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A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era

by Carlos Lozada

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-982145-62-0
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

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.