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A Very Stable Genius summary

Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig

Donald J. Trump's Testing of America

3.6 (104 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

A Very Stable Genius by Philip Rucker & Carol Leonnig is a harrowing account of Trump's presidency, examining how his erratic & impulsive behavior, coupled with his propensity for lies & outbursts, have destabilized American democracy.

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    A Very Stable Genius
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    An outburst early on in Trump’s presidency alienated the US military’s top brass. 

    On a scorching day in July 2017, Donald Trump attended a meeting in the Pentagon. It was held in room 2E924, aka “the Tank,” a secure, windowless conference room with a large table at its center. It’s here that America’s senior military leaders – the Joint Chiefs of Staff – meet to discuss confidential issues and grapple with the nation’s security. That day, however, they had a different agenda – educating the new president on America’s strategic priorities. They were in for a shock. 

    The key message here is: an outburst early on in Trump’s presidency alienated the US military’s top brass.  

    Trump had already been in office for five months when he took his seat in the Tank. In that time, officials had realized that the president’s attention span was limited. As they entered the room that day, Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, and Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, knew that explaining foreign policy to Trump was going to be an uphill battle. 

    Desperate to keep the president focused, they had created a short presentation with plenty of graphics, maps, and charts. Over the next 45 minutes, Tillerson and Mattis tried to convince Trump that America’s safety depended on a complex web of overseas commitments, alliances like NATO, and free trade with economic partners.

    Trump wasn’t happy. Not only did he resent being lectured like this, he also objected to Tillerson and Mattis’s internationalist language. 

    NATO, he began, was “worthless.” So-called allies were simply living on America’s dime. “We are owed money,” Trump said, his blood pressure rising, “and you aren’t collecting.” Then there were the troops stationed in the Gulf. “We spent 7 billion,” the president boomed. “Where is the fucking oil?”

    Mattis objected, arguing that the purpose of these alliances and military bases wasn’t profit, but America’s security. Trump wasn’t interested. Why, he now demanded, hadn’t the United States won the war in Afghanistan? The president answered the question himself – because it was a “loser war.” 

    By this point, he was in a rage. What he said next stunned the room. “I wouldn’t go to war with you people,” he screamed, adding that the Joint Chiefs were a “bunch of dopes and babies.” It was a grave insult, and the Tank fell into shocked silence. 

    Later, when the meeting had broken up and Trump had left, Tillerson said what others were thinking. “He’s a fucking moron,” the secretary of state growled, referring to America’s commander-in-chief. 

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    What is A Very Stable Genius about?

    A Very Stable Genius (2020) is the definitive account of Donald Trump’s time in the White House. After three years of silence, dozens of public officials and other first-hand witnesses familiar with the workings of the Trump administration went on record with reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. Their testimony forms the backbone of these blinks, which reveal the forty-fifth president of the United States up close. 

    A Very Stable Genius Review

    A Very Stable Genius (2020) chronicles the tumultuous presidency of Donald Trump and the chaotic inner workings of his administration. Here's what makes this book worth reading:

    • Through in-depth reporting and interviews with key sources, the book offers unparalleled insight into the inner workings of the Trump presidency.
    • It exposes the consequences of Trump's leadership and paints a vivid picture of the challenges faced by those working within his administration.
    • The book sheds light on the troubling state of American politics and prompts readers to reflect on the future of democracy in the United States.

    Best quote from A Very Stable Genius

    So many people in that room had gone to war and risked their lives for their country, and now they were being dressed down by a president who had not. 

    —Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig
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    Who should read A Very Stable Genius?

    • Politics buffs 
    • News junkies looking for the bigger picture 
    • Journalists and reporters

    About the Author

    Carol Leonnig is an investigative reporter at the Washington Post. She has won three Pulitzers for her reporting on misconduct in the Secret Service, Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and government surveillance. She is a regular contributor to NBC News and MSNBC.

    Philip Rucker is the White House Bureau Chief at the Washington Post. He and a team of Post reporters won the 2016 Pulitzer for their reportage of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. Rucker is an on-air political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.

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    A Very Stable Genius FAQs 

    What is the main message of A Very Stable Genius?

    The main message of A Very Stable Genius is a revealing account of the Trump presidency and its chaotic nature.

    How long does it take to read A Very Stable Genius?

    The reading time for A Very Stable Genius varies depending on the reader's pace, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in 15 minutes.

    Is A Very Stable Genius a good book? Is it worth reading?

    A Very Stable Genius is a compelling read that provides valuable insights into the Trump administration. It offers a well-researched and thought-provoking perspective.

    Who is the author of A Very Stable Genius?

    Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig are the authors of A Very Stable Genius.

    What to read after A Very Stable Genius?

    If you're wondering what to read next after A Very Stable Genius, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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