BOOK REVIEW: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

36595101Title: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

Author: Michael Wolff

Book Length (Audiobook): 11 hours 55 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Politics, History

Read Start Date: September 16, 2018

Read Finish Date: September 29, 2018

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads With extraordinary access to the West Wing, Michael Wolff reveals what happened behind-the-scenes in the first nine months of the most controversial presidency of our time in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the country―and the world―has witnessed a stormy, outrageous, and absolutely mesmerizing presidential term that reflects the volatility and fierceness of the man elected Commander-in-Chief.

This riveting and explosive account of Trump’s administration provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office, including:
— What President Trump’s staff really thinks of him
— What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
— Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
— Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn’t be in the same room
— Who is really directing the Trump administration’s strategy in the wake of Bannon’s firing
— What the secret to communicating with Trump is
— What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers

Never before in history has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

My Review: On the night of the election in 2016, I was at the local watering hole in Corpus Christi, Texas, where I was currently living for a work assignment. The Executive Surf Club is a great bar in Corpus Christi, and the guys and I would go every Tuesday for “Pint Night” (a night where a pint of beer was only $2 or $3). On this night, we had particularly gone to watch the election results.  At the beginning of the night, a victory for Hillary seemed assured.

As the night wore on, however, it became more and more obvious (and depressing), that Trump was going to win.  When I woke the next morning to discover that Trump had in fact won,  I was not at all unhappy that my contract had already been signed to move to Austria.  It seemed that I was getting out just in time.

Fire and Fury tells the story of the Trump campaign, painting a picture of a man who was only running for President to lose the race–the ultimate goal of course to become internationally famous and to improve his “brand”–only to find out that “oops” he had in fact won.

The author undoubtedly did not see Donald Trump as an “evil” person, but rather as a ignorant dup who basically had no political agenda (and in fact knew little to nothing about politics, law, or history), and just went with whatever Steve Bannon told him to do.  Basically, the author painted a picture of good (Ivanka and Jared) against evil (Bannon) and Trump, the impatient, childish puppet, caught in the middle.

If you haven’t already read the book, and even if you are a news hound, I would still suggest to read this book.  It was written very well and even surprised me in some places (e.g., how Bannon released the immigration Executive Order on a Friday to purposely cause chaos at airports).

BOOK REVIEW: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

35297297Title: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter

Author: Margareta Magnusson

Book Length (Audiobook): 2 hours 38 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help

Read Start Date: September 15, 2018

Read Finish Date: September 16, 2018

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädningmeaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for you. In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, artist Margareta Magnusson, with Scandinavian humor and wisdom, instructs readers to embrace minimalism. Her radical and joyous method for putting things in order helps families broach sensitive conversations, and makes the process uplifting rather than overwhelming.

Margareta suggests which possessions you can easily get rid of (unworn clothes, unwanted presents, more plates than you’d ever use) and which you might want to keep (photographs, love letters, a few of your children’s art projects). Digging into her late husband’s tool shed, and her own secret drawer of vices, Margareta introduces an element of fun to a potentially daunting task. Along the way readers get a glimpse into her life in Sweden, and also become more comfortable with the idea of letting go.

My Review: Swedish death cleaning is the practice of decluttering your life prior to death. This book tells the story of the authors own death cleaning, as well as some stories from her past.

As I read…listened actually…to this book while hiking in the Austrian mountains (the audiobook takes less then 3 hours), I could not help to think of all the people in my life who have passed away. I could not help but to remember the difficult task of cleaning out my grandparents’ house.

This book, although being primarily about the art of death cleaning itself, is also about life, and the inevitabilty of death. The author offers practical advice for decluttering your life, so that loved ones will not be burdened with the task.

I would recommend this book for people of any age who (like myself) tend to keep far more possessions than necessary.

Hohentauern, Styria

A little more than an hour from Linz is a small village in Styria (Steirmark). During the winter time it is a great place for skiing, but during the rest of the year it is possible to hike up the skiing trails.

It is a wonderful little place for a day hiking trip. There are many trails to chose from for all levels of fitness.

It is also possible to stay for the weekend and there are several hotels in the area. I have personally not stayed in any of these hotels so I cannot make any recommendations.

If you are in the mood for a bite to eat at a cute Austrian restaurant, I would recommend the Passhöhe. Family owned and operated for more than 100 years, this place will not disappoint. However, there are not so many vegetarian or gluten free options as it is very traditional Austrian food.