John Bolton in The Room Where it Happened


When wishing to better understand this time in history, I’m inclined to read the opposition to my way of thinking. This approach does one of several things: bolster my beliefs; challenge my beliefs; or simply give me meat, like beef jerky to chew on.

Today’s historians seem to agree on one thing: nothing like today’s politics and behaviors reveal themselves in past U.S. historical accounts.  This is one element that the landowners (conservative) party and the people’s (liberal) party agree upon. 

Me, nothing more than an observer, felt this coming on in 2016. But, who would take my observations into consideration? And I don’t expect anyone to take my observations into serious conversation. Not to mention that it takes too much wasted energy to make it clear that likely deep doo-doo was ahead. In fact, four years ago I don’t think I could’ve defined exactly how that deep doo-doo would present its stinky self — but it has. 

And all of this wordy preamble to explain why this peace-loving liberal woman was anxious to read a conservative hawk’s White House memoir, “The Room Where it Happened” by John Bolton.

First, I don’t know what I know until I read what I don’t know. Answers are often concealed. However, if I wasn’t halfway through Ronan Farrow’s “The War on Peace—The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence,” when I opened Bolton’s new book, I’m sure that I would’ve had more intake stumbles when it came to Bolton’s tales of working with Mike Pompeo and the State Department.

“I’ve developed a sense of respect for the man’s knowledge and better understand why he wears the feathers of a hawk as opposed to a dove.”

John Bolton has never been one of my favorite characters. We are at philosophical odds. That said, upon reading his new book, I’ve developed a sense of respect for the man’s knowledge and better understand why he wears the feathers of a hawk as opposed to a dove. Like many of the men and women eager to work in this current administration, he was on a mission. He believed, like the others before him, that he could help direct the administration away from the expanding chaos in foreign policy. In other words, too many other political ego-maniacs out there with nukes, or wanting nukes. Not that I’m proud of the U.S. history of nuclear weapons, but I sure as hell have no interest in ideological strong men who live to bring down the U.S. with an arsenal of nuclear weapons in their garages.

This, among other reasons, I recommend Bolton’s book as one to read. 

Is it a fun read? Nope! There are pages of political minutia that would interest only those pursuing a poli-sci graduate degree. Nevertheless, from Bolton’s retelling of this administration’s poorly played romps with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Ukraine’s assorted leaders,  the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Iranian regime, regardless of your ideology, I’d advise you to read Bolton’s recall of those events as he was in The Room Where it Happened.

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