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The Madman Theory

Trump Takes on the World
Narrated by: Jim Sciutto
Length: 8 hrs and 23 mins
4.3 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Summary

From praising dictators to alienating allies, Trump has made chaos his calling card. Has his strategy caused more problems than it has solved?

Richard Nixon tried it first. Hoping to make communist bloc countries uneasy and thus unstable, Nixon let them think he was just crazy enough to nuke them. He called this “the madman theory”. Nearly half a century later, President Trump has employed his own “madman theory”, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not.

Trump praises Kim Jong-un and their “love notes”, admires and flatters Vladimir Putin, and gives a green light to Recep Tayyip Erdogan to invade Syria. Meanwhile, he attacks US institutions and officials, ignores his own advisors, and turns his back on US allies from Canada and Mexico to NATO to Ukraine to the Kurds at war with ISIS. Trump is willing to make the nation’s most sensitive and consequential decisions while often ignoring the best information and intelligence available to him. He continually catches the world off guard, but is it working?

In The Madman Theory, Jim Sciutto shows how Trump's supporters assume he has a strategy for long-term success - that he is somehow playing three-dimensional chess. Now that we are four years into his presidency, we can see his unpredictable focus on short-term headlines has in fact lead to predictably mediocre results in the short and long run.  

Trump’s foreign policy has undermined American values and national security interests, while hurting allies who have been on our side for decades, leaving them isolated and vulnerable without American support. Meanwhile, he comforts and emboldens our enemies. The White House’s revolving door of staff demonstrates that Trump has no real plan; all serious policymakers - and those who would be a check on his most destructive impulses - have been exiled or jumped ship. 

Sciutto has interviewed a wide swath of current and former administration officials to assemble the first comprehensive portrait of the impact of Trump’s erratic foreign policy. Smart, authoritative, and compelling, The Madman Theory is the definitive take on Trump’s calamitous legacy around the globe, showing how his proclivity for chaos is creating a world that is more unstable, violent, and impoverished than it was before. 

©2020 Jim Sciutto (P)2020 HarperAudio

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A recap of a catastrophe

I have read most of the popular books on Trump during his presidential term, mostly out of morbid curiosity and sheer horror. Therefore while reading this book there were no real surprises or revelations. However it does a good job of recapping and refreshing the memory on some of the events of the last three and a half plus years. Probably not essential reading, but important none the less. A passage towards the end of the book however immediately jumped out and stuck with me. This passage is something I have contemplated many times during this presidency, but I have never managed to articulate it as accurately or succinctly as presented here: 'He and his supporters create and accept their own reality. History eventually overwrites even the best propoganda. Until then, his supporters, who make up a large proportion of the country may continue to see successes where there are only partisan mirages.'

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  • Robert A. Raymond
  • 11-08-20

Another look into a dangerous man.

I have many books on Trump, because I am fascinated by the man, and how he is handling being a world leader This time, We are getting a look at the president from a tv news journalist's perspective. Listen to this, and you will get at least an idea of what is going through Trump's head during daily briefings, and you will get insight, I believe, on what kind of a country he thinks we live in.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Maui Diver
  • 15-08-20

Will SCARE THE HELL OUT OF YOU

A must read before the 2020 election. Enormous amount of well structuted information. Brings together multiple well reported events for greater clearity. Gives a balanced view of Trumps presidency.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Marja
  • 20-09-20

all this happened

I have wondered since 2017, how long can this go on. what does America want to become. This is a very important book and easy to listen. Thank you Jim

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  • Carolyn
  • 06-09-20

Fair and Balanced but Revealing

Interesting. Appreciated that tone is not accusatory but solidified my reaction to Trump. Author is very open about his resources.

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  • William R. Todd-Mancillas (Name includes hyphen and camptalized M)
  • 22-08-20

Devastating analysis of 45’s “performance”

Narration: clear and pace is Walter Mitchell-like Content: detailed, well supported analysis of 45’s atrocious, self-serving, cowardly failed stewardship.