An Audio-Book Review: “Complicit”


Written and read by Omarosa Manigault Newman

Published by Simon & Schuster Audio


The Book:

I was hoping to review this one before its fifteen minutes were up, but it took me too long to get to it. Well, I’ll review it anyway. It will serve as a virtual shower to clean off the experience. As for the title of this review, many will recall the Saturday Night Live ad spoof starring Scarlett Johansen as Ivanka Trump and, if not, it comes up twice in this book, but it  is just as applicable to Omarosa Manigault Newman.

My first conundrum, listening to this book was over the believability of the author. By her own words she portrays her self as an actress, a reality TV star, and a political functionary in two administrations. None of those tell me I can rely on anything she writes. A lot of what she writes about her time in “Trumpworld” is diametrically opposed to anything she said or implied before she was fired.

Keep in mind that if you have read Michael Wolff’s Fire & Fury or just listened to the news in the last two years or so, there is nothing new in this book. Well, not about Donald J. and his administration. Half the content is actually about Omarosa; how she grew up, her family, her university education (not to be sneered at, btw) her various careers, how she got involved with reality TV, her personal triumphs and tragedies and so forth. I suppose this is reasonable content, but I could not help but see a very important parallel between her and Trump; no matter what is said, it always comes back to the first person. It is as much or more a book about Omarosa as it is about anything else.

So, as I said, no new content about Trumpworld. I doubt she did this, but it is almost as is she culled everything she wanted to say about Trump and his cronies from the news and other people’s books and articles. The whole book stands as possible confirmation for all those stories we have been hearing, but without any new evidence to back it up.

One theme that ran through the book was over the putative recording of Trump using the “N” word in an out-take from “The Apprentice.” She apparently heard about that early on and repeats that she was told that the recording really exists, but this is a second-hand account from an unnamed source. How credible is it? Now do I believe Trump uses such language? Oh yes, yes I do. Did he do it on set?” It would not surprise me, but being told that such a tape exists because someone I do not know says someone else I do not know told her there is a “tape” is not even proof of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (unless there is a subatomic particle that spreads lies… hmm? I suppose it might be called the “Ratatoskon” (after the squirrel that carries messages up and down the world tree Yggdrasil between Odin and Niddhog) and, like the tachyon, such a particle would have to travel faster than light… uh… never mind.)

In any case, Omarosa asks herself several times whether Trump might have been referring to her when he used that word. As she heard about it fairly early on, it’s a reasonable conjecture, especially since she was one or only two African Americans on the show that season. Like much of Trumpworld, the cast was very white. In fact, when Wikileaks announced that by their own analysis the recent op-ed in the New York Times “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration” was written by an older white male it was obviously not so much an analysis as it was a blinding glimpse of the obvious. Certainly, it’s a safe bet considering how many old white males are in the administration.

However, while it comes up several times, and each time she confesses to having serious concerns, it is obvious that each time she put her concerns back into her pocket and continued to associate herself with Trump.

She also goes on and on about how she was betrayed by Hilary Clinton and I found myself waiting to hear what that was about. Apparently, early in her career she had a minor job in the Clinton Whitehouse and so when Hilary started considering her 2016 run, Omarosa joined the organization (a PAC? I forget) that did the advance work for two years. When Hilary finally declared her candidacy, however, she did not choose as campaign manager the person who had been running the pre-candidacy organization, nor was Omarosa offered a top job in the campaign. That’s betrayal? Obviously, she did not get the job she wanted, nor did her boss, but bringing outsiders to run any organization is hardly unusual. And she apparently had no trouble with her hero, Trump (or DJT as she constantly calls him) bringing in Manafort to replace Lewandowsky and then Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway to replace Manafort. None of these were exactly promoting from within.

Back to the “N” word, which haunts this book as it does in one form or other all African-Americans. Every time Omarosa has a choice to make, the possible “tape” rears its head and then she puts it aside until she finally decides it might be time to leave the Trump administration. Supposedly her plan was to leave in January, 2018, the one-year anniversary, but given her stated reasons for wanting out, I think she should have simply packed up and written an “I quit” resignation letter. Instead, she was fired by General Kelly before she could resign. Is that true or just another story for our consumption. Well, we will never really know, will we?

In short (I know, too late!), the only verified facts in the book about the Trump administration are those that we’ve already read or watched in the news. The rest is speculation those of us who do not trust Trump already believed, but if we’re honest still have no real proof of or else is Omarosa telling us about her life (which I have no reason to doubt nor is it my intention to call into question). Despite all her stated reservations as time went on, she was as complicit in the actions of the Trump administration as anyone else on the inside. In all, the book is probably not worth the 20% off cover price it was released at unless you really want to hear her side of the story.

The Audiobook:

I could say something sarky like, “Omarosa Manigault Newman reads this book as if she had written it herself… oh wait!” but to be quite honest she does read it very well for the most part. She does have an unfortunate habit of imitating the people she quotes and in most cases the imitations are far from flattering. Hope Hicks sounds like a bubble-head. Kellyanne Conway never says “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!” but there is a definite touch of the Wicked Witch of the West Wing in there. Most of her vocal depictions sound dead on, actually, at least in tonality and accent and some might be realistic in depiction too although Her version of Trump himself sounds more like someone from the heart of Brooklyn than Queens. I had no trouble imagining Trump saying the words she attributes to him, but not in that accent, or maybe having grown up in Ohio, she does not really hear the difference. Most of the accents she used were standard theatrical accents and theatrical accents are not really varied enough to differentiate by neighborhoods.

So, I’d say it’s a fairly good reading of a book that is at best mediocre. Next up, let’s compare it to Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the Whitehouse. (coming soon!)

This entry was posted in Audio Books, Autobiography, Books, HIstory, Nonfiction, Politics, Reviews, Social Commentary and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to An Audio-Book Review: “Complicit”

  1. Cole says:

    When a reviewer requests your book, decides whether or not to give it to them based on a lot of factors I can’t recall. Things like, history of reviewer, does the reviewer follow through with reviews, etc. I think they check new reviewer’s blogs and things like that as well.

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