Michael Wolff:

"Fire and Fury" (2018)

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My first reaction was: "garbage, absolute garbage". A book written by somebody who had no intention of writing facts: he simply wanted to write something that sells. Unfortunately, that is the state of "non-fiction" in the USA: it is fiction, and bad fiction.

I do think that Trump is a crook, a liar, a scumbag and a traitor (see Where we stand with the Trump-Russia investigation and What's in "Vladimir" Trump's tax returns?). But this book is typical of the garbage that literary agents and publishers need in order to sell books.

I have personally experienced the pressure from literary agents who want a book of nonfiction that is actually fiction. When we approached literary agents for our book on Silicon Valley, one told us "I am not interested in facts, only in scandals, and it's irrelevant whether they are true or false". When i approached them for my book on A.I.: "People want to read that A.I, will kill us all, not the truth about its state". When i wrote my 1,000-page book on rock music, literary agents literally laughed: who wants to read a scholarly book on rock music? We only want books that tell how great or how evil the pop stars are, who cares about the music. I look at the New York Times' best-seller list and i roll my eyes: most of those nonfiction books are junk, junk designed to sell a lot of copies, not to tell something useful and certainly not something true.

All you have to do is use your favorite search engine to doublecheck the statements that Wolff makes, statements that any honest publisher would have doublechecked. But this publisher was not interested in doublechecking facts. The rest is Wolff's own imagination of what might have happened and why it might have happened, without a speck of evidence, and in some cases without the names of his sources (which probably don't exist).

One of my books was ranked 50 in a year-end list of China's main business magazine and i went to check the 49 before mine: i am proud that i came 50th because most of those 49 are really good books (originally published in several countries of the world). We got to the point that the Chinese have better books to read than Northamericans.

The US publishing industry is publishing nonfiction books whose purpose is not to inform but to entertain in the most debased fashion, pornography without the sex. What is really sad is that this garbage writer will become rich thanks to this book, and its publisher will be more motivated than ever to publish even more garbage, and even worse garbage. Unfortunately, that seems to be what US readers want.

Wolff's "Burn Rate" (1998) about the "dotcom" bubble was precisely the same kind of garbage, and i don't think it is referenced by anybody anymore despite the bestselling hype of that year. A Wolff book is largely a scientific collection of false anecdotes and fake quotes. Actually, Wolff is to publishing exactly what Trump is to politics: a congenital liar who is indifferent to the truth.

This is not a defense of Trump: he is a liar who is now the victim of the very culture of lies that he has exploited to become president.

A postscript for those who enjoy conspiracy theories. I was a little surprised that Trump spoke out so vehemently against this book. De facto he has publicized this book beyond the wildest dreams of the publisher. Trump did for this book precisely what the media did for Trump during the campaign when they kept attacking him and therefore giving him free advertising on all television stations. Why would Trump publicize a book if he hates it? Maybe he doesn't hate it. Maybe he or someone in his camp has learned from history. If there's one reason why people stopped believing conspiracy theories about the September 2001 terrorist attacks, it's because of Michael Moore's documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" (2004): widely publicized when it came out but then widely discredited as people doublechecked its claims. All other conspiracy theories were discredited because the documentary was. Wolff's book is serving the same purpose to Trump: it will quickly be discredited, and, indirectly, it will end up discrediting all of us who have conducted serious investigations on Trump. Fox News and the other Trump mouthpieces will be able to say "yet another Wolff wannabe" whenever we publish an embarrassing article on Trump. Trump will come out as more credible than ever while all of us who have unearthed Trump's dirty secrets will come out as imitators of this unscrupulous and dishonest Wolff. It's a company that i would rather not keep.