Editor’s Note: This is the second of a three-part series reviewing the many books written about the unforgettable 2016 presidential election.
There has never been a political story as juicy as the presidential election of 2016. There were so many angles to cover, so much outrage, so many entirely unprecedented narratives, and an outcome that sent shockwaves across the planet.
And so it’s no wonder that so many authors have weighed in with books about that election, many of which will make lovely Christmas gifts. To assist your holiday gift matrix (isn’t that what everyone uses now?), we present our award winners, as judged by one man who has read almost all of them – the good, the bad, and of course, the ugly (lots of those).
In the first part of this series, we handed out awards for the best page-turner, Donna Brazile’s Hacks, the best pro-Trump book, Game of Thorns, and the best anti-Trump volume, Unbelievable by NBC’s Katy Tur. Today, we offer up four more awards.
BEST OBJECTIVE ANALYSIS: Defying the Odds, by James W. Ceaser, Andrew E. Busch, and John J. Pitney Jr.
This is the latest in a series of books by these authors on every presidential campaign dating back to 1992. In an election which generated unparallelled passion – most of it negative among all but the most rock-solid Trumpists and Clintonistas – the authors attempt to analyze the election dispassionately.
Both short and long views of political history are offered in a book that is informative, objective and surprisingly breezy given its weighty topic and challenging goal of describing the almost indescribable.
BEST UNBIASED REPORTING: Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, by Jonathan Allen & Amie Parnes
The authors, both mainstream journalists, effectively do in this volume what reporters are supposed to do: report the facts free of their own political beliefs. Though one realizes through small turns of phrase over the course of the book that they are liberal, if not leftist, they make few value judgments.
And it is quite a set of facts they offer up: insider stories and anecdotes that bring to life the myriad subplots that drew attention during a seemingly interminable campaign which exhausted and drained the American electorate.
This book would finish runner-up for best campaign page-turner.
BEST PURE PROPAGANDA: The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution, by Roger Stone
Roger Stone is, well, Roger Stone. Nothing is light, airy or non-conspiratorial for this shadowy figure and quasi-fixer who always seems to find his way into the spotlight (even that of Special Counsel Robert Mueller), from the days of Richard Nixon all the way forward to today. He is a bomb-thrower, and most everything in this book is laced with dark descriptions of the Clintons’ criminal behavior going all the way back to their time in Arkansas.
But even more notable is the credit Stone takes for Trump’s rise. He claims to have known as early as the 1990’s that Trump would one day become President, and further claims to have influenced him profoundly as he decided with each passing presidential election whether or not to run, among other things. Humility and balance are not the trademarks of his work.
For those of you who are avid readers of presidential election history, this is the same name but not the same author as the original Making of the President series. The deceased author of that landmark series, Theodore White, wrote about six consecutive elections from 1960 to 1980.
This volume is an entirely different animal, and would finish runner-up in the most self-serving category.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, by Joel Pollak
Given that it is authored by the Senior-Editor-At-Large for Breitbart News, you know right up front that this book will make Trump look good and Clinton bad. But what about the content? Well, Joel Pollak did some excellent reporting during the campaign, but his book falls well short of a recommended read. In fact, it was so terrible I quit reading after about 50 pages. It is rambling, disjointed, often incoherent, and appears to be pieced together awkwardly from his various campaign articles. Mr. Pollak might have been well-served to take more time in writing this book instead of rushing it into the market.
In the final part of this series tomorrow, we’ll rate a trio of anti-Trump volumes. One we term “the sour grapes special,” another the most unfunny attempt to be funny, and finally, the piece de resistance, the most-self serving book of them all…written by the losing candidate.