Susan Glasser in The New Yorker:
Every Administration produces a shelf full of memoirs, of the score-settling variety and otherwise. The first known White House chronicle by someone other than a President came from Paul Jennings, an enslaved person whose memoir of President James Madison’s White House was published in 1865. In modern times, Bill Clinton’s two terms gave us Robert Reich’s “Locked in the Cabinet,” perhaps the best recent exposé of that most feckless of Washington jobs, and George Stephanopoulos’s “All Too Human,” a memorable account of a political wunderkind that was honest—too honest, at times, to suit his patron—about what it was really like backstage at the Clinton White House. George W. Bush’s Presidency, with its momentous years of war and terrorism, produced memoirs, many of them quite good, from multiple deputy speechwriters, a deputy national-security adviser, a deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison, and even a deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. President Obama’s White House stenographer wrote a memoir, as did his photographer, his deputy White House chief of staff, his campaign strategists, a deputy national-security adviser, a deputy speechwriter, and even one of the junior press wranglers whose job it was to oversee the White House press pool.
There’s a few golden nuggets to be mined even from the most unreadable, obscure, and self-serving of such memoirs. Even before it ended, the Trump Administration produced a remarkable number of these accounts, as wave after wave of fired press secretaries, ousted Cabinet officials, and disgruntled former aides signed lucrative book deals. There were so many books seeking to explain Trump and his times that the book critic of the Washington Post wrote his own book about all of the books. Trump’s fired executive assistant—ousted because she claimed, at a boozy dinner with reporters, that the President had said nasty things about his daughter Tiffany—wrote a book. Trump’s first two press secretaries wrote books. First Lady Melania Trump’s former best friend wrote a book. Trump’s third national-security adviser, John Bolton, wrote an explosive book with direct-from-the-Situation-Room allegations of Presidential malfeasance that might have turned the tide in Trump’s first impeachment trial had Bolton actually testified in it. And none of those even covered the epic, Presidency-ending year of 2020.
Dozens of books have now been published or are in the works which address the covid pandemic, the 2020 Presidential election, and the violent final days of Trump’s tenure. The history of the Trump Presidency that I am writing with my husband, Peter Baker, of the Times, already has eighty-nine books in its bibliography; many are excellent reported works by journalists, in addition to the first-person recollections, such as they are, by those who worked with and for Trump. This month, Stephanie Grisham became the third former Trump Administration press secretary to publish her account. Grisham, who has the distinction of being the only White House press secretary never to actually hold a press briefing, has written a tell-all that includes such details as the President calling her from Air Force One to discuss his genitalia.