Who would have thought I would pine for the days of George W. Bush? Given the catastrophe that has been the Trump administration, one may forgive me for looking back at a presidency that, while hardly what most historians would consider “good,” showed at least the faintest glimmer of human decency and respect for the American people. The same cannot be said for the current administration, a situation that has led to numerous book-length assessments of the president and his followers during his first year in office.
Today, two books are being released by two very different journalists, both of which chronicle the rotten state of our times. While there may not be abundant cause for hope, these authors give voice to the problems and at least suggest acceptable paths forward.
It’s Even Worse than You Think by David Cay Johnston: Few journalists have done more to expose Trump’s dealings than Johnston (The Making of Donald Trump, 2016, etc.), who has been following Trump’s misadventures for more than three decades. Early on in his new book, he states what many understand, that “the Trump presidency is about Trump. Period. Full stop.” As our reviewer notes, while this litany of misdeeds and malfeasance is “thoroughly depressing,” it is also “urgent, necessary reading, at least for those who aren’t true believers in the Trumpite cause.”
Trumpocracy by David Frum: One of the countless conservatives who recognize the dangers of the Trump presidency, Frum rightly castigates the administration but also shares plenty of well-deserved ire for the spineless Republican establishment. As our reviewer writes, “what bothers Frum is less the specter of a buffoonish bully than the acquiescence of the Republican Party….Evenhanded, ideologically consistent, and guaranteed to generate a slew of angry tweets should a copy land at the White House.”
And for any of the remaining traditional Republicans out there longing for the days of the Bush dynasty, check out Mark K. Updegrove’s The Last Republicans, published in November. Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor.