Anger- and outrage-filled dispatches from a Russian-born writer.
Raised under a dictatorship, Iossel (English and Creative Writing/Concordia Univ.; Every Hunter Wants to Know: A Leningrad Life, 1991, etc.), winner of Guggenheim, NEA, and Stegner fellowships, immigrated to the U.S. in 1986 and became a citizen in 1996. His unique perspective as an immigrant from the Soviet Union distinguishes his blistering critiques, collected from Facebook posts, of Donald Trump from many other recent anti-Trump books. The author follows American politics from Election Day 2016 through October 2018, witnessing events such as Charlottesville, the Las Vegas and Parkland shootings, Al Franken’s resignation, Trump’s negotiations with North Korea, and Robert Mueller’s investigation. Repeatedly, Iossel characterizes Trump as a liar, racist, bigot, con artist, “ignorant buffoon,” “an empty-headed, ridiculously narcissistic, sociopathic man-child” unable “to love anyone or anything,” and dangerously impulsive. “Welcome to the dark times, the age of dishonesty and mendacity, unbridled avarice and ignorance, bigotry and traitorousness—and, above all, the age of the dumb in America,” Iossel wrote on Inauguration Day. Incredulous at the outcome of the election, he was despondent that America was “unable to resist the virus of fascism” that infected other Western countries; he is certain that Putin and other Russian oligarchs, aiming to undermine American democracy, achieved the “pleasant surprise” of Trump’s win. The author has no doubt that Trump is in thrall to Putin, “a former low-level KGB functionary, and professional liar and snitch, catcher of damaged human souls…an ignorant, none-too-sophisticated, remarkably vengeful and cruel, amoral and corrupt” man. Like Trump, he is greedy, ambitious, and “firmly in the grip of raging megalomania.” Yet Iossel knows that a minority of voters supported Trump. “Trumpland,” he concedes, “is not the ‘real’ America. It is the worst of America”: racist, xenophobic, ignorant, small-minded, and cynical. If the nation holds onto its decency, the author believes, it will survive Trump.
A vigorous call for Americans to defeat “the stubborn virus of trumpism in its bloodstream.”