The Divider

by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser

Kirkus The insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, was no anomaly but instead “the inexorable culmination of a sustained four-year war on the institutions and traditions of American democracy.” New York Times reporter Baker and New Yorker staffer Glasser are no admirers of Donald Trump or his MAGA agenda, the latter of which they hold to be a cynical non-ideology defined mostly by opposition: Anything Barack Obama might have deemed good, Trump deems bad. When Trump became president in 2016, the “Axis of Adults” surrounding him hoped fervently that he would develop a coherent doctrine that could be supported and reinforced by key staff members. They were soon disabused of that sensible notion. Trump did not learn, did not change, and did not budge. He ruled by division, and his base was an us-versus-them proposition, his White House an arena of roiling rivalries; everyone took part in the scheming. The authors are particularly good when they bring Melania Trump onto the stage. It’s a guilty pleasure to watch Melania maneuver Ivanka out of photographic shoots and remove her from guest lists. Trump, thin-skinned as only a self-doubting narcissist can be, was well aware of how disliked he was. As Baker and Glasser note, in his years in office he “would never go out to a restaurant in Washington that was not owned by his company,” knowing he would otherwise be booed and heckled. That did not deter Trump from playing his zero-sum games, and it ended with the only time a president refused to transfer power peaceably. Unfortunately, he left another legacy: Although Trump was “the most politically unsuccessful occupant of the White House in generations,” he altered the political landscape in such a way that “the Trump era is not past; it is America’s present and maybe even its future.” A scorched-earth account of an utterly failed presidency. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Married journalists Baker and Glasser follow up The Man Who Ran Washington with a comprehensive and scathing chronicle of the Trump administration. Contending that the January 6 Capitol riot was “the culmination of a sustained, four-year war on the institutions and traditions of American democracy,” the authors deliver a blow-by-blow account of that assault as it unfolded. Familiar themes emerge: a White House riven by rivalries and factions from day one (Reince Priebus v. Steve Bannon; Kellyanne Conway v. everybody); an astonishingly ill-informed and erratic president constrained by an “Axis of Adults” (whose own “pettiness... suggested a middle school cafeteria”); the “unique symbiosis” between Fox News and Trump; Republican lawmakers and conservative activists swallowing their distaste for the president in order to advance their own agendas. But Baker and Glasser, enriching their own reporting with the juiciest material from the slew of books about the Trump presidency, fashion a coherent narrative out of the chaos, offering lucid and insightful accounts of the Muslim travel ban, talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, the Mueller investigation, Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, both impeachment trials, and more. There’s also plenty of color, including a “pumped up” Trump “sucking down Diet Cokes and chomping on a Hershey’s chocolate bar” as he awaited the reaction to FBI director James Comey’s firing. The result is the most encyclopedic account of the Trump presidency yet published. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Baker, chief White House correspondent for the New York Times, and New Yorker staffer Glasser yank aside the curtain on the Trump White House, aiming to provide a thoroughgoing history embedded with new information and insights, from the shock beginning to the violent end. Their main argument: Trump spent four years seeking to emulate the foreign autocrats he so admired.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

204 East Main Klemme, IA 50449  |  Phone: 641-587-2369
Powered by: YouSeeMore © The Library Corporation (TLC)