A book that won’t change minds but that will give anti-Trumpers plenty of grist for the mill.

In which the characters of the sitting president and his followers are weighed and found seriously wanting.

“Anyone who has had a serious ‘discussion’ with a Trump supporter may have noticed that facts and logic bounce off right off them.” So write Dean—yes, that Dean, still going strong nearly half a century after Watergate—and Altemeyer, a Canadian psychologist who developed the RWA [right-wing authoritarianism] Scale. That RWA test, among other measures, helps explain a great deal about Trump’s supporters, whose numbers might seem to be dwindling but whose convictions grow ever stronger. Those who score high on the RWA instrument are revealed to believe in a welter of confusing and contradictory matters, have considerable difficulty in sorting fact from fiction, and have no problem with double standards. “Take their ready acceptance of Trump’s labeling Hillary Clinton as Crooked Hillary" when Trump's actions regarding charities in New York state "was so illegal that the state has banned him from ever operating a charity in New York again. Thus, there is no doubt about Trump being Crooked Donald, who has single-handedly given charity a bad name." That doesn’t faze the pro-Trump crowd, who give him a free pass precisely because, according to the test, they are fearful that their world is disintegrating and are in need of a strongman to protect them from a host of imagined evils. By the authors' account, Trump is nothing but a chain of personality flaws (“His driveway has not reached the main road for a long, long time”) that he learned at the feet of his master, Roy Cohn, and secondarily from Richard Nixon, such lessons as “if you have a vulnerability, tell everybody your opponent reeks of it.” Whether Trump gains a second term or not, the authors conclude, the strong authoritarian base that exists in the country guarantees continued polarization for years to come.

A book that won’t change minds but that will give anti-Trumpers plenty of grist for the mill.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61219-905-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Melville House

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020


A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.

An insider’s account of the rampant misconduct within the Trump administration, including the tumult surrounding the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.

Hutchinson, who served as an assistant to Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, gained national prominence when she testified to the House Select Committee, providing possibly the most damaging portrait of Trump’s erratic behavior to date. In her hotly anticipated memoir, the author traces the challenges and triumphs of her upbringing in New Jersey and the work (including a stint as an intern with Sen. Ted Cruz) that led her to coveted White House internships and eventual positions in the Office of Legislative Affairs and with Meadows. While the book offers few big reveals beyond her testimony (many details leaked before publication), her behind-the-scenes account of the chaotic Trump administration is intermittently insightful. Her initial portrait of Trump is less critical than those written by other former staffers, as the author gauges how his actions were seemingly stirred more by vanity and fear of appearing weak, rather than pure malevolency. For example, she recalls how he attended an event without a mask because he didn’t want to smear his face bronzer. Hutchinson also provides fairly nuanced portraits of Meadows and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who, along with Trump, eventually turned against her. She shares far more negative assessments about others in Trump’s orbit, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and adviser Rudy Giuliani, recounting how Giuliani groped her backstage during Trump’s Jan. 6 speech. The narrative lags after the author leaves the White House, but the story intensifies as she’s faced with subpoenas to testify and is forced to undergo deep soul-searching before choosing to sever ties with Trump and provide the incriminating information that could help take him down.

A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9781668028285

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023


A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Black Americans declare their love.

This anthology brings together dozens of love letters by prominent Black Americans. The entries, interspersed with illustrations, address an eclectic mix of topics arranged under five categories: Care, Awe, Loss, Ambivalence, and Transformation. In their introduction, editors Brown and Johnson note the book’s inspiration in the witnessing of violence directed at Black America. Reckonings with outrage and grief, they explain, remain an urgent task and a precondition of creating and sustaining loving bonds. The editors seek to create “a site for our people to come together on the deepest, strongest emotion we share” and thus open “the possibility for shared deliverance” and “carve out a space for healing, together.” This aim is powerfully realized in many of the letters, which offer often poignant portrayals of where redemptive love has and might yet be found. Among the most memorable are Joy Reid’s “A Love Letter to My Hair,” a sensitive articulation of a hard-won sense of self-love; Morgan Jerkins’ “Dear Egypt,” an exploration of a lifelong passion for an ancient world; and VJ Jenkins’ “Pops and Dad,” an affirmation that it “is beautiful to be Black, to be a man, and to be gay.” Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Home: A Reckoning” is particularly thoughtful and incisive in its examination of a profound attachment, “in the best and worst ways,” to Louisville, Kentucky. Most of the pieces pair personal recollections with incisive cultural commentary. The cumulative effect of these letters is to set forth a panorama of opportunities for maintaining the ties that matter most, especially in the face of a cultural milieu that continues to produce virulent forms of love’s opposite. Other contributors include Nadia Owusu, Jamila Woods, Ben Crump, Eric Michael Dyson, Kwame Dawes, Jenna Wortham, and Imani Perry.

A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781638931201

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Get Lifted Books/Zando

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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