Is Donald Trump a phenomenon

Michael Wolff makes no secret of his methods. His revelatory book "Fire and Fury" begins with an "author's note" in which the 64-year-old describes his research. After Donald Trump's inauguration, he spent several months like a "fly on the wall" in the White House and watched the daily guerrilla warfare. "Many descriptions contradict each other; and some are simply untrue in the typical Trump style," writes Wolff of his conversations. Sometimes he describes the versions of the different camps so that readers can judge for themselves. "Elsewhere, by comparing the descriptions and using trustworthy sources, I have described the scenes as I believe them to be true."

Above all, this sentence indicates what to expect when reading "Fire and Fury", just not a non-fiction book with hundreds of footnotes and dozen pages of appendix to substantiate all citations exactly. This was the case with the standard work "Trump Nation. The Art of Being The Donald" by Timothy O'Brien from 2005 in which the then New York Times-Reporter calculated that Trump could never be a billionaire. Thanks to excellent research, O'Brien won the following lawsuit in which Trump had to admit 30 lies - including about his assets and debts.

Trump pats around angrily in his bathrobe because he cannot operate the light switch

That kind of revelation is absent in Fire and Fury. The work will nevertheless find its place in the canon of those Trump books that are necessary to understand the phenomenon. Wolff does not mention these books, but there is one work he cannot ignore, because it is central to any interpretation of Trump: It is the autobiography "Art of the Deal", published in 1987. Here Trump presents himself as the embodiment of the American dream, which allegedly came to wealth without parental help and only with energy, charisma and ambition. The fact that Trump hardly wrote a line himself and that his ghostwriter Tony Schwartz has accused him since the summer of 2016 of spreading countless lies and losing touch with reality does not bother today's US president.

The worldwide success of "Fire and Fury" can not only be explained by the fact that millions of people despise the US president and want to laugh at him. And also not through the mere round of revelations. There was also that before: Already in February described the New York Timeshow Trump padded angrily through the White House in a bathrobe because he couldn't operate the light switches. Reporters of the Time Magazine Trump proudly displayed his giant TV screens in May, proclaiming, "I prefer not to bother with bad news."

Such anecdotes have been circulating for months, especially in the relevant e-mail newsletters such as "Playbook" from Politico or "Sneak Peek" from Axios. There it was reported on Sunday that Trump's calendar now says "Executive Time" from eight to eleven in the morning - which he spends, however, watching TV, making phone calls and tweeting. "Fire and Fury" develops its strength because Wolff is the first to pack all these rumors that have been circulating for months into one big story. Rowohlt-Verlag has already commissioned six translators, including Dirk van Gunsteren and Werner Schmitz, and will publish the German version on February 19. Readers can be happy because "Fire and Fury" is written in a captivating way and, with the many dialogues, sometimes looks like a script.

Like his friend Trump, Wolff was an integral part of the New York Society and, as the winner of the National Magazine Award, knows how important a convincing narrative is. So two theses run through "Fire and Fury": Trump is unsuitable for the office of president because of his mental instability. And: there is pure chaos around him.

The chaos theory alone proves the existence of the book: Wolff received a "blue badge", a blue house ID that gave him access to all rooms in the White House. This is what reporters dream of, sitting in the cramped briefing room for hours and only receiving a gray access card. And no one in Trump's press team asked what Wolff's project actually was and whether the bald man really had to listen that often - Sean Spicer and his colleagues had been busy defending their boss's lies since they were inaugurated.

It wasn't until Trump fired his chief adviser Stephen Bannon in August that Wolff's privileges ended. It was clear that Trump himself describes economic advisor Gary Cohn on page 186 as an "idiot surrounded by clowns" and that other conservatives criticize this book. Wolff is "a total loser," Trump rages on Twitter and calls him a liar. An accusation that would be easier to counter if Wolff and his US publisher Henry Holt (three fact checkers are mentioned in the afterword) had worked more precisely.