A must-read. The gun’s not quite smoking, but the barrel’s plenty hot, and there are Russian shell casings all around.

AMERICAN KOMPROMAT

HOW THE KGB CULTIVATED DONALD TRUMP, AND RELATED TALES OF SEX, GREED, POWER, AND TREACHERY

Is Donald Trump a Russian asset? Yes, according to longtime president-watcher and journalist Unger, who builds on and extends the case he built in House of Trump, House of Putin.

It’s not news that well before becoming president, Trump revealed himself to be “a tyrant who had mesmerized tens of millions of people, and that it didn’t matter to them what he said or did”—or that he has long been suspected of owing a profound debt to Russia and that the place to look for it is in the tax returns he keeps hidden. Unger’s book is valuable primarily because he connects any number of loose ends, even if the result may sound like a conspiracy theory. Point 1: Trump owes Russia big, and while in office, he was ever eager to please. Point 2: Russia began to cultivate him long before the Soviet Union collapsed. Point 3: It all comes down to money. Point 4: There are connections among Opus Dei, the Trump administration, and the “world of decadence and depravity tied to figures like Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.” Unger links all of this to what CIA sources call the “Monster Plot,” which posits that Russia placed an asset or agent “at the very top” of the U.S. government to make it collapse. Trump was ideal. As one Russian handler noted, “in terms of his personality…the guy is not a complicated cookie, his most important characteristics being low intellect coupled with hyperinflated vanity. This combination makes him a dream for an experienced recruiter.” The believability of Unger’s case lies less in these points laid bare than in the fact that one can see them in abundant evidence in the actions of Trump and his allies, from leaving Syria to Russia to packing the Supreme Court and Justice Department with right-wing Catholics—nefarious work that will take years to undo even as Trump continues to attempt to bring about “the end of democracy.”

A must-read. The gun’s not quite smoking, but the barrel’s plenty hot, and there are Russian shell casings all around.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18253-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

Did you like this book?

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

LIBERALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS

The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more