“A short time later, with a serious look on his face, [Trump] said, ‘I need loyalty. I expect loyalty,’” wrote former FBI director James Comey is his new biography, “A Higher Loyalty.”
“A Higher Loyalty” was a bestseller before it was even released, based on the sheer number of preorders, according to CNN. The biography, which documents Comey’s journey through politics from the beginning of his career, also detailed the explosive end to his relationship with President Trump after being fired on May 17, 2017 without warning.
After hearing from multiple news sources about the bombshells in Comey’s new book, I expected the opening pages of the novel to be littered with juicy secrets from the Trump Administration and earth-shattering revelations, however, I was met with a very long and thorough account of Comey’s background. Though this background proved to be interesting, it is worth noting that if you are reading “A Higher Loyalty” for the Trump Era drama, you can skip straight to page 211.
The first 200 pages of Comey’s life detail his prior work experience as a lawyer, the Deputy Attorney General under Bush and FBI director under Obama. Though his experiences and wisdom dispersed throughout are relevant because they build a good sense of Comey’s character and credibility, I grew more impatient with every chapter that passed with no mention of Trump. However, as someone who did not know an overwhelming amount of information about the operations of the FBI or Comey going into this, his detailed descriptions of government and his job were useful to fully understand the drama that followed.
One aspect of “A Higher Loyalty” that left me conflicted was Comey’s use of humor. Through his own personal narratives, it is clear that Comey sought to bring a caring and enjoyable environment to each job he pursued. This is also apparent in the tone that Comey often uses, adding a light-hearted aspect to his very serious experiences. For example, Comey’s description of first meeting President Trump was not the recount I had expected.
“His face appeared slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles… As he extended his hand, I made a mental note to check its size. It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so,” Comey wrote.
It was humor like this that did make the read enjoyable, but also caused me to evaluate Comey’s writing style. Clearly detracting from his real points, Comey’s writing was indeed personable, but often that inhibited the serious message he was trying to get across, especially with regards to President Trump. It seemed at some points that Comey was capitalizing on the popularity he knew would surround his book to implement some more jokes into his writing.
Moreover, Comey’s writing came across as very defensive. Though he did have reason to defend himself, especially with extreme controversy over his decision to disclose an investigation regarding Hillary Clinton only days before the 2016 election, reading his defense quickly became repetitive. Though it was essential that Comey go into detail about his own position and stance on the FBI and their role in the government, especially operating as an independent organization from the White House, this was a point that was often overstressed and came across as justification on his part rather than unbiased explanation. Comey often used vague foreshadowing throughout the first 200 pages as well, which quickly became tiring as I eagerly awaited to hear the bomb-dropping secrets I had expected and been promised from the media.
Once I finally reached the section of “A Higher Loyalty” addressing Comey’s relationship with Trump, I was left satisfied. The detailed examination of their interactions down to the dates and precise conversations almost made up for the somewhat monotonous first section of the novel. Though I won’t reveal all of Comey’s secrets, his account of President Trump’s absurd expectations of him as FBI director, which is an independent entity from the White House, were astonishing.
Overall, Comey’s writing style seemed slightly out of place, and he often over-emphasized his own innocence and justification of his actions. However, he also delivered a seemingly honest account of his interactions with politics over the past decades spanning three presidents, and it was generally entertaining to delve into the political system and the FBI from his perspective and get some dirt on President Trump. If you have even a moderate interest in politics, “A Higher Loyalty” is worth the read, but if you’re an angry liberal looking to prove something about our President, hold off.