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Fight House

President Donald arrives to speak about a deal to end the partial government shutdown in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., January 25, 2019. (Jim Young/REUTERS)

In the Trump era, everything somehow feels unprecedented. Various kinds of presidential misbehavior, bureaucratic machinations, congressional dereliction, political hysterias, and White House dissension all seem singularly bizarre.

Some of what we’re seeing really is very unusual, of course. But some just isn’t, and a little historical perspective can help us better understand it. Intense White House in-fighting surely falls into that category. To appreciate that, I very highly recommend a new book by the great presidential historian Tevi Troy. Fight House: Rivalries in the White House from Truman the Trump, which is just out this week, is packed with fascinating tales of mind-boggling bickering in the highest reaches of the executive branch.

Troy is more than a historian, he’s also a former senior White House official himself (in the George W. Bush years), so he brings to bear a particularly informed and subtle sense of how the White House works and fails.

(Full disclosure: Tevi was my boss in the Bush White House, is a friend, and is basically the guy whose picture you’ll find next to “mensch” in the dictionary, and that’s one reason I’m praising his excellent book. But the other reason is that it’s an excellent book.)

This book really helps put the Trump era in perspective, which is one thing we badly need now. And if you like politics, it’s just great fun to read. Well worth your while.

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.

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