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Publisher's Summary

In his audiobook, A Higher Loyalty, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of power and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader. 

Mr. Comey served as director of the FBI from 2013 to 2017, appointed to the post by President Barack Obama. He previously served as US attorney for the Southern District of New York and the US deputy attorney general in the administration of President George W. Bush. From prosecuting the mafia and Martha Stewart to helping change the Bush administration's policies on torture and electronic surveillance and overseeing the Hillary Clinton email investigation as well as ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, Comey has been involved in some of the most consequential cases and policies of recent history.  

©2018 James Comey (P)2018 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Comey's conversational tone instantly connects with the listener, and hearing him deliver the book's highly charged contents in his own voice brings authenticity and immediacy to the presentation...This greatly anticipated, revelatory memoir needs to be heard." (AudioFile)

"It was essential that Comey himself narrate this book, not only because his absence would have distracted listeners familiar with his voice but also because only the author could credibly convey the range of raw emotions emanating from the experiences he shares from this most eventful of lives." - Booklist, Starred Review

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 04-17-18

More Than Trump: All Comey's Life/Working Years--

Actually, this is a really, really good book by a man who winds up coming off as someone who has walked a fine non-partisan line for a long, long time.
I truly expected to come away from listening to A Higher Loyalty, rolling my eyes. Not because I'm a big Trump fan or anything, but coming so soon after his high-profile firing, I thought it would be bashing and filled with self-sanctimonious tirades. And it's anything but.
Wow. Comey has been through it all: From Martha Stewart, through surveillance and torture programs; from coming from an agency that borders on almost totally white, through keeping a memo authorizing the surveillance of MLK (okayed by Robert Kennedy) as a reminder that that which is not looked at carefully could lead good people far, far astray.
Cheney comes off as hideous, Hillary is a piece of work, Obama could be vastly over-confident but was willing to listen and learn (which surprised Comey; he thought that, coming as an appointment from a Republican president, a Democrat would dislike him grievously).
And yes, there's the utter outrage that happened with the Russians, and quite a bit to do with Trump.
Just don't come into this book thinking it's a vast tell-all about Trump with bashing thrown in for good measure. This is about a kid who avoided bullies (tho' he once joined their ranks to his forever shame), a young man who lost an infant son, a hard worker who tried to give Alberto Gonzales a backbone, somebody who has tried to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the black citizens who are unfairly targeted.
To someone who is raising a red flag about what went on and what continues to go on today. Sprinkled throughout it a touch of ribald language with a heavy dose of humor.
Another reviewer expressed that they couldn't multitask whilst listening to this, and I found that to be true for me as well. I was up all night.

526 of 658 people found this review helpful

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Not what I expected

I didn’t have much of an opinion regarding James Comey before listening. At the end I feel much different. Vastly entertaining, well written, beautifully narrated,surprisingly detailed. This is a great read regardless of your political affiliation.

126 of 160 people found this review helpful

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  • Cariola
  • Chambersburg, PA USA
  • 04-18-18

Not What You're Expecting

After my experience with Fire and Fury, I wasn't sure if I would regret purchasing James Comey's much-anticipated book. I don't. The issue I had with Michael Woolf's book was simply that there were no surprises by the time the cable news networks had done their interviews and discussions. There are no Trump bombshells in Comey's book that haven't also been made public in his testimony or his interview with George Stephanopoulos--but the 2016 election and the Trump presidency make up only the last 20-25% of the book, and the rest is very interesting indeed. A Higher Loyalty is an honest memoir, one that looks back at the events and individuals that shaped the former FBI Director's character and values and his concept of what makes a good leader.

In addressing his childhood, Comey talks about a devastating move from a familiar school and neighborhood (his grandfather had been the local police commissioner) where he had been one of the popular kinds to another where he suffered bullying. He tells us about a terrifying incident when, as a teenager, he and his brother were held at gunpoint by a home invader later identified as a serial rapist. He recounts some stupid mistakes he made as a grocery stockboy, and of the owner, a man whose example gave him some important lessons in what makes a good leader. Later, we see him discovering the work of Reinhold Niebuhr in a college religion class. (You may have seen Comey's tweets under Neibuhr's name, many of them using the theologist's own words.) He gives us insights into his long marriage to a supportive wife and their tragic loss of an infant son. Along the way, he remembers teachers, colleagues, and others who set an example for the man he hoped to become.

