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A Very Stable Genius

Donald J. Trump's Testing of America
Length: 17 hrs and 22 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (51 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The instant number one best seller

"This taut and terrifying book is among the most closely observed accounts of Donald J. Trump’s shambolic tenure in office to date." (Dwight Garner, The New York Times)

Washington Post national investigative reporter Carol Leonnig and White House bureau chief Philip Rucker, both Pulitzer Prize winners, provide the definitive insider narrative of Donald Trump's unique presidency with shocking new reporting and insight into its implications.

"I alone can fix it." So went Donald J. Trump’s march to the presidency on July 21, 2016, when he accepted the Republican presidential nomination in Cleveland, promising to restore what he described as a fallen nation. Yet over the subsequent years, as he has undertaken the actual work of the commander in chief, it has been hard to see beyond the daily chaos of scandal, investigation, and constant bluster. It would be all too easy to mistake Trump’s first term for one of pure and uninhibited chaos, but there were patterns to his behavior and that of his associates. The universal value of the Trump administration is loyalty - not to the country, but to the president himself - and Trump’s North Star has been the perpetuation of his own power, even when it meant imperiling our shaky and mistrustful democracy. 

Leonnig and Rucker, with deep and unmatched sources throughout Washington, DC, tell of rages and frenzies but also moments of courage and perseverance. Relying on scores of exclusive new interviews with some of the most senior members of the Trump administration and other firsthand witnesses, the authors reveal the 45th president up close, taking listeners inside Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as well as the president’s own haphazard but ultimately successful legal defense. Here, for the first time, certain officials who have felt honor-bound not to publicly criticize a sitting president or to divulge what they witnessed in a position of trust tell the truth for the benefit of history. 

This peerless and gripping narrative reveals President Trump at his most unvarnished and exposes how decision making in his administration has been driven by a reflexive logic of self-preservation and self-aggrandizement - but a logic nonetheless. This is the story of how an unparalleled president has scrambled to survive and tested the strength of America’s democracy and its common heart as a nation. 

©2020 Philip Rucker, Carol Leonnig (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"[Rucker and Leonnig] are meticulous journalists, and this taut and terrifying book is among the most closely observed accounts of Donald J. Trump’s shambolic tenure in office to date.... Their newspaper’s ominous, love-it-or-hate-it motto is ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness.’ A Very Stable Genius flicks the lights on from its first pages." (Dwight Garner, New York Times)

"Richly sourced and highly readable... It is not just another Trump tell-all or third-party confessional. It is unsettling, not salacious." (Lloyd Green, The Guardian)

"Imagine, for a moment, a high-octane courtroom prosecutor summing up for the jury a case built on the vivid testimony of multiple eye-witnesses.... You could scarcely ask for more capable advocates. Leonnig won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the U.S. Secret Service in 2015, then joined Rucker and others on a team awarded the Pulitzer for stories on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Their new, collaborative account...walks readers step by step through the first 30 months or so of a presidency like no other. They leave little doubt that they and many of their sources regard that presidency as an unmitigated and deepening disaster - a threat to American government as we have known it. Whatever may happen to that impeachment effort in the weeks and months ahead, it creates a moment of intermission in the Trump saga and a chance to consider how the landscape has already been altered by this president. A Very Stable Genius offers a harrowing companion narrative to be read during intermission." (Ron Elving, NPR)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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An arch around Trumps whittling down of America’s public institutions

It is concerning to see how easy it is for one person with little insight being able to wreak havoc on democracy with help from outside interests and the sheer cowardice of elected officials to hold him to account. The reader was not a good choice. Suggest having it redone with a more natural speaker. She sound like SIRI at times.

3 people found this helpful

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Computer-generated voice narrator

Well researched and well written. There are details included in this work that are not present in other similar books. The narration is horrible. The voice is stilted and the tone artificial. I’m not sure I can get through it because of this and may have to return it.

3 people found this helpful

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Wish I would have not bought this book!

The narrator is so bad it’s painful to listen to at times ! It can be the best book in the world but if the narrator is bad It runes the audible book! Think I will send this one back and get the WWII Book, narrated by the best narrator in the business Mr. Grover Gardner!

2 people found this helpful

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Good reporting. Too bad about the narrator.

