As with my initial entry for my Irrelevant Reviews section, The Hate U Give, this is in no way an irrelevant book. Again, it's just been slotted under this category because I think A Higher Loyalty has been out long enough that yet another review doesn't add much to the conversation.
But I still like using reviews as a chance to reflect back on my reading for greater understanding and retention. So here we are.
This book focuses primarily on two things: the events that culminated in Comey's unceremonious dismissal from the FBI, and the notable events of his life that put his dismissal and Trump in a moral context. The latter helps to explain his actions throughout the former, giving more substance to the book than just the scandal around his dismissal.
It's an anecdotal retelling, but still chock full of information and references, making for an interesting and compelling read.
The use of Comey's background to anchor the narrative is excellent. We get to see some of the cog-turning that resulted in the major headlines of the time. And I think Comey's conversational tone and first-person POV help to draw the reader in and get them open to a story they're likely burnt out on after a media circus that continues to swirl around both Comey and Trump.
Not a lot, honestly. Maybe it's because I'm not well-read in memoir, but I was impressed with the way he paces and carries a narrative perfectly. We all know well the concepts of pacing and the three act story, and I never would have expected those to be applied to nonfiction and memoir, but in this work they absolutely are. There's a sense of increasing urgency as the book progresses which grips the reader and pulls them along for the ride, much as Comey was pulled into many of the situations he recounts.
If I could say one thing, it's that the book does feature a large cast to remember. However, this is true of most political books, and I'd actually forgotten how much I liked this genre. (The title that got me hooked on political novels was The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, by Frances Stonor Saunders)
A Higher Loyalty was a highly enjoyable book that explains a lot about what Comey feels are important qualities in a leader. It ends up being a critique of Trump that utterly lacks the callous edginess we seem obsessed with today. He rarely indicates Trump as the subject of his criticisms, but the implication gives it a gentler, mentor-esque quality.
The peppering of good-natured humour provides an odd juxtaposition in handling what for many is a terrifying series of events in a very casual manner. In some ways, I think this likely makes it easier to digest, like a dog's pill wrapped in a slice of ham. But it also comes across as him trying to reach out to those of us who are quite anxious about this administration, to say to every reader personally, it'll be okay in the end.
You can find the author, James Comey, on Twitter.