Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey

I'm honestly shocked that some of you haven't figured out my political affiliation by this point since I try to be pretty open about it, but yes, I am a liberal (I mean, I live in SF, for god's sake, LOL). And yes, I like to read left-leaning/political books. Seems like this should be pretty common sense and I don't think I'm particularly inflammatory, but literally every time I pick up a book about politics or feminism, a bunch of people immediately unfriend me, hence the books-that-made-me-lose-friends shelf. (Also YA for some reason, but I think that's because y'all just don't like it when I rip on your favorites. #SorryNotSorry)

So for future reference, I am a Californian, free-trade-coffee-drinking, feminist-thinking, left-leaning, energy-efficient-car-driving, climate-change-believing liberal hipster snowflake.


Now that that's all out of the way, let's talk A HIGHER LOYALTY. I've been on the waitlist for this book at the library forEVER and it finally came into my eager little paws a couple weeks ago. People were hyping this up like it was FIRE AND FURY PT. 2, and I was like, "Ha ha, no, I remember what a bust that was! You cannot fool me again BuzzFeed/pundits/bloggers." My first impression was to side-eye the title because that sounded a bit self-aggrandizing. "A higher loyalty"? To whom? God? (I kid, I kid.) But seriously, this is the dude who definitely contributed to the election sh*t-storm that resulted in Mango Mussolini being our current president, and while I certainly do not blame Comey for single-handedly causing a Republican win (because that would be insanity), I definitely do believe that dropping that email bomb to Congress eleven days before the election was a HUGE mistake - especially since he dropped a "JK, it's no big deal" bomb just a week after that.

So yes, I was side-eying Mr. Comey from the get-go as I picked up this book, but I was willing to be swayed, despite my biases, and hear what he had to say. The first part of the book is actually really amazing, probably four-stars worthy, if I'm being honest. He talks about his involvement in investigating Cosa Nostra (and later on, compares some of Trump's tactics to those that the mafia employed, particularly where loyalty is involved); he mentions the inciting incident that got him interested in being on the right side of the law (a man broke into his house with a gun and terrorized him and his little brother); and he discusses what it was like to work with Rudy Giuliani (bad) and two and a half very different presidents (okay, great, and wtf-I-am-questioning-all-of-life's-choices-right-now, respectively; guess who's who - hint: chronological order).

The part that I really took issue with was the way he discussed how he handled the "email" situation. It felt like an attempt to exonerate himself from a really bad decision of which he was one of the main deciders. I get that my own political affiliation here biases my feelings on the matter, and on some levels I do understand why Comey felt that he had to do what he did, but it was still incredibly bad timing and biased the election in a way that he swore, every moment up to that point, that he did not want to do, because he believed that the FBI and the government should be totally unaffiliated and then did something like that, something that totally embroiled the FBI in all kinds of political mess.

Yeah, I think that was a mistake. I think even people who weren't pro-Hillary could see that.

I'm glad I read this book, and even if Mr. Comey does pat himself on the back a little too much for my liking, I think he's an interesting and fascinating man who is (or at least portrays himself as wanting to be) a genuinely good guy who wants to do the right thing. I still don't quite agree with his decision about the email thing, but seeing him poke fun at Trump and Bush was mildly entertaining, and honestly, he was pretty fair to Bush (lest you brand him a liberal snowflake). Don't read this book if you're expecting a Trump-bashing spree, though, because Mango Mussolini doesn't really appear until the very last part of the book. This is more a career memoir, than anything else.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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