I was looking forward to Rucker and Leonnig's take on the Trump gong show, but whatever flow their writing might have on paper is lost in this stilted, robotic narration by Hillary Huber. Her delivery is choppy and abrupt, and rather than enhancing the authors' work, it creates a frustrating barrier to it. I haven't finished listening yet, but I may just bail on it and pick up the paper copy. Too bad.

2 people found this helpful

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Would be funny if it wasn't true. Sad.

Well presented and narrated the story moves along apace. Insights into the incompetence of the incumbent administration and it's c-in-c highlight what may become (and I sincerely hope so) the death knell for Trumpism.
Falling shortt of the Impeachment process you can see where the story has gone since the last page was written, and reel in horror wirh acquittal, revenge and pardons for my "bff's"
The authors should now consider a serialisation as 2020 elections loom and the lunatic in chief gains further strength. The story does not end here but the authors did a magnificent job to provide those details thus far. They need to be careful though......

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Good for those who doesn't know TRUMP

Well, it was what we already know about TRUMP. Generally, he is an unintellectual, ungracious person that gained power, when America failed his citizens so they acted out. Also, it shows a dangerous and divisive line of thinking that growing inside the US which would disvalue all the good thing.

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A Part Two in the Nightmare We All Call Trump

Stable Genius is a great follow-up to Bob Woodward's book on Trump, FEAR, and between the two, a complete image is painted of the self-conscious, mentally unstable and quite ill-educated brute from Queens who as a rotten apple doesn't fall very far from the Fred Trump tree.

The book gets into the granular moments inside the Trump presidency, frightfully demonstrating how the world is literally on a knife's edge with this guy.

Plainly, the United States, to my knowledge, hasn't had a more ill-equipped human being in the White House, proving that money and corruption and an uneducated public filled with fear is an eternal recipe for disaster in political leadership.

I only hope those who vote for this man-child will see the error in their ways and quietly swing back to reason in November's voting booth, but the question remains: will the people who voted for Trump have the moral courage to read Stable Genius and FEAR, look themselves in the mirror and see the cracks?

Those who voted for Nixon wised up and saw the error. Read Stable Genius, Trumpers, and do the same.

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Insane Story. Voice sounded robotic

Crazy Story and not surprising at all with any of facts. The voice was tough to listen to

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A very good read.

Take a look at what's been going on to bring America to the point of Impeachment.

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"He's a loathsome, offensive misfit"

I was rapt by the sheer inability Trump has when it comes to being a leader. The authors tell the story of a man who just can't learn from his mistakes. Stranger still, he really doesn't want to. I really loved how the authors were able to convey their thesis in simple prose. The narration is really great, too.

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  • sand sand
  • 2020-01-23

Update! Listen at 1.25 speed!! Solves the narration problems!

If you listen at 1.25 speed it sounds totally normal! Not robotic!!! And it’s an amazing accomplishment of journalism!! Get this book !! Just listen at 1.25 speed!!

145 people found this helpful

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  • sdotjo
  • 2020-01-26

Narration critics need to chill!

Obviously, the writing and reporting of this book is superb. These reporters are some of the best out there. I'm writing this as a counterweight to people bagging on the narration. It's not my favorite narration, but it's nowhere near as robotic or jarring as people are freaking out about. She has a somewhat nasal, authoritative, measured, and modulating voice. Not the best, not a crime against humanity, just fine.

That said, I don't understand why Audible won't support more authors reading their own books. As is evident in the prologue Carol Leonnig has one of the smoothest voices out there. I read somewhere that Audible generally dissuades authors from reading their books. That's a poor choice in my view.

30 people found this helpful

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  • geokelley
  • 2020-01-22

This is a well researched book, very shocking

But even more shocking was how terrible the narration. It literally sounded like AI robo-reading the book. Absolutely horrible.

Which is a shame, because this is a book to read if you are on the fence about Trump, and honestly I cant understand how anyone could be on the fence.

But this books documents the psychosis, the lues, the denials and delusions. Read it, dont listen.

58 people found this helpful

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  • DCNow2014
  • 2020-01-21

Fascinating story, but poor narration

I got this book after reading segments in another setting. Brilliantly written, but the narration is not very compelling. The woman reading it--Hillary Huber--sounds like a robot, giving virtually no inflection. It's almost as if Audible is using a simple text-to-speech application. Unfortunate. I'm still in the early stages on the book and hope I'm able to continue. Odd because Ms. Huber does a good job narrating other books.

