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Book Review: A Higher Loyalty by James B. Comey

April 24, 2018

 

3***

 

As anticipated, A Higher Loyalty is a difficult book to review. In fact, I was in two minds about even reading it, though I am not unhappy that I did. On the one hand, I do feel I know Comey better and that he is, in many ways, a good, stand-up sort of guy (which he reiterates in every conceivable way throughout the book, mind you). He has had his struggles and personal tragedies, and I do think he gives himself a far more human face with this book, when before I knew so little about this man beyond his questionable actions. An aspect I enjoyed, was learning about his family and past and noting the obvious love and admiration he feels for his wife and his family.On the other hand, I finished it feeling frustrated. Despite having a better understanding regarding the difficult decisions he faced, and hearing his uncertainty about how to handle the Clinton investigation, he never seems quite willing to take responsibility for the fallout, even after he makes it very clear how little respect he has for Trump. I struggled with this aspect of the book and his character, as I am sure many other readers will. Comey makes an effort to show he is not partisan, and yet he cannot help offering small barbs against George Bush and complimenting Barack Obama (can't blame him on that front, it's OBAMA!). Yet his insistence that the FBI remained wholly separate from the politics of the president as well as partisanship rung false to me. If you, as the acting Director of the FBI make monumental decisions during a fraught election cycle, you are meddling with politics. He claims, like so many of us, he felt certain Clinton would win either way and was as stunned as anyone when she lost, so I believe him when he says he didn't intend on this outcome. All the same, this is the outcome we got and I feel my liking for this book and my sympathy for Comey waned considerably once I realized he would not be taking any blame, additionally and more puzzling in my opinion, he states he would act precisely as he did if he could do it all again. This seems insane, since he also makes it evident that he thinks Trump s a very dangerous and incompetent person?! I am left feeling baffled and not very satisfied having read this book, but that seems to be my perpetual state these days after I read the news. In the end, I am glad I read it, but am disappointed as well by the cowardice of so many of the people in positions of power, whose ego and ambition rule their actions, not their morals. Comey can say what he will, but it takes courage to admit a mistake, and I think that courage is lacking in him, at least for now.

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