Extraordinarily compelling. Not a bunch of scandal-sheet material, but rather a thoughtful examination of the major national issues which involved the FBI during James Comey’s tenure as chief as well as his prior life – as much as is appropriate.
I had to finish a couple books prior to settling in with this one, but I got it just as soon as I could. It’s good, it’s well-written, it’s personal – everything the hype has said. And it’s not full of scandal-sheet gossip – which is a good thing in my mind. It’s a book about what good leadership is – and isn’t – especially in regards to Comey’s experience, both private and career, and in particular his close connections with three presidents, GW Bush, Barak Obama and Donald Trump.
A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership
by James Comey
2018 / 304 pages
read by James Comey – 9h 4m
rating: 9.5 / current events –
First, Comey reads his own work and although it’s not often a good idea for an author to narrate – it works nicely here.
Okay – I’m a fan already (although not blind) as I think Comey is a man of honor who values his own personal sense of right and wrong more than he does accolades, power, and glory. He tries to do the “right” thing – a bit naively perhaps, with a sense of arrogance perhaps – but he follows his own truth. I’ve felt that way since Obama chose him, a Republican, to stay on as head of the FBI.
Although I’m a fairly liberal and solid Democrat, I have some respect for few of the Republicans I see around, and have little use for a few of the Democrats as well – but no one is completely “good” or “evil.” I even feel somewhat sympathetic toward G.W. Bush these days.
But I didn’t “follow” Comey’s career so a lot of this was a huge refresher on some of the big events which came down in Washington during those years.
The book opens with a life-changing incident which happened to him in his senior year in high school a wee bit of college years and then he skips to his working life – first to pick up a kind of role-model in Wisconsin and then on to the New York offices and the anti-Cosa Nostra and Gambino family cases and then there’s Martha Stewart – hmmm….
Some parts of the book were obviously difficult, painful, for Comey to write, but other parts seemed like they must have been very enjoyable because they’re personal and funny – like when he met GW Bush while hiding his newly bleeding forehead (the result of a run-in with a low ceiling) or using a very mild epithet in the presence of the puritanical John Ashcroft.
That said, there is a lot of serious stuff in the book – Comey worked as US Attorney General for the Southern District of New York and then as US Deputy Attorney General under GW Bush after which he was employed in the private sector for awhile followed by serving as the (Republican) Director of the FBI as appointed by Obama and then under the Republican President Trump, who fired him. He’s kind of non-partisan, but rather looks at other issues and we see the problems through his eyes, his values.
And because that’s been his life, he reviews case after old case from the times of the GW Bush administration with the names of Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney and Karl Rove as well as the John Ashcroft hospital-bed thing and his problems with after 9/11 with Alberto Gonzalez and – um – what was it Condi Rice was doing/not doing? Comey was right there and it makes for fascinating reading. As we have seen for years, Republicans are totally opposed to “obstruction of justice” – by Democrats who are deeply opposed to the “obstruction of justice” by Republicans – and all for the sake of the Republic, of course, ya’ know.
And he explains why he did what he did with the Hillary Clinton email issue – in his mind, it was a matter of “speak or conceal” two weeks before the election and I agree with Chuck Schumer’s comments to Comey, “You were in an impossible situation, John.”
And then, of course, he was fired rather abruptly.
Comey has come to value doing the “right” thing for his country and the people much more highly than being “in” with the bosses. He’s smart and funny and loyal, as the title says, to something greater than any one person or party.
Go read it.