Peril | Bob Woodward

Summary of: Peril
By: Bob Woodward


Embark on a riveting journey through the extraordinary and tumultuous period of the United States’ political landscape in the book ‘Peril’ by renowned journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. In this summary, you’ll relive the lead-up to the 2020 election, the unprecedented presidential transition, and the events that transpired through summer 2021. Witness the unravelling stories of Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and the various key players who navigate in a dangerous and complex political situation. Brace yourself for a wealth of anecdotes, insights, and the distinctive portrayal of the crucial events that shaped American democracy during this period.


Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s “Threat” provides a blow-by-blow account of the unprecedented crisis in US governance. The authors take readers through the lead-up to the 2020 election and the turbulent presidential transition via chronologically organized anecdotes without offering analysis, leaving readers to draw conclusions. With remarkable access to the White House, Woodward and Costa showcase their reporting on Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and the threat to American democracy in this essential read.

erractic, narcissistic and dangerous

The authors, Woodward and Costa, assert that Trump’s character was marked with erratic and narcissistic traits. They highlighted an aspect of Trump’s personality, which suggested that humiliating him in public could lead to real danger. Trump often displayed ignorance or disdain for procedural norms and precedents. The authors claim that the House Speaker, Paul Ryan, resigned due to his weariness in dealing with Trump.

Biden’s Struggle Against Trump and Public Perception

Joe Biden, a seasoned senator and former VP, understood how Trump won the elections. He warned that silence would lead to more chaos in the streets. However, he faced an uphill battle in the primaries. Critics labeled him as boring and old, and his missteps during the Anita Hill case and the Iraq war polarized progressives against him. Meanwhile, Trump investigated Biden’s connections to a Ukrainian energy firm, leading to his impeachment and his son’s relapse. Woodward and Costa’s account provides insight into a crucial era in American politics, marked by public perception and behind-the-scenes machinations.

Unveiling Trump’s Mismanagement

The book recounts how Donald Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic slowed the US economy. He staged rallies despite his staff’s warnings that they would be “superspreader” events. Trump fomented conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and election fraud and pressured vaccine developers and regulators to bypass safety protocols. He ended up contracting COVID-19. The authors also reveal that concerns arose within the White House that Trump would manufacture a crisis with China to distract from his failures. Woodward and Costa chronicle that Trump fired staff, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, for not kowtowing sufficiently. White House staffers feared that without Esper, Trump would go around the bend. Trump filed lawsuits contesting the election results, but they failed. Giuliani touted evidence-free election fraud conspiracies, particularly at a press conference outside the Four Seasons Total Landscaping business, which made Trump a laughingstock.

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