A nimble overview of the library of Trumpiana, which is likely to grow no matter what the outcome of the 2020 election.

WHAT WERE WE THINKING

A BRIEF INTELLECTUAL HISTORY OF THE TRUMP ERA

A literary survey of the wreckage that is the Trump administration.

In 2015, Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post book critic Lozada carved out a special assignment: reading the books generated by the Trump White House years (and some earlier books, such as The Art of the Deal) to create an intellectual history of the era. “I’ve read some 150 of them thus far, and even that is just a fraction of the Trump canon,” he writes. “One of the ironies of our time is that a man who rarely reads, preferring the rage of cable news and Twitter for hours each day, has propelled an onslaught of book-length writing about his presidency.” The author serves up a readers’ guide to a literature that is ever growing—and that will grow further with future memoirs (“Don McGahn, Robert Mueller, Kirstjen Nielsen, and Anthony Fauci rank highest on my wish list”). Some of the books are “insufferable” while others are essential. Lozada lists the top dozen at the end of his meta-analysis, one of them the Mueller Report. Some of the books are less about Trump than about the culture that produced him—e.g., J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, Jennifer Silva’s We’re Still Here, and Jonathan Metzl’s Dying of Whiteness. By Lozada’s account, Hillbilly Elegy is less important than Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash. There are books of worship and clubby belonging (“most Trump sycophants do not even pretend that Trump should be—or wants to be—a leader for all Americans"), books of qualified demerit (Mueller), books by apostates such as David Frum (who writes that Trump’s refusal to take any responsibility for the pandemic is “likely to be history’s epitaph on his presidency”), books by worshippers like Newt Gingrich, and, of course, books by Trump’s ghostwriters.

A nimble overview of the library of Trumpiana, which is likely to grow no matter what the outcome of the 2020 election.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982145-62-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

SO HELP ME GOD

The former vice president reflects warmly on the president whose followers were encouraged to hang him.

Pence’s calm during the Trump years has been a source of bemusement, especially during the administration’s calamitous demise. In this bulky, oddly uncurious political memoir, Pence suggests the source of his composure is simple: frequent prayer and bottomless patience for politicking. After a relatively speedy recap of his personal and political history in Indiana—born-again Christian, conservative radio host, congressman, governor—he remembers greeting the prospect of serving under Trump with enthusiasm. He “was giving voice to the desperation and frustration caused by decades of government mismanagement,” he writes. Recounting how the Trump-Pence ticket won the White House in 2016, he recalls Trump as a fundamentally hardworking president, albeit one who often shot from the hip. Yet Pence finds Trump’s impulsivity an asset, setting contentious foreign leaders and Democrats off-balance. Soon they settled into good cop–bad cop roles; he was “the gentler voice,” while “it was Trump’s job to bring the thunder.” Throughout, Pence rationalizes and forgives all sorts of thundering. Sniping at John McCain? McCain never really took the time to understand him! Revolving-door staffers? He’s running government like a business! That phone call with Ukraine’s president? Overblown! Downplaying the threat Covid-19 presented in early 2020? Evidence, somehow, of “the leadership that President Trump showed in the early, harrowing days of the pandemic.” But for a second-in-command to such a disruptive figure, Pence dwells little on Trump’s motivations, which makes the story’s climax—Trump’s 2020 election denials and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection—impossible for him to reconcile. How could such a selfless patriot fall under the sway of bad lawyers and conspiracy theorists? God only knows. Chalk it up to Pence's forgiving nature. In the lengthy acknowledgments he thanks seemingly everybody he’s known personally or politically; but one name’s missing.

Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 9781982190330

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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