Although he didn’t know it at the time, the upcoming presidential transition would make the retired Air Force general and director of national intelligence more famous than he ever was when he worked in government.
He never intended to write a memoir; indeed, when I spent weeks interviewing Clapper and following him around before the election for what at the time was the sole long-form profile of him ever written, he told me that his only real hopes after leaving office were to fade into private life and clean out his basement.
Retirement from public life ended up coming at a worrisome time for him, he writes.
The America he had long sworn to protect turned out to be under unprecedented assault from within.
“We have elected someone as president of the United States whose first instincts are to twist and distort truth to his advantage, to generate financial benefit to himself and his family, and, in doing so, to demean the values this country has stood for.”
While his book doesn’t shrink from direct criticism of the new president and an administration that prizes “alternative facts” and condemns all dissenting views as “fake news,” the most insightful and important part of Clapper’s book is not the two chapters at the end on Russia and Trump’s election—which no doubt accounts for how his memoir hit No.