Trump and His Generals (DC)

The Cost of Chaos

Praise for ​Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos:

"Bergen provides a deeply informed study, written with clarity and flair. Reflecting fresh research and nearly 100 interviews with some key players, his retelling of Trump’s foreign policy skillfully synthesizes what’s already known and adds gossipy tidbits….it is the best single account of Trump’s foreign policy to date.”
—Derek Chollet, The Washington Post

“Through meticulously documented interviews and research, the author amply shows how the Trump administration has stubbornly stuck with this free-wheeling playbook of slash and burn ...”
—Kirkus Review

Halfway through the first year of the Trump administration, the "axis of adults" on the team had reason to feel fairly sanguine. Feral ideologue Mike Flynn had blown up on the launch pad as National Security Advisor, and by the end of the summer, Steve Bannon, the intellectual architect of a hardcore "America First" populist nationalism that called for a retreat into isolation, was out as well. Jim Mattis was secure at the helm of Defense, and his fellow generals HR McMaster and John Kelly were steadying presences too, who well knew the value of America's network of global defense alliances. Aiding and abetting them were two other strong "globalists"—a swear word to the Bannonite wing—Gary Cohn and Rex Tillerson. Trump would always be Trump, but the grown-ups on board seemed willing and able to keep the crazy at bay.

By late 2019, however, these dreams had been utterly dashed. McMaster, Kelly, Mattis, Cohn, and Tillerson were all gone, done in one after the other by the relentless storm of chaos, and taking with them in the minds of many any reasonable hope for a mature and considered national security policy, one that knew what a real emergency was when it saw it. Trump and His Generals is an intimate account of life inside that storm, foregrounding the experiences of the four generals whose relationships with Trump have done so much to define his presidency—Mattis, McMaster, Kelly and Flynn. From Iraq and Afghanistan to Syria and Iran, from Russia and China to North Korea and Islamist terrorism.

Trump and His Generals is a brilliant reckoning with an American ship of state navigating a roiling sea of acute threats without a well-functioning rudder.

Join the International Security program for the launch of Peter Bergen’s new book, Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos.


Peter Bergen
, @peterbergencnn
Author of Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos
Vice President, Global Studies & Fellows at New America

Sharon Burke, @burkese
Senior Advisor, International Security Program and Resource Security Program