The Room Where It Happened

The Room Where It Happened

A White House Memoir

eBook - 2020
Average Rating:
Rate this:
As President Trump's National Security Advisor, John Bolton spent many of his 453 days in the room where it happened, and the facts speak for themselves.
The result is a White House memoir that is the most comprehensive and substantial account of the Trump Administration, and one of the few to date by a top-level official. With almost daily access to the President, John Bolton has produced a precise rendering of his days in and around the Oval Office. What Bolton saw astonished him: a President for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation. "I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn't driven by reelection calculations," he writes. In fact, he argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump's Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy—and Bolton documents exactly what those were, and attempts by him and others in the Administration to raise alarms about them.

He shows a President addicted to chaos, who embraced our enemies and spurned our friends, and was deeply suspicious of his own government. In Bolton's telling, all this helped put Trump on the bizarre road to impeachment. "The differences between this presidency and previous ones I had served were stunning," writes Bolton, who worked for Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43. He discovered a President who thought foreign policy is like closing a real estate deal—about personal relationships, made-for-TV showmanship, and advancing his own interests. As a result, the US lost an opportunity to confront its deepening threats, and in cases like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea ended up in a more vulnerable place.

Bolton's account starts with his long march to the West Wing as Trump and others woo him for the National Security job. The minute he lands, he has to deal with Syria's chemical attack on the city of Douma, and the crises after that never stop. As he writes in the opening pages, "If you don't like turmoil, uncertainty, and risk—all the while being constantly overwhelmed with information, decisions to be made, and sheer amount of work—and enlivened by international and domestic personality and ego conflicts beyond description, try something else."

The turmoil, conflicts, and egos are all there—from the upheaval in Venezuela, to the erratic and manipulative moves of North Korea's Kim Jong Un, to the showdowns at the G7 summits, the calculated warmongering by Iran, the crazy plan to bring the Taliban to Camp David, and the placating of an authoritarian China that ultimately exposed the world to its lethal lies. But this seasoned public servant also has a great eye for the Washington inside game, and his story is full of wit and wry humor about how he saw it played.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Feb 21, 2021

I thought I would learn Bolton's reasoning behind decisions and actions, understand better what options were on the table, what principles of world relationships, cooperation, problem solving were involved ... but found a writer caught up in the blame game. Just too tired of this rhetoric to continue reading. So very disappointed.

Dec 08, 2020

I read about 50 pages and thought that was enough as I didn't expect the book to improve. It's a shallow, rambling account of events wherein the author strokes his own ego but no one else's.

Dec 05, 2020

I'm not a right wing Republican but I enjoyed John Bolton's book. It is tedious and boring because it's a behind the scenes peak at the inner workings of the Trump Adminsitration. Bolton is a Washington insider with lots of experience. I thought his book well written and a wonderful resource for history students or political science majors. He interacted with Trump daily from April 2018 - Sept. 2019.

Bolton's writing style is clear and easy to read but includes a lot of political details the average person like myself is not familiar with. He also goes into detailed complexities that exist in international dealings. It is interesting but a bit like reading a "how to" manual on tonsillectomies. Yes it can be done but why?

Bolton served in the U.S. Army as a young man i.e. Fort Polk La. This makes him more relatable. At Yale Law he was two years behind Bill and Hilary Clinton. Bolton has a sense of humor but you have to be alert to it. His humor breaks up the tedium of the subject at large. I'm glad I read his book and recommend it to others. If nothing else it will give insight into the difficult dealings the government must contend with.

To deal constructively with the books' volume of pages (500) read a little bit daily. Or single out specific issues you may be interested in. Ukraine, Venezuela, Russia, It's all in the book.

Nov 25, 2020

The Room Where It happened was an interesting book to say the least. It delved deep into all the errors and problems within the Trump Administration and Bolton even talks about how hard it was for him to be Trump’s National Security Advisor. The book had the right idea but just the wrong content. The book was bland and dull when it came to engagement and as many other people pointed out it's nearly impossible to get through the whole book without getting bored ! Bolton adds a lot of rubbish information that adds nothing to the main points that he is trying to bring out. If you are highly educated in the field of politics then this book may suit you but if not then this is not the book for you !

Nov 16, 2020

The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton is the book in which John Bolton tells his story about his tenure as the national security advisor. In each chapter, he covers a different story on topics such as Russia, China, North Korea, and more. My favorite chapter was chapter 11 in which Bolton discussed the talks with North Korea. I am impressed by his ability to show the internal disorder of the administration, the president’s tweeting, how the president’s tweeting affects the administration, and the president’s behavior. However, at some points, I feel that his political beliefs may cloud his depiction of the administration’s actions. I worry whether or not Bolton is a trustable narrator, but I do not feel that he is purposely trying to mislead readers. I think this is a great book for teenagers and adults. It’s very long and is filled with stories that suck you in and fascinate you, but after reading the book you may feel disappointed that this is not fiction.

Nov 13, 2020

Decent book, first hand account of working with Trump from a conservative from the Bush41 era. Bolton's account comes off as genuine and accurate, and in this account Trump comes off as a dip sh*t. I dislike Bolton less than I did before, and I am glad he wrote this account for us to consider.

Nov 02, 2020

Too much Bolton, and not enough new reveal about life in the Trump administration. He should have testified not withheld this information

Oct 29, 2020

I really tried to read this book straight through but it is just not possible! So, I then tried reading it in chunks, but didn't too do well then either. He just starts in the middle of stories and if you know nothing of the area or situation he refers to , you are lost. I really can't recommend this book unless you have maybe a PhD in geography.

Oct 23, 2020

Bolton is almost as pompous and bellicose as Trump himself. Couldn't get past 50 pages it was so boring. Bolton tries to reference some classical and other well known material to make himself look a lot more intelligent than he really is. Can't understand why the library had to buy 10 extra copies. The interest in 'train wreck' Trump will drop off sharply after he loses the election on November 3rd.

Oct 21, 2020

Oh my God. I made several attempts at reading this book, but it was like eating cardboard. A waste of 20 bucks. Although I'm sure that he had a point or two to make, it got lost in his wordings and self admiration. This is a half star rating but cannot change it from the 2 star posted here???? I didn't even select a star rating...just assigned to me.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at MORE

To Top