Peril - book cover
Leaders & Notable People
  • Publisher : Simon & Schuster
  • Published : 21 Sep 2021
  • Pages : 512
  • ISBN-10 : 1982182911
  • ISBN-13 : 9781982182915
  • Language : English


The transition from President Donald J. Trump to President Joseph R. Biden Jr. stands as one of the most dangerous periods in American history.

But as # 1 internationally bestselling author Bob Woodward and acclaimed reporter Robert Costa reveal for the first time, it was far more than just a domestic political crisis.

Woodward and Costa interviewed more than 200 people at the center of the turmoil, resulting in more than 6,000 pages of transcripts—and a spellbinding and definitive portrait of a nation on the brink.

This classic study of Washington takes readers deep inside the Trump White House, the Biden White House, the 2020 campaign, and the Pentagon and Congress, with vivid, eyewitness accounts of what really happened.

Peril is supplemented throughout with never-before-seen material from secret orders, transcripts of confidential calls, diaries, emails, meeting notes and other personal and government records, making for an unparalleled history.

It is also the first inside look at Biden’s presidency as he faces the challenges of a lifetime: the continuing deadly pandemic and millions of Americans facing soul-crushing economic pain, all the while navigating a bitter and disabling partisan divide, a world rife with threats, and the hovering, dark shadow of the former president.

“We have much to do in this winter of peril,” Biden declared at his inauguration, an event marked by a nerve-wracking security alert and the threat of domestic terrorism.

Peril is the extraordinary story of the end of one presidency and the beginning of another, and represents the culmination of Bob Woodward’s news-making trilogy on the Trump presidency, along with Fear and Rage. And it is the beginning of a collaboration with fellow Washington Post reporter Robert Costa that will remind readers of Woodward’s coverage, with Carl Bernstein, of President Richard M. Nixon’s final days.

Editorial Reviews

"The thing that is so bracing and nerve-wracking and important about this new book is what it reveals about how much worse it was than we knew, how much closer we came to real disaster than we have known before now." - Rachel Maddow, MSNBC

"The book details how Mr. Trump's presidency essentially collapsed in his final months in office, particularly after his election loss and the start of his campaign to deny the results." - Michael S. Schmidt, The New York Times

"We know that the period between the election and the inauguration was a time of great domestic turmoil. And what Peril does is it shows that this was also a grave national security crisis." - Isaac Stanley-Becker, NPR

"Explosive new details about former President Donald Trump's actions around last year's election and the January insurrection." - PBS

"Woodward and Costa got an exclusive transcript of the call. Pelosi has the same concerns that Milley does. The phone call is dramatic. It's blunt. And Pelosi wants Milley to reassure her that the nuclear weapons are safe." - Jamie Gangel, CNN

"Excerpts of the Woodward/Costa book in The Washington Post and CNN make the Trump administration's operations in January 2021 sound like a bewildering blend of King Lear, The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire, Dr. Strangelove and Veep." - Olivier Knox, The Washington Post

"A cliffhanger . . . Like an installment of a deathless Marvel franchise, for all its spectacle Peril ends with a dismaying sense of prologue." – John WilliamsThe New York Times

"The clear theme of Peril is not a rehash or account of what transpired over the past year or so. It is a waving red flag designed to warn the electorate and chattering class that this story is far from over."-Mediate

"The explosive new book....that rocked Washington and the world with its've done it again."-George Stephanopolous, ABC

"An amazing, intense, and very troubling read . . . A book that is historical and also a caution - a warning about the future. . . It's a fantastic book."-Jake Tapper, CNN

"A Bob Woodward book is like a large Christmas tree with dozens and dozens and dozens of unique ornaments that you've never seen before, news media headlines immediately focused on the biggest and most important ornaments on that tree, and we all eagerly read those first news reports about a Bob Woodward book. But the reason to read the book, the reason to order this book tonight or get it at your bookstore tomorrow is to see how the whole story fits ...