And, of course, there is his long and fascinating career. After a stint as law clerk to a federal judge in Manhattan and a short stint with a private law firm, Comey joined the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York--the same office currently investigating Michael Cohen, President Trump's "fixer." One of the cases he worked on was the Gambino crime family prosecution, and he has a lot of intriguing stories to tell about that experience. He was deputy special counsel to the Whitewater investigation--his first run-in with Hillary Clinton--and, as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, investigated President Clinton's pardon of fugitive Marc Rich, a Clinton campaign contributor facing federal charges of violating trade sanctions against Iran. I had no idea that Comey was the lead prosecutor in the case against Martha Stewart. His discussion of the case and the dilemmas he faced are a fine example of the way he uses his legal experiences to demonstrate his sense of ethics. Years earlier, he had upheld the conviction of a young black assistant pastor who had lied to the FBI in attempting to protect his mentor. If this man served time for his crime, why should Martha Stewart be shown leniency for the same crime and others?

Comey's first headlong plunge into Washington politics came when he opposed the Bush regime's extension of the NSA's domestic wiretapping program, which had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The story of his visit to John Ashcroft's hospital bedside, accompanied by three trusted colleagues, including then-FBI Director Robert Mueller. They persuaded Ashcroft, the Attorney General, to uphold the discontinuation of the wiretaps, thwarting the wishes of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez. This was not Comey's last run-in with these politicos and others, including Condoleeza Rice. He opposed the interrogation procedures--waterboarding, sleep deprivation, humiliation, etc.--as forms of both physical and mental torture, and he was involved in the investigation of Scooter Libby for lying to the FBI, obstructing justice, and outing CIA agent Valerie Plame. (Is it possible this is yet another reason, in addition to sending a message to cronies under investigation, for Trump's recent pardon of Libby?) Again and again, he stands up for his belief that members of the Justice Department, once appointed, must work independently and not be steered by the Executive Office. He addresses the criticism he received for appearing sympathetic to the concerns of Black Lives Matters and recounts his efforts to increase the percentage of minority personnel working for the FBI, encouraging employees to recruit talented people by telling them about the opportunities the department offers and by "finding joy" in their own work.

And there are the last few years: the issue of Hillary Clinton's private server and lost emails, the concerns about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and the exchanges with Trump that resulted in Comey's firing. Comey is nothing if not honest about his personal faults and the mistakes he has made, but he attempts to explain the internal conflicts he faced and the rationale behind his decisions. You may not agree with him, but you can't help but agree that he thought he was doing his job to the best of his ability, holding fast to the truth he still believes will set us all free and following the example of his lifelong mentors. (Once his book tour is over, he will be returning to the classroom, teaching courses in effective and ethical leadership.)

I listened to this book on audio and recommend it in that format. Comey is a good writer and a very good reader, and hearing him tell his own story adds credence to it. I enjoyed A Higher Loyalty not as an exposé or even a self-justification, but simply as the story of one man's life and its challenges. I only wish I shared his optimism about our country's future. He ends with a metaphor: when forest fires burn themselves out, there is room for more and better things to emerge from the scorched earth, resulting in a forest that is even stronger than before.

117 of 163 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathy
  • Davis, CA, United States
  • 04-28-18

An Honorable and Honest Man

When I got this book, my feeling toward James Comey was primarily distrust, being quite sure he handled the Clinton email investigation in a way to enable Trump to be elected.

I am so glad curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to listen to Comey's story. I learned that I had been misguided and largely ignorant of what really occurred when the announcement was made that the Clinton email investigation was being reopened right before the election. My eyes were opened to the true character of the author and I now believe his behavior was non-partisan and very above board.

Comey does a wonderful narration of his book, and never for a moment did I lose interest or suspect any duplicity on his part. I was so engrossed, I had no idea if I was in the beginning, middle, or nearing the end of the book, and yet I found no need at all to track my progress (which is unusual for me.) Comey describes his childhood days, his career history, the Martha Stewart episode, the post 9-11 wire-tapping controversy, etc, etc, in addition to a detailed history of the Clinton email case. His impressions of working with three presidents, Bush, Obama, and Trump, was particularly amusing and interesting and sometimes saddening.

