An intelligent, witty perspective on the Trump years.

I TOLD YOU SO!

DONAL TRUMP: THE AWFUL YEARS

A veteran columnist chronicles the Donald Trump administration.

Even with his seasoned career as a senior producer for multiple PBS election specials and chief political correspondent of The Week Behind since 1995, nothing could prepare Connolly for the unprecedented nature of Donald Trump’s presidency. In this edited compilation of Connolly’s commentary, readers can relive the tumultuous Trump presidency through the lens of a battle-hardened political observer. From its opening page, which begins with a 2012 Sarasota County, Florida, “Statesmen of the Year Award,” the dissonance of Trump becomes wildly apparent, as the then-host of The Apprentice lambasted the media and political establishment for its unfair, “terrible” treatment of Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton—two figures he would himself harangue just four years later during his successful presidential campaign. Connolly’s smart, acerbic commentary walks readers through the Trump presidency, with concise editorials on the 2016 campaign, impeachment, mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic, post-election tantrums that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, and more. Unsurprisingly, Trump presents as “mean, stupid, selfish…and unfit to be president.” Moreover, Connolly reminds readers that the ideologically nondescript Trump himself only took stances that favored his political or financial endeavors. On climate change, for instance, Trump fought “tooth and nail” against proposed wind turbines adjacent to his golf courses yet was equally passionate about building seawalls on an eroding Irish coast that threatened his property. While mostly centered on Trump, Connolly’s commentary also provides insights into his sycophants, like Sean Hannity, and rivals, like Hillary Clinton. Without minimizing the grave consequences of Trump’s actions, Connolly successfully balances astute analysis with humor. Ample altered images and other gags (such as a mock letter from Trump to Biden left in the Oval Office) complement this approach. Like all political commentary, particularly that which is read retrospectively, readers of all ideological persuasions will find passages that they politically disagree with, but many would likely agree that Connolly is a shrewd observer.

An intelligent, witty perspective on the Trump years.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2002

ISBN: 978-1-87-965229-3

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Dead Tree Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

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PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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