Books

Book Review: Unbelievable - My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur

22 Apr 2018 at 23:20

If you want to read Bridget Jones meets Donald Trump, then this is the book for you. And even if you don’t, it’s for you. It’s a really enjoyable, funny, and mostly insightful book about Donald Trump’s campaign to become President, seen through the eyes of an NBC reporter.

Katy Tur was assigned to the Trump campaign when it wasn’t really a campaign. At the time, she was an NBC correspondent reporting from London. She even had her bijou little flat, and was enjoying life in merry old England very much. She’d even garnered a French boyfriend who was rather unceremoniously dumped when the call came from New York: “We need you back here. Now.”

So back she went, and never really looked back. No one expected Trump to win. Reading between the lines, Katy wondered what she had done to deserve to be assigned to the campaign of a candidate who couldn’t possibly get the nomination. Well, assigned she jolly well was, and she decided she’d better make the best of it.

The book isn’t in chonological form. She flits from the night he won, to episodes on the campaign trail and then back again. But it works. She’s certainly had a good editor, be ause sometimes this way of writing can go seriously wrong.

The joy of the book is her constant encounters with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, commonly known as Donald J Trump. One moment he loves her, the next moment he’s calling her a terrible journalist at a rally. She didn’t sign up to be abused by Trump supporters but that is what happened. At the behest of the candidate. At times she’s horrified by Trump, at times repelled. But there’s a gruding respect too. And it works both ways. In the end he knew she had a job to do and at times he helped her do it. At other times he was just a pain in the ass.

The media’s relationship with Trump is one which has not yet been fully explained, and I think this book actually helped me understand the reporter-candidate dynamic in a way I hadn’t before. Every day there was a real pressure on Tur to deliver a Trump story for the NBC Nightly News. How hard can that be, you may well ask. Well, when the Trump media machine operates in an entirely unpredictable manner and at times would actually obstruct perfectly legitimate stories, you feel a constant empathy towards Tur as she tries, sometimes in vain, to do her job. She also articulates the competitive nature of the job, where she’d do her best to beat CNN or ABC to the interview or story.

Above all this is a very human story, of a reporter trying to do her job and somehow live the semblance of a normal life at the same time. It shows how reporters are entirely at the mercy of their voracious employers for whom the ‘exclusive’ is everything and it shows the toll being a reporter can take on their personal life.

I look forward to reading her next book, given that she is now based in Washington covering the Trump White House.

You can follow Katy Tur on Twitter at @KatyTur.

But her book HERE

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