I come away from this book with a strong admiration for James Comey and a knowledge and understanding that I did not have before. I am sure he will be successful in his next career venture, and I wish him the best.

Highly recommended--you need to get this book!

36 of 51 people found this review helpful

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Very illuminating

Well written, well read. I listened to it all in one day. I laughed, I sighed, I rolled my eyes, and I got teary eyed. This book explores Comey's history as a civil servant and sheds light on his goal to be truly the best at his job and follow the laws of this country. Addresses Clinton scandals as well as Trump in the end. The epilogue is truly beautiful! Hopeful and sharp at the same time.

105 of 150 people found this review helpful

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Pretty disappointing - Deep State Exemplified

I was really looking forward to hearing directly from James Comey about his experiences. But from the very beginning, it was obvious that he had a chip on his shoulder about "criminals." He has a score to settle from early childhood and he believes he and he alone can KNOW FOR SURE who is guilty of whatever he deems wrong. It explains a lot about how the deep state operates. They've completely abandoned the US Constitution in pursuit of making the country "better" according to their political views. They say they're tolerant, but only of those who share their political views.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Glaring self-serving omissions within

Comey draws out his narrative by romanticizing the leadership in several of his colleagues in mentors and writes about he attempted to emulate these values of leadership throughout his career. He glorifies several key players on one side of the political spectrum, while disparaging several on the opposite end of the spectrum. He also pays tribute to his own delusions of grandeur while simultaneously claiming to be imperfect but integritable and down to earth.

The problem with his writing is that he clearly leaves out any so many of the arguments for his duplicitous behavior while working in Government. He never explains why he approved the immunity agreements of so many persons prior to their interviews in the mid year review. He never explains while he wrote to his staff before interviewing HRC that she wasn't going to receive any charges. He never explains why he concluded that intent was a part of the federal espionage statute when it's never mentioned. He justifies that it's okay to leak government documents if you've been fired and made a private citizen, despite the fact that those documents were written as a public official and while executive privilege would certainly apply. He claims to hate the spotlight and just so happens to keep ending up in it, while also admitting that he struggles to keep his ego in check.

This book is filled with the opinions of a man scorned and undoubtedly full of resentment for the Trump administration if not the entire Republican party. Its told entirely through his perspective and casts himself as the victim of a mob boss made POTUS by an unsuspecting and ignorant electorate.

In conclusion, if you're a leftist partisan you'll enjoy this book because it allows you to continue indulging in the fantasy that Republicans have elected a Palpatine-esque dictator who is somehow both an evil genius and inept. If you're anyone with an open mind you'll see how lacking in important details this book is. I say detail because there are facts here, but facts without proper context does not equal the whole truth.

I recommend everyone who intends on reading this book also read Greg Jarret's book The Russia Hoax. Compare the two and you'll see just how lacking in details and context this book is.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A Higher Loyalty

Instead of reading his book, If you have the choice, listen to James Comey tell his own story. I felt as though I was in the room with him-listening to his heartfelt story. I enjoyed hearing his story, first hand.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Refreshing, interesting, and inspiring.

After the seemingly endless reporting of Trump's day to day expressions of incompetence, I had become sick of even reading the news. Part of me feared this would be a book that focused on those more "entertaining" topics. Instead, Jim gives us a refreshingly logical, intelligent, and professional account of his life and experiences leading up to and throughout his time working in the Trump administration. Not only did this teach me a lot about the political universe but it also gave me a huge amount of respect for Jim.

In additional to being informative in terms of Jim's experiences, the book also gives amazing advice on how to be a good leader. As a young professional constantly grappling with this, I thought the book did a great job of weaving this advice into the fabric of the narrative.

It would be a mistake not to read/listen to this.

37 of 56 people found this review helpful

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Excellent audio book, not JUST headlines

If you could sum up A Higher Loyalty in three words, what would they be?

Surprising good book.

No, it's not just the stuff you saw on the news, but the back story behind a man's entire life.

Yes, you will hear all the other interesting details that you saw in the television interviews and in the media hype BUT you also get to hear about a normal kid, a regular guy, and how he got there in the first place. Even if Comey never had become the Director of the F.B.I., he still would have had a fascinating life.

Any additional comments?

This book is a keeper. And Comey himself is a very good narrator as well.

132 of 203 people found this review helpful