Reviewing the most important recent books about Donald Trump
Few topics have so dominated conversation in America since November 8, 2016, as the behavior of the country’s 45th president. Some commentators have likened the attention received by Donald Trump to that afforded Ronald Reagan three decades earlier. But I think there’s no comparison: Trump wins that contest hands down. He has been the subject of innumerable articles and commentaries in the media and a fast-growing shelf of books, with no end in sight. Here I’ve listed nine of those books about Donald Trump. They’re arranged in alphabetical order by the authors’ last names.
Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes — Why Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election
“Clintonworld sources started telling us in 2015 that Hillary was still struggling to articulate her motivation for seeking the presidency.” Clinton never managed to solve this problem. Allen and Parnes make clear that the candidate’s failure to explain why she wanted to be president is one of the root causes for her defeat. Read the review.
Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum — A conservative explains how Donald Trump corrupts democracy
David Frum is a card-carrying conservative, or neoconservative, if you prefer the current jargon. He wrote speeches for George W. Bush and served as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Trumpocracy is a wide-ranging look at the damage Donald Trump and his appointees are inflicting on the country. Read the review.
Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green — How Steve Bannon sold the alt-right to Donald Trump and made history
A veteran journalist attempts to explain both why the notoriously self-promoting developer and reality-TV star came to be in the White House — and why his presidency is failing. The case Green makes, singling out alt-right provocateur Steve Bannon for a large measure of the responsibility, is not entirely convincing. Read the review.
Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win by Luke Harding and The Steele Dossier: Trump Intelligence Allegations by Christopher Steele — Collusion exposed, but is there more? Is Donald Trump a Russian agent?
The case against Trump, members of his family, business partners, friends, and staff members is far more wide-ranging than initial reports suggested. The Watergate scandal pales by comparison. Collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is only a small piece of the picture. Read the review.
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild — What Trump voters believe: a Berkeley sociologist goes to the source
Influenced by Fox News, industry, state government, church, and the regular media, “[p]eople on the right seemed to be strongly moved by three concerns — taxes, faith, and honor.” The “deep story” the Berkeley sociologist crafts provides a window onto this mindset. The gist of it is this: “you are a stranger in your own land.” Read the review.
It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America by David Cay Johnston — With “political termites,” Donald Trump is undermining our government
It’s Even Worse Than You Think spotlights the policies Trump has promoted and the people he’s named to senior positions in government. The picture is devastating. As Johnston notes at the outset, “the Trump presidency is unlike anything that came before, a presidency built on open public contempt for Constitutional principles.” Read the review.
The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics, by John Judis — Donald Trump: populism, or fascism?
Judis’ subject is not the 2016 election but the much broader topic of the politics of protest. His argument spans more than a century, beginning with the emergence of the People’s Party in the United States late in the 19th century. Read the review.
Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War Over the Truth by Howard Kurtz — A Fox News host explains Donald Trump’s “Media Madness”
Fox News commentator Howard Kurtz begins his new book, Media Madness, conceding that “Donald Trump is staking his presidency, as he did his election, on nothing less than destroying the credibility of the news media . . .” And then he proceeds to devote nearly all of the book’s 256 pages attempting to prove that the media is doing Trump’s job for him, undermining its own credibility. In other words, this book is just about what you might expect to come from any but the most rabidly reactionary Fox News host. Read the review.
How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt — Two government professors ask, is American democracy dying?
Harvard government professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt draw on decades of research in comparative politics in Europe and Latin America to review the conditions of today’s fractured American polity with Donald Trump in the White House. Their conclusion is equivocal but sobering. Read the review.
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff — Fire and Fury review: Exposing the chaos in the Trump White House
It’s difficult to imagine any account of the goings-on in Donald Trump’s White House that would paint a darker picture of this worst of all Presidents and the servile minions around him. Fire and Fury is scathing. However, far better writers than I have reviewed this book and found it wanting. Read the review.