The way famed author and journalist Bob Woodward tells it, the title of his latest book, Fear, a behind-the-scenes look at President Donald Trump’s White House, came from a March 2016 interview with the part-time Palm Beach billionaire when he was a presidential candidate.
“The title comes from Trump himself,” said Woodward, who became a journalism legend, along with Carl Bernstein, for their investigative stories on the Nixon Watergate scandal for the Washington Post. “It is from him, a description on how to use power. Scare the hell out of people.”
Woodward will speak about the best-seller, which last month became the latest tell-all book to rock the Trump administration, on Monday night at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts. His talk, including a question-and-answer session, begins at 7 p.m.
Woodward’s 357-page book is a riveting account of the rivalries and raging disputes in the Trump White House. After Fear hit bookshelves in September, the book was immediately criticized by Trump, who tweeted that Fear was full of “many lies and phony sources.” It also was criticized by Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis, among others in the Trump political orbit.
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However, in Fear, Woodward reconstructs entire conversations among administration officials, many of which point to the same kind of dysfunction depicted in previous books that have come out this year, including Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury.
A number of key instances in the book take place during Trump’s high-profile visits to his Southern White House, Mar-a-Lago. The president’s private Palm Beach club is the scene for both high stakes drama and light-hearted anecdotes.
In particular, it was during a stay at Mar-a-Lago in April 2017 that Trump gathered his national security team and ordered the launch of a 60-missile attack on Syria in retaliation for a sarin gas attack on rebels and civilians in that war-torn county. That was the most serious military engagement — so far — in his presidency. But it’s also at Mar-a-Lago where gruff White House political strategist Steve Bannon tells Trump to lighten up by going to play “some slap and tickle” with First Lady Melania Trump.
Despite the pushback from Trump world, Woodward insists Fear is even-handed and balanced in its portrayal of the Trump presidency.
“My findings are those of a reporter. There is no partisan angle on this,” he said. “I think you see on the range of issues, foreign policy and economic policy, that he is taking a gamble.”
For the Coral Springs center, booking Woodward is a “coup,” said General manager Bill Haggett. He noted Woodward, who has won two Pulitzer Prizes and has authored 18 books, is the type of public figure that usually is scheduled at better known locations, like the Broward Center for the Arts.
“I really thought it would be a coup for our small theater,” said Haggett. “Pulitzer Prize-winning authors usually go to the Broward center.”
But, would booking Woodward and a book that’s been criticized by conservative audiences put the center in a political vortex? Haggett said it would not.
“We’re non-partisan,” said Hagget. “If it’s something the community wants to see, we’ll bring it here. In the case of Bob Woodward, he is an accomplished author.”
Haggett points out that almost two years ago, the center booked performer Jackie Evancho after she lost concert dates because she agreed to sing at President Trump’s inauguration.
Besides, Haggett added, there will be a question-and-answer session. Those who may disagree with Woodward’s conclusions will “be able to ask the hard questions,” he said.
Plus, the proof has been in the community’s response. The Woodward appearance has already sold enough tickets to justify holding his talk in the Coral Springs center’s largest auditorium, which seats 1,500 people.
Woodward said the issue is not political sides and allegiances, but an informed population and electorate.
“The premise of our business is that people should know what’s going (on),” he said.
If you go …
“An Evening with Bob Woodward” will take place on Monday night, Oct. 15, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. It will be at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts at 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, Fla., 33065. Ticket prices range from $41.87 to $94.87.