Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House, by Omarosa Manigault Newman

Seven stars

At a time when political division and mud-slinging is at its height in America, I knew that pulling this book off the shelf may be an issue. Not only for me as a reader—forced to sit through more slanderous accounts of a man who lives for chaos—but also the blowback of some who will discover my current reading choice and eventual review. I left this book to steep for a while, though had a gap in my reading experience and chose to stick a toe out to test the waters of Omarosa Manigault Newman’s personal life with the current POTUS. The author opens her book with a narrative of the day she was fired—read ‘asked to resign’—from the West Wing, for reasons she could not fathom. I’ll leave it to the reader to parse through both accounts to decide for themselves, though something surely does not add up when trying to mesh the Omarosa and General Kelly version of events. From there, the reader is subjected to a snapshot biographical narrative that explores young Omarosa as she made her way from poverty to a number of important decisions that saw her step away from food stamps and into a life of champagne and five-course meals. She worked very hard and had wonderful opportunities throughout, including the chance to meet a few of the ‘loves of her life’ and find solace in God by being ordained. Brief work in the Clinton White House helped shape her political insights, which would be so useful in the years to come. The reader is then sent on a whirlwind tour of Omarosa the reality television star, when she made it as a contestant on Season 1 of The Apprentice, where Donald J. Trump saw her and they created an odd bond. Omarosa explains that she never sold out, sticking true to the woman she always was, which appeared to appeal to Trump. Omarosa defends the man and his arrogance as a sort of business acumen, though hindsight is always more interesting. Trump had always been a political beast, according to Omarosa, until the arrival of Barrack Obama. It was then that Trump exuded hatred for the man who would lead the country for two terms. The narrative offers questions about Trump’s racist nature, particularly towards Obama, but I will leave that to the reader to explore. When politics came knocking, Omarosa was there for Trump, working to build African-American relations for the candidate and campaign as a whole. Omarosa did all she could and, as far as she will admit, admired Trump and his rhetoric. The narrative moves through the campaign, the election, and the transition, all one massive dream, with hints of the nightmare that was to come. When she made it to the White House, Omarosa had high hopes for herself and the country, though was surrounded by so many sycophants that it is hard to see what was real and what was jockeying to stay one person ahead of the knives. Exploring her time in the Trump White House, Omarosa offers not only poignant insider information about events that may not have been released by media outlets, but also her own spin on the actors involved and the fallout used to favourably flavour it. The interested reader will find these chapters of most interest, including her insights into the mental acuity of the Leader of the Free World. I do understand that there will be the eternal defenders who cite it all as sour grapes, but I leave it to the reader to decide for themselves. As the terror continued, it was only a matter of time until Omarosa had to get out, as she could not stand what was playing out. Her departure, as discussed in the book’s introduction, appeared not to jive with what POTUS was told. Then again, when has a story ever been clear and concise with Trump involved? Well written for what it is, the reader can take this book with a grain of salt. It is worth noting, though, that there is a balance found within these pages, which seems to substantiate the narrative more than a smearing tell-all, right?

I’ll be the first to admit, the first I had heard of Omarosa was when she appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in the United States. I never had time for The Apprentice or Trump, whatever he was branding, though his jester-like attitude only added to the turn-off. So, when I chose to read this book, I entered with somewhat of a clean slate, as least when it came to the author. Omarosa offers some interesting insight into her life and how she climbed the ladder to become who she was. Her dedication to a man that offered her praise is interesting, though I will be the first to sit here and ask, ‘When you saw the issues, why did you stay quiet?’. The simple answer to that would be to ensure she remained in the ‘inner circle’, as well as her constant theme of ‘Trump loyalty’. That does leave me wondering how long one must sell one’s beliefs and let others trample on them before it is too much. Omarosa counters that life in the Trump Circle is cult-like, with many still under his influence, while those on the outside are gagged and mocked. The theme throughout this piece is surely ‘I should have done better’ and ‘look at the mess from my perspective’. Both valid points, but it does not serve anyone well to sit here and look back, shaking one’s head and seeking pity. Omarosa made decisions and chose to chum with certain individuals. She readily admits that she sold out and chose to turn away from red flags because power was too intoxicating and she felt a need to protect the man. She sits here, penning this book, and slings mud at many people—who deserve the mess—but there is no way that she comes across as clean in the entire disaster. If the reader is to find nuggets of insider information, they must also see that Omarosa willingly sanctioned their use by not standing up. Is this a book filled with sour grapes, as the West Wingers would have us believe? Perhaps there is a degree of that, but there is also something interesting embedded in these pages. The narrative speaks and substantiates things that were rumoured beforehand about Trump and those closest to him. I asked myself throughout, could these comments be simple lies, spun to make Trump look bad, or is there some truth to all of this? Using the buzzword of the Trump presidency, could a number of people who have since left the ‘tent’ be colluding, or is there some merit to what is being said? Is Trump the ass that he is seen to be and does he have misogynistic and racists tendencies? I suppose I will leave that to the reader, though it would seem a little too far-fetched for me to believe that so many people created a fake narrative and kept building on it for their own pleasure. Is this a stunning tell-all piece that readers will devour and find gobs of wonderful gossip? No, not at all. Is it entertaining and thought-provoking? Not really, but it does offer some interesting water cooler conversation about just how troublesome it is to see sexism, racism, and the intended decline of American greatness embodied in one man and those who chose to turn away and justify it as ‘ok, since I can have a place at the table’. As we await the results of the next four to six years in the American political drama, the reader can ask themselves where they stand and what they can expect. I have been berated by those who say I have no right to say anything, as I am not American. To those people, I remind repeatedly that while they are fine having freedoms removed or be bullied for speaking out, I am pleased to have the right to speak my own mind and formulate my own opinions. Ignorance and arrogant behaviour have their place, but I will never sanction them or feel it is acceptable to berate people for speaking for equality, justice, and basic human rights.

Kudos, Madam Manigault Newman, for the interesting piece. While not a stunner, you did sell the point that power makes good people do stupid things and then seek pity for them. I have to ask… who gave you the idea to offer such an ‘interesting’ accent for POTUS in the audio version of this book?

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons