Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part series reviewing the many books written about the unforgettable 2016 presidential election.
Once in a lifetime.
We said that about the 2000 presidential election when 537 votes in a single state ultimately landed George W. Bush in the White House. And we repeated it about 2008 when America made history by electing its first black President. But let’s be honest: while we could have razor-thin election margins and black presidents in the future, we will certainly never again see the likes of the 2016 election.
That incredible campaign resulted in the rise of a populist/nationalist movement and the most entirely, totally, completely out-of-the-box President in American history – both completely defying conventional analysis.
Both sides believed the very future of America was at stake – and now, after an outcome which confounded the experts and divided the nation more than any time since the Civil War, roughly half the country believes we were saved from hell, while the other half believes we have gone straight to Armageddon.
Whether you celebrate or mourn the outcome, the high drama was undeniable and inescapable, and that’s why there have been so many books written about that unforgettable campaign. And at the risk of appearing obsessed, narrow or both, I admit to reading six of them cover-to-cover and starting several others which proved unworthy of completion (hat tip to Amazon for the “sample” feature on Kindle). There are virtually no books on the subject that have escaped my attention, even including several awful volumes rushed out shortly after the election strictly to capitalize on the hottest topic of the decade.
With Christmas on the horizon, it is a safe bet that some of these books will prove to be useful gifts, others not so much. There is something for everyone in this collection — from your Trump-loving friends to those pesky leftists in the family you must endure over the holidays.. Allow me to facilitate some last-minute shopping ideas with one man’s award winners:
BEST PAGE TURNER: Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, by Donna Brazile
The famed Democratic strategist and two-time Chair of the Democratic National Committee, a recent guest on LN Radio and The Uprising, is brutally honest in her assessment of the failed Clinton presidential campaign, and about the impossible task she faced upon taking over the DNC from the disgraced Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in the midst of the campaign. She details how Clinton forces took over the DNC, tied her hands and rendered her almost helpless to rescue a slowly sinking ship, all as fear welled up in her with the murder of a DNC staffer and constant cyber attacks.
Unlike most on the left, Ms. Brazile refuses to engage in vitriolic condemnation of Donald Trump, while still clearly delineating her stark differences with the President on most every issue.
Honest, raw, dramatic, even heartbreaking at times, Hacks should be at or near the top of the list of must-reads for political junkies.
BEST PRO-TRUMP BOOK: Game of Thorns: The Inside Story of Hillary Clinton’s Failed Campaign and Donald Trump’s Winning Strategy, by Doug Wead
If you are comfortable with schadenfreude (basking in another’s misery), this volume offers most every detail of why Hillary was such an awful candidate. It traces Hillary’s history back a quarter of a century to the early years of her husband’s presidency, and “How the scandals of a lifetime finally reached critical mass. How, in the last few days of the campaign, some on her staff saw the ghostly shroud of defeat creeping over them but were helpless to act, frozen by the self-denial of the group.”
It is an engrossing read with a clear pro-Trump point of view.
BEST ANTI-TRUMP BOOK: Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History, by Katy Tur
For those anxious to hear the goriest of details about Trump and his followers, this book by the NBC/MSNBC correspondent who covered the Trump campaign – and was often targeted for verbal abuse by the Donald – will give you ample fodder to advance your argument that the President is a total pig.
As evidenced by the title of the book, Ms. Tur is utterly incredulous at the things Trump said and did during the campaign – and even more so that he got away with it and won. She does not attempt to explain why Trump won, only to describe what she personally experienced. This book is something of a lesser, latter-day version of the definitive work on campaign reportage, Boys on the Bus. Most memorable is her description of being confined in cage-like containment areas with other reporters at Trump campaign events, with howling media-hating Trumpists verbally abusing and threatening her from outside the cage.
This is the perfect volume for those who lean left and wonder if the crudeness of Trump and his campaign’s beatdown on the press were as bad as depicted by the establishment media. Spoiler alert: the author thinks they were that and more.
In part two of this series tomorrow, we’ll rate the 2016 election books with the best objective analysis, the best-unbiased reporting and the best pure propaganda, plus the most disappointing book.