This book review appeared on my original blog in 2018. I am reposting it here as/is.
I never watched Donald Trump on television when he was the star of The Apprentice. I distinctly remember hearing about the show, which famously featured Omarosa Manigault Newman during its first season. The year was 2004 and Omarosa, as she is popularly known, was well-known for being extremely ambitious and shrewd. I remember being a member of a certain Web site for second wives and stepmothers and there were a lot of people on the site who watched Omarosa compete. They mostly referred to her as a bitch, which I wouldn’t necessarily condone.
Fast forward twelve years. It’s 2016 and Omarosa, who by that time had also been on a couple of other Trump affiliated shows, is back in the news. Trump is running for president. He had asked Omarosa to serve as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison. Not one to turn down a challenge of such magnitude, Omarosa accepted. For almost a year, she worked in the White House and went from being one of Trump’s fans to one of his biggest foes. Yes, Omarosa is very ambitious, self-serving, shrewd, and manipulative… and she’s just the woman to take on Trump and his criminal gang.
Like I said, I wasn’t one of Omarosa’s fans before I read her book, Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House, which was released in August 2018. Yes, I had heard about her reputation, but I really didn’t know much about her besides that. I never used to read about politics or politicians, but Trump’s comments about what was in Omarosa’s book was enough to make me want to read it. I had real fears that somehow Trump would get the book banned or something.
So I just finished reading the book this afternoon and I decided to review it while the details are fresh in my mind. The first thing I’m going to say about Unhinged is that it’s surprisingly interesting and well written. I don’t see a ghostwriter credited for this book, so I can only assume Ms. Manigault Newman wrote it herself. If that’s the case, I will be among those who offer her congratulations. Not only was it written well, it’s also surprisingly even-handed, especially given Omarosa’s reputation for being a “bitch”. She didn’t completely trash Trump or his minions and freely admits that she was once as big a booster for him as anyone was. She even considered him a friend for a long time and never thought of him as racist or even sexist. She doesn’t apologize for wanting to climb the ladder of success and playing hardball with the “big boys”. But I didn’t get the sense that Omarosa was completely amoral, nor did she come across as extremely bitter.
While working in the White House, Omarosa made some secret recordings of conversations, some of which she released prior to and after she released her book. She claims there are witnesses that can confirm the existence of tapes on which Trump repeatedly drops the n-bomb. Omarosa also claims that she was offered a $15,000 a month job working in Trump’s re-election campaign, after she was unceremoniously fired in the “situation room” at the White House by John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff. She claims the job offer was an attempt to keep her quiet. After she turned down the job, she was sent threatening letters by Trump’s lawyers, again to keep her from speaking out about what she saw and heard in the White House.
I have to admit that Omarosa kind of won me over, despite her reputation for being ruthless. From the get go, she fully admits that a lot of people don’t like her, mainly based on her reputation. She only asks that her readers give her a chance and “hear her out”. She starts at the beginning, describing her very hardscrabble upbringing in Ohio. Both her father and brother were murdered. Her father died when she was just a young girl. She had one failed marriage and another relationship that ended when her betrothed suddenly died of a heart attack. She’s also suffered a miscarriage. Somehow, she’s managed to maintain her faith in a higher power and is now working as a pastor, along with her husband, John Newman. Not that her work as a pastor necessarily means that she’s a decent person, of course. There are plenty of religious types who are actually crooks. But I kind of admire Omarosa’s chutzpah and resilience, even if there’s any truth to the rumors that she’s ruthless.
Naturally, Donald Trump and his minions claim that this book is full of lies. I would expect Trump and his posse to make such claims, though I don’t believe most of what Trump says. He’s a proven liar. I don’t know if Omarosa’s account is entirely truthful, but I will state that I didn’t find it to be outrageously unfair. Regardless, it was surprisingly interesting to read and rather juicy, complete with anecdotes about Trump’s relationships with Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump that will raise eyebrows. I will also say this– while I don’t think Melania is half as accomplished as she claims to be, I do think she despises her husband. Omarosa also thinks so. I expect that once Trump’s stint in Washington, DC is blessedly over, they will be divorcing. I also agree with Omarosa that Mike Pence as president would be worse than Trump as president. I’d really like to flush the whole lot of this administration down the toilet.
Anyway… I rather enjoyed Unhinged. I fully expect that some people will give it low ratings simply because they refuse to see the truth about Trump. I’m guessing that most of those people won’t even bother to read the book– some because they can’t be bothered and some because it’s written at a level higher than they can comprehend. I won’t say Omarosa’s book is completely objective or scholarly, but it is well written, entertaining, and probably more truthful than many people would like to admit. I probably wouldn’t necessarily want to be friends with Omarosa, but I appreciate her book… and I hope it helps change hearts and minds for the better. If I were rating it, I’d give it four stars out of five.
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