Book Review: A Higher Loyalty, by James Comey

In response to James Comey’s new book, A Higher Loyalty, Donald Trump took to Twitter to tell us that Comey is a ‘proven leaker & liar’ and ‘a weak and untruthful slime ball’. Now any book that makes POTUS’ tiny hands tremble with rage like that is a book that I want to read


In an interview on The New Yorker Radio Hour, Comey mentioned that it had been his dream to write a book on leadership, which he told his wife about and she, luckily for us all, yawned. Fortunately, he produced an autobiographical masterpiece instead in retaliation to being fired by The Donald.

Because as fate would have it, Trump presidentially told The Washington Post in April 2017 that he had ‘just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,’ which in response to these disparaging remarks Comey presented a wistful world with a visceral ‘fuck you, Trump’ bestselling book. And my, my is this a book that us fanatics of American politics have been waiting for since Trump’s teeny tiny inauguration.

Let’s be honest, too. Contrary to Trump’s tweet below there’s as much Russian interference in Comey’s sacking as there was in the US elections. Putin probably politely informed Trump, while riding bareback with him in his backyard, that ‘if you don’t stop Comey from exposing me as the corrupt weasel I am because of my interference into the US elections then I will release that footage I have of you watching Russian prostitutes piss on the bed that the Obamas once slept in’. To which Trump would have then taken one shaky step at a time down the ladder from his stallion, put his shirt back on, and trembled his way to Twitter to fire the head of the FBI.

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Yet Comey has presented us with a book that doesn’t delve too much into Trump cavorting with the Russians, or the Russians meddling with the elections. This book actually goes beyond being just an autobiography, too. As you will find, Comey’s ego has its own Twitter account and so words of wisdom and leadership advice present themselves in abundance amidst the reminiscence of his life. These wise words can sometimes irritate and come across as slightly self-righteous, and it does feel at times as though this man would have preferred to write the Teo of James Comey over A Higher Loyalty and come out of the closet as a Warren Buffet fanatic.

On many occasion, he reiterates and rewords that ‘good leaders constantly worry about their limited ability to see,’ as well as ‘the tough and kind leader loves her people enough to know they can always improve their game’. Although, I particularly enjoyed this last quote because Comey is blatantly making us aware that he thinks women can be leaders, too. This is a man who wants to be perceived as a man of the people.

Don’t let that little discrepancy put you off, however, because it becomes apparent that he sporadically splashes his wise words into his stories for very good reason, and it’s not because he is a little bit self-righteous. From the off set, Comey inundates us with stories that magnify him as a mere mortal like us; someone who was ‘always being picked on’ for being too tall and wearing trousers that were too small because his parents were poor. In doing so, he comes across as somewhat of a victim and someone who only ever wants to do the right thing.

Comey implicitly makes parallels between good and bad leaders throughout, and exemplifies their traits via his first hand experiences to show us what good and bad looks like. The end result is that the exceptional leader always reigns supreme. It’s just an added bonus that we are given a grand insight into the life of Mr James Comey.

Such as the Ramsay Rapist who held a gun to his head as a child, which is mirrored against the bravery found in Comey’s heroic brother; the bullies at the supermarket he worked at as a teen are degraded by the teachings of his manager Harry; ‘Fat Tony’ and the mobsters are belittled by the powers of the prosecutors whose bravery took them down; and then there is the pain he felt in losing his new born son coinciding with the inspiring strength that he saw in his wife. So you end up questioning what great leader is Comey going to mirror Trump with, because he’s the epitome of questionable leadership and surely Trump has to make an appearance in this book at some point?

Comey merely tantalises our Trump bashing tastebuds until near the very end, and doesn’t explicitly mention him beforehand. This is a technique that is evidently intentional, because in doing so Trump creeps in just when the idyl of the great American leader has been firmly placed at the forefront of our imaginations. So it’s with these great Americans in mind that Trump appears on our pages as offensively as he appeared into our political sphere and the book reaches its finale and Comey rips Trump a new ass hole.

Trump emerges from the great Obama’s shadow at the pinnacle of Comey’s good vs. bad leadership parallels, and Trump is rapidly humiliated story after story to the extent that Trump may well have preferred to wake up and find himself standing naked in front of Putin after another bareback ride around his backyard, as opposed to having Comey’s post-Trump dinner diary entries made public.

Comey rather satisfyingly doesn’t hold back with his Trump bashing. He relishes in the opportunity to get humorous, and he informs us of Trump’s ‘apparent inability to [smile]’ which he believes ‘is rooted in deep insecurity, his inability to be vulnerable or to risk himself by appreciating the humour of others.’ Even better, how Comey ‘extended his hand [and] I made a mental note to check its size. It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so.’ I’ll leave the remaining truths for you to read in the book, because it’s worth the hilarity that lingers inside of you for a few days afterwards.

It is via his diligent construction of Higher Loyalty that Comey has managed to get Trump where it hurts him the most. Leaving Trump until the very end not only symbolises the inferiority of Trump’s place on the loyalty ladder where most of America’s greats are looking down on him, but the very little space that Trump takes up in the world of Comey, too. It must therefore be incredibly satisfying for Comey, whose careful tone of good humour and sarcasm, as well as his insight and political intelligence, has made this book one of the more trusting, entertaining, and captivating reads to fall out of the capitalisation of the mobster who is currently leading the free world.

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