Studies in Intelligence 67, No. 1 (Extracts, March 2023)

Review Essay: "Memoir of an Attorney General: One Damn Thing After Another," by William P. Barr

Reviewed by Mike R.

As a high school junior, William Barr told his guidance counselor that he wanted to become director of CIA. If not for his mother and Stansfield Turner, he just might have done so.

One Damn Thing After Another (William Morrow, 2022—595 pages, illustrations, index) is the autobiography of President Donald J. Trump’s second attorney general, who led the Department of Justice (DoJ) from February 2019 to December 2020.

Barr is only the second individual to reprise the role, having occupied the position during 1991–93. The book starts promisingly but grows uneven in its most anticipated section devoted to his service in the Trump era. It branches off onto numerous expositions about current sociocultural flash points, and Barr gives free rein to his opinionated commentary, which he holds more in check during depictions of the impressive buildup of his career up until that point.

While the book naturally is more focused on DoJ concerns, those with an interest in intelligence and national security will find these topics addressed regularly throughout its nearly 600 pages. A reader willing to overlook the memoir’s many downsides will come away with an enhanced appreciation for a consequential figure in two presidential administrations.

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