A polemical but well-researched assessment of the 45th president.


A critical analysis of the style, rhetoric, and poor management style of President Donald Trump.

Disheartened by the results of the 2016 election and first two years of Trump’s presidency, debut author Elliott, a retired journalism professor at Indiana University centers his criticisms in this book less on the president’s policy, but rather on his acerbic rhetoric and personality. The author hails the styles of past Republican and Democratic presidents, but he asserts that Trump has denigrated the presidency through unethical behavior, “narcissistic flair, missteps, misstatement, and actions that do not reflect the country’s heritage or current needs.” Each chapter reads like an extended, well documented op-ed piece and focuses on a particular character flaw in the president, highlighting careless tweets, unethical conduct, and incompetent cabinet appointments of business cronies and family members. Elliott hopes that all readers, whatever their ideology, will recognize the president’s unprecedented behavior and, in the words of his hyperbolic subtitle, “Wake Up” before “Armageddon” occurs—defined as the “desecration of the principles on which our country was established.” Elliott devotes a closing chapter to journalists, imploring them to maintain their integrity as they report unethical behavior and highlight the myriad ways that Trump diverges from presidential norms. The author is uncompromising in his disdain for Trump, and he occasionally takes potshots at the president’s intelligence, but he also provides a cogent, levelheaded, and amply documented critique. However, he has a tendency to overplay metaphors, spending almost an entire chapter comparing Trump’s administration to The Wizard of Oz and multiple pages comparing the president’s campaign strategy to a game of chess. Although the author deliberately avoids discussing specific policy, left-leaning readers might argue that Trump’s personal failings pale beside his policies on immigration, abortion, and foreign affairs. Likewise, many on the right would hail the very rhetoric that Elliott condemns as a fresh break from an overly “politically correct” culture. An analysis of these sociopolitical forces, which extend well beyond Trump, would have been useful to contextualize his presidency.

A polemical but well-researched assessment of the 45th president.

Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5320-6201-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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