Bob Woodward’s third book in Trump trilogy to cover handling of pandemic

Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s third book about Donald Trump will be called Peril, completing a trilogy begun with Fear and Rage. According to its publisher, it will also include sections on the first months of Joe Biden’s presidency.

Woodward rose to fame in the early 1970s, working with Carl Bernstein to uncover the Watergate scandal which brought down Richard Nixon. Peril is another co-production, this time with Robert Costa, also on staff at the Post.

Announcing the title of the new book, which will be published on 21 September, Simon & Schuster said it would “reveal for the first time” how Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and other issues represented “far more than just a domestic political crisis”.

The authors of a rash of other Trump books which came out this summer and dominated bestseller lists may disagree with that judgment – not least the Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, who also co-wrote a hit, I Alone Can Fix It – but Woodward is undoubtedly a heavyweight in the field.

His new book with Costa, Simon & Schuster said, is based on more than 200 interviews as well as diaries, secret orders, phone call transcripts, emails and other government records, all producing “a spellbinding and definitive portrait of a nation on the brink”.

“This classic study of Washington takes readers deep inside the Trump White House, the Biden White House, the 2020 presidential campaign and the Pentagon and Congress with vivid, eyewitness accounts of what really happened.”

The current crop of Trump books, also including Frankly, We Did Win This Election by Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal and Landslide, Michael Wolff’s third Trump exposé, have sold strongly but not as well as the first crop which Wolff kicked off with Fire and Fury in January 2018.

Many reviewers have said the second wave of Trump books failed to include much that was not already known.

In his last Trump outing, Rage, Woodward scored a huge coup with tape recordings of Trump admitting he had played down the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak. The reporter was criticised in some quarters for keeping such knowledge for his book, which appeared when nearly 200,000 in the US had died.

Woodward said then he had needed time to check if Trump’s claims were true.

“I’ve been a reporter almost 50 years and I never had an experience like this,” he told the Guardian, discussing his calls with the president.

“I call [Trump] the night prowler. I think it’s true. He doesn’t drink. He has this kind of savage energy and it comes through in some of the recordings I’ve released. It comes through in his rallies.

“So for me, it’s a window into his mind. It’s much like, as somebody said, the Nixon tapes where you see what he’s actually thinking and doing.”

Woodward also said he “gave [Trump] the truth. I said, ‘Look, the book’s going to be tough. There’s going to be judgments you’re not going to like.’

“And we turned to the virus and I said the election’s about the virus and your handling of it. He said, ‘You really think so?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘What about the economy?’ I said, ‘Well, they’re related, as you know,’ and he said, ‘A little bit.’ In astonishment, I said, ‘A little bit?’ He said, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, they’re related.’

“And then at the end of that conversation, he said, ‘Well, it looks like I didn’t get you on this book. I’ll get you on the next.’”

Regarding Woodward and Costa’s reporting on Biden, Simon & Schuster said they would provide “the first inside look at Biden’s presidency as he faces the challenges of a lifetime: the continuing deadly pandemic and millions of Americans facing soul-crushing economic pain, all the while navigating a bitter and disabling partisan divide, a world rife with threats, and the hovering, dark shadow of the former president”.

On Monday, Washington was consumed by debate over the swift fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban after Biden went through with the withdrawal of US troops. Trump, who negotiated with the Taliban and ordered the withdrawal, fired off statements seeking to ensure his successor took the blame.

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