Former FBI Director James Comey tells his side of the story in A Higher Loyalty. Plus, he details the big cases that he was part of before the whole Trump White House debacle. He’s a surprisingly good writer, and I enjoyed this book.
In addition to the investigations, Comey talks about ethical leaders and the qualities they embody. He primarily uses examples from his own life. The fact that he served in various positions under three Presidents gives him legitimate perspective. And of course, you know going in that it’s all a set up to say our 45th President is not an ethical leader.
To that end, Comey compares Trump to the heads of Mafia / Cosa Nostra families. That’s where the concept of loyalty comes into play. Again, his past experience colors his opinions since he was Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York City, prosecuting Mafia cases.
Comey was also the U.S. deputy attorney general in the administration of President George W. Bush. In that position, he was part of decisions about the CIA’s modes of torture, among other things. And the way he tells it, he fought against the definition endorsed by that administration.
His leadership as director of the FBI is also a significant part of the book. The four years worth of experiences are woven in throughout. Again, Comey is refuting Trump’s claim that he mismanaged the Bureau. That’s certainly within his rights, and makes for interesting reading.
The 2016 election cycle is the focus of just the last half of the book. But I found Comey’s lead up interesting and relevant. The last ten percent covers his firing and reaction to it. Again, this made sense to me in the larger context.
Comey dishes just enough to make his story unique. He puts forth a thesis early on: “… there is a higher loyalty in all of our lives—not to a person, not to a party, not to a group. The higher loyalty is to lasting values, most important the truth.“ The concepts in his thesis are complex and mostly subjective. Still, I think he proves them effectively in the context of his story.
The book is definitely readable. Comey doesn’t get bogged down in the background stories, but uses them to push the story train along quickly. And of course when the Trump avalanche hits, there’s no escaping.
I couldn’t help but be gobsmacked when Comey admits he didn’t vote in 2016. Somehow I missed that fact in the extensive press coverage around his firing. This just doesn’t seem like something to admit. But maybe that’s because I always make the time to vote in every election, small and large.
This book is a must if you’ve read Fire and Fury, What Happened, and Hacks like I have. I’m not sure how many perspectives I need on the current government train wreck. I’ll let you know when I figure that one out!