Anyone with a basic understanding of politics knows that executive governance is a fractious business. President Trump’s critics seem to think that, with the exception of this administration’s hectic tenure, the White House is a serene wonderland where policy gets implemented without pushback and the road to corporate sinecure is smoothly paved. In reality, of course, proceedings in and around the Oval Office typically resemble the catastrophic melee at the end of the Book of Judges. This is one important lesson to be derived from Tevi Troy’s wonderful new chronicle of intra-administration controversies, Fight House: Rivalries in the White House from Truman to Trump. In a series of riveting anecdotes, Troy demonstrates that the course of the presidency never did run smooth.

Troy was a “participant and witness” to more than a few sparring matches as George W. Bush’s White House aide and deputy secretary of Health and Human Services. This makes him the ideal observer to tackle the subject of tensions in the executive. Fight House, like Troy’s Intellectuals and the American Presidency (2002), manages a rare feat for a book about modern Washington politics: it simultaneously engages and instructs. Its implicit lesson is that the Trump White House, though far from tranquil, is no more scandalously contentious than administrations from

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