Readers Top Reviews

A lot of the events in the book have been written elsewhere. However there are little additions and quotes from the Trump administration that make most reasonable people even more aware of just what a disaster Trump was. Hearing how his closest team, and even his family, distanced themselves from him whilst "the crazies" like Powell and Guliani filled the gap makes astounding, and concerning read. How people supported, and still support Trump I have no idea.
The Notes indicate that this book is the result of hundreds of hours of interviews with over 200 firsthand witnesses. The book is divided into 72 chapters, and a total of about 418 pages, not including the Notes section. There are 29 pictures of various political and military figures at the end of the book, with captions describing certain events that they were each involved in. The Prologue starts with the perspective of General Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his conversations with Chinese military personnel during the events of Jan 6th 2021 at the Capitol. Milley reassures China of America's stability, and makes sure the rest of his chain of command is aware of the nuclear weapons protocols, reminding them that he needs to be involved in any proposed military strike. Over the next several chapters, the authors describe many behind-the-scenes events and conversations from dozens of political and military leaders. This includes Paul Ryan's conversations with Trump, Biden's family issues, Mitch McConnell's suggestions to Trump about the Court, Mueller's report, Anita Dunn's advice to Biden, Biden's close friend Mike Donilon and his input, James Clyburn's perspectives, thoughts from the Sanders campaign staff, Robert O'Brien's advice to Trump about Covid, and more. The next few chapters offer more windows into the interactions between major political figures. The authors cover Bill Barr's pleas to Trump, Trump's initial response to Covid, Gen. Milley's thoughts about Trump's speech-writer Stephen Miller, and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper's thoughts about using the Insurrection Act. There is also a copy of an official unclassified document from Gen. Milley to the leaders of the branches of the military, reminding them of the military's devotion to protecting the Constitution. The authors describe Gen. Milley seeking advice from Colin Powell, Brad Parscale being demoted from his position as Trump's campaign manager, Kamala Harris being chosen as Biden's running mate, the events of election night, and Rudy Giuliani's advice to Trump, The book continues to jump around, describing different conversations between various parties and the reactions of political figures to the events of the past few years. There is information about Mike Pompeo, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, Fauci, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, attorney Sidney Powell, Linsey Graham's advice to Trump, and more. There is quite a bit of information about Mike Pence's response to the election results and the events at the Capitol, and his seeking advice from others including Dan Quayle. Overall, it is Gen. Milley and Pence that seem to be focused on more than some of the others, and the authors spend a good portion of the book describing their interactions. This book does offer unprecedented insight into the thoughts of c...
Robert F.
Exceptional read. I finished the book in 4 hours. Exceptional reporting and a scary look at what Donald Trump tried to do and ultimately failed. We might not be so lucky next time.
Elisa 20
I like the Woodward trilogy titles: “FEAR” was a reminder of what Donald Trump thought was important in order to get power. “RAGE” came from Trump’s proud observation of the emotion he could create in others. And “PERIL” shows how the chaos, anger and fear came together in the final year of Trump’s presidency, placing the presidency and even democracy in danger. “Peril” begins with America in danger from Trump. It ends the same way. Trump hasn’t gone and neither is the threat he poses to democracy. Woodward is working with Washington Post’s Robert Costa, but the style of research and writing is the same. It’s a lot of interviews –over 200—and a lot of work putting them together in a way that will hold interest. Sometimes they succeed in this and create real scenes—other times, you see the problem of having so much detail that you just –have- to include it. Storytelling sometimes takes a back seat to recounting details that aren’t always that significant. That’s one problem. A bigger one is that Woodward has always been kind to people who are his sources. Typically, they are some of the most complicit people, but are allowed to spin themselves into heroes. Here, that’s General Milley, Bill Barr, Lindsey Graham, Kellyanne Conway, among others who need to be scrutinized in a harsher light. “PERIL” has many unnerving descriptions of Trump’s instability and apparent unwillingness to accept the reality of losing the election. Some of the above people made some efforts to save us from disaster. But most of the staffers and Republican officials around Trump do little to protect democracy. Barr’s there, and Pence, But where’s the rest of the Cabinet? The president described here is a danger to the country. Where were the Republicanns in the Cabinet to invoke the 25th amendment? Why were McCarthy and McConnell so complacent? There are no answers here. Pence’s decision-making process made this a worthwhile read for me. He did the right thing—in the end—including staying at the Capitol during the insurrection. But he clearly wanted to cooperate with Trump if at all possible under the Constitution. It was only after everyone he consulted – including Dan Quayle, who comes across well here – that Pence agrees to do the right thing—and do it without equivocation. (For a time, he dithered about possibly expressing sympathy with those who wanted to throw out Biden votes). About a third of the book is about Biden—his campaign, transition, and early presidency. But, as in real life, it’s Trump who takes the air out of the room. Even ten months after losing, he is still sending letters to Georgia’s secretary of state as he did last Friday, demanding that the electors be “decertified or whatever the legal remedy is.” It would be comical. If it wasn’t so delusional and dangerous. “Peril”, indeed.
If you’re looking for the gold standard in Trump books, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s “Peril” is it. I’m not saying that because it was written by Bob Woodward (I thought his two previous books about the Trump administration were “okay, not great”). It’s good because of what Woodward and Costa cover in their book. Everything from Covid, the election, the riots of January 6, and past few months. As per usual in a Bob Woodward book, the topic - Donald Trump’s final year in office - was thoroughly investigated. The authors seemed to know the right questions to ask their interviewees, and that can make all the difference in an expose. Is “Peril” an expose? Yep, and a very good one. As an addendum, I heard an interview with Robert Costa, who said, when asked about the book’s title, that he and Woodward thought Donald Trump was not through with politics and was therefore a “peril”. I agree fully with him and only wish the people who SHOULD read this book would read it…