Be aware--the sample of this book does NOT include the voice of the actual narrator of the book. The book opens with an Authors' Note, read by Carol Leonnig, and a Prologue, read by Philip Rucker, so customers are not able to hear how the reading of the book actually sounds.

176 people found this helpful

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  • Troy
  • 2020-01-25

Great unbiased account of events

A great telling of the facts regarding this presidency. It changed my mind about some key events and gave me a better understanding of the people involved. I think it's hard to tell a political story in this polarized day and age without our own opinions coloring the lens through which we see the events, but these incredible journalists are able to do it.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Bex
  • 2020-01-24

Fascinating story ruined by horrific narration

I am 3 hours into this book and have to concur with the bulk of the reviews below. Like many others, I thought I had stumbled upon a text-to-voice recording rather than a real live narrator. What the heck happened? I have run into my share of poor narrators before but this takes the cake.

Non-fiction can be dry sometimes and it's a challenge to remain engaged on audio unless the narrator brings it to life. A book about Trump rampaging through the last few years should be full of life on its own and made even better by a good narrator. Unfortunately, not the case here.

I will finish it as I am highly interested in a well-researched book on the topic that isn't full of salacious stuff (hi there Michael Wolff) and these writers have devoted time and care to the topic. Do better, Audible. This material deserved it.

** Someone else below noted if you switch it to 1.25x speed, it sounds okay. Will try that. But still. **

20 people found this helpful

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  • Heather Huhman
  • 2020-01-22

Worst Narrator Ever

The reader is terrible. She sounds like a robot and it is very hard to become engaged in the story.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 2020-01-21

Well researched and well presented

A chronology of incidents you may wish you could forget - and that were actually worse than you thought, plus some new revelations.

I haven't finished the book yet - I had been anxiously waiting for it to become available and downloaded it at the crack of dawn. I have listened to the introductions and enough of the chapters to wonder if I can stand to hear the rest (but I know I will). It begins with a brief introduction by Carol Leoning about the methods used in collecting the material, followed by a more lengthy discussion by Philip Rucker which amounts to a summary of the first three years of Trump's presidency.

The book is a journalistic telling of events, not an assessment of the Trump administration, but the events are such that they are in effect an assessment. Leoning and Rucker did hundreds of interviews in order to give intimate accounts of meetings, conversations, and often familiar incidents.

I wish the authors had read the whole book, not just the introductions, but Hillary Huber does a good job of reading it, in my opinion. Although I see some reviewers thought the narration was horrible, it didn't really impress me one way or the other. It certainly would not keep me from listening to the book. Her voice and intonation are clear and her reading is smooth. I looked her up and see that she has narrated many other books and that her ratings are quite positive for those. In a Very Stable Genius her delivery is straightforward, which to me seems appropriate. I definitely did not find it robotic. I am baffled by so much negativity.

I don't usually write a review before I've finished a book, but I believe I've read enough to recommend this book to anyone who wants to be well informed about the reality of the Trump presidency and can stand to hear even more chilling details than were previously available in news sources. If anything about my assessment of the book changes I will come back and let you know.

101 people found this helpful

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  • James L.
  • 2020-01-21

Has to be the worse narration ever on Audible

The narration in this book is horrendous. The female reader sounds like an automated voice box. I’ve never purchased an audio title with narration this unlistenable. My GPS has more personality.

I want my credit back.

59 people found this helpful

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  • Iconoclast81
  • 2020-01-21

Great story, lousy narration

This is the first time I've complained after hundreds of narrators, good, bad and indifferent. I looked forward to the arrival of this well-researched, well-written review of the first three years of the almost unbelievable Trump administration and as soon as I began to listen I wondered whether I had somehow received a computerized text-to-speech version rather than a normal Audible release with a human narrator. The material deserves much better narration, narration that doesn't distract from the content and make listening a chore. I hesitate to leave a review that might discourage listeners from engaging with this material which needs and deserves a wide audience but I think this is a book that needs to be read until Audible can get this re-recorded.

53 people found this helpful