“Bolton, who refused to testify at the House impeachment hearings, may be the last person many Americans wish to hear from right now — not that he would ever deign to make any concessions to what a reader might want,” writes Szalai. “‘The Room Where It Happened,’ an account of his 17 months as Trump’s national security adviser, has been written with so little discernible attention to style and narrative form that he apparently presumes an audience that is hanging on his every word.”

The Times also writes, “The book is bloated with self-importance, even though what it mostly recounts is Bolton not being able to accomplish very much. It toggles between two discordant registers: exceedingly tedious and slightly unhinged.”

NPR says that Bolton’s “ego is intellectual, even academic. He clearly does not expect to attract the casual reader, or anyone else unable to digest sentences such as this one on the third page: ‘Constant personnel turnover obviously didn’t help, nor did the White House’s Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes (“war of all against all”).'”

From Washington Post, which says Bolton’s “self-satisfaction becomes annoying”:

Bolton is the hero of nearly every anecdote in the book. Indeed, for a memoir that is startlingly candid about many things, Bolton’s utter lack of self-criticism is one of the book’s significant shortcomings. Nearly every policy discussion is an opportunity for Bolton to say that he was right, people should have listened to him, he knew it would never work, he was vindicated. His only problem is that, having burned so many bridges with this book, Fox News may not give him a future platform to explain how right he is.

I very much look forward to never reading this book.

(image: Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.