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A Very Stable Genius

Donald J. Trump's Testing of America
Length: 17 hrs and 2 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (112 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 listeners say about A Very Stable Genius

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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

9 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!

6 people found this helpful

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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.

6 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.

6 people found this helpful

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Just awful narration by Hillary Huber

Fairly good but nothing new, heard it all before. The narration actually made me want to stop listening. This has only happened a couple of times before with Audible but this was the worst yet. Thought at first it was a machine. Dreadful.

3 people found this helpful

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Great Review/Fact Checked

Shows us what we already knew but in a detailed version. The man is evil.

2 people found this helpful

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The narrator sounds like a computer generated voice...

How weird is that? The book itself is great (I’m very fond of these journalists’s writing). I got it to have company in the car. But I have to say that I’m thinking of tossing it for the printed version. It’s hard to tell but I think that Hillary Huber is the reader. OMG, at first I thought that the narration was computer generated. Now, I fully realise that they didn’t want someone who would read it in an over-the-top way but this has gone way to far in the other direction. Carol and Philip’s bit was fine; I can only wish that they had done the whole thing.

1 person found this helpful

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Hard to take

Had to put it aside for long stretches because it just left me feeling angry, hopeless and seriously shook up any belief in a ‘just world’.

1 person found this helpful

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Gloriously Interesting and Well-Presented

The most compelling book about the current US administration that I am aware of. My only complaint is that it didnt keep going. I can only hope for a follow-up sometime in the future.

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God bless America0

sometimes mechanical, but a good retelling of events. I purchased in hopes od getting an opposing perspective - it validated all of my concerns about this presidency.

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  • Lauralee D
  • 2020-02-02

As I listened to the Epilogue I cried

As I listened to the Epilogue I cried, because last night, Friday January 31, 2020, the Senate voted 51 to 49 to not hear ANY witnesses nor evidence in the impeachment trial against Donald J Trump, and Cheif Justice Roberts said he did not feel it was appropriate for the Judicial Branch to intervene. They are set to vote to dismiss the charges next Wednesday, following party lines. Several Republican senators stated that they knew what he did was criminal, but did not think it was in the best interest of the country to remove him. Defense attorney Allen D. provided the legal argument in defense of the president that obstensively gives the office of the president unfettered power. The disgraceful performance of 51 elected officials that care more about retaining their own careers than upholding their constitutional oath is exactly what our founding fathers were afraid of happening one day. #TheDayDemocracyDied I hope and pray you are writing a follow up book to chronologically document the rest of his presidency that will, God willing, end within the next year through an outcry from the public and and outpouring to the polls. Those 51 Senators also need to be removed from office on their next election date.

67 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-01-31

Left wing bias showing

Didn’t realize it was a left wing hit piece. I’ll pass on this nonsense that we can get on CNN every night.

62 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.

53 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.

98 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.

234 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah Jaffe
  • 2020-01-27

The Dictator Part II

The introduction of Trump’s reign was well presaged in Bob Woodward’s “Fear.” “A Very Stable Genious” is the perfect sequel, weaving the constellation of Trump’s webs into a clear chronologic overview. For those of us from old American independently minded families, the acts of Mr. Trump are treasonous. The thorough, documented, and clear reporting by the authors is commendable. No one is above the law, nor can our Constitution be subverted.

32 people found this helpful

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  • Geraldine G.
  • 2020-01-23

Demon in the White House

He's worse than we could ever imagine...too bad none of his supporters will read this book!

31 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 2020-01-25

Thorough

This was a great book. It was non-partisan, fair and thorough. I recommend this book to those who insist on blindly following this president. This book sheds light on what potential disasters await this country if he is re-elected.

21 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Aurianna Reigh
  • 2020-01-23

An eye opener!

A chronological, factual telling of Trumps chaotic actions, paranoid ideologies and spastic blunders. Bravo to the writers.

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. 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 were critical of the narration, 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 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.

121 people found this helpful

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  • Magdalena
  • 2020-10-07

We've heard it before.

No new insights or shocking revelations. DJT is a monster and a sociopath. The US is a banana republic. All true. All sad.