Red meat for politics watchers, unsparing in its depiction of a time of torment.



Newsworthy look at the last months of the Trump White House and the first of the Biden administration.

Early in the pages of this hard-hitting account by New York Times reporters Martin and Burns, the Democratic chair of the House Armed Services Committee voices doubt that Donald Trump was interested in or even capable of mounting a coup, adding, “my perception is, he is a fucking moron.” The events of Jan. 6, 2021, told a different story. Trump had never even bothered to pretend that he governed for all Americans, instead cultivating a reactionary, rural, White base and an ethos within the White House that followed “the logic of a protection racket, more or less.” That Joe Biden won while Republicans gained seats in Congress speaks to the ineptitude of Trump and company. Still, as the authors observe, Biden has had difficulty shaping a coherent message, some of it perhaps caused by his initial uncertainty about whether his running mate was right for the job. “During the primary,” write the authors, “Biden privately and repeatedly shared versions of a common observation about [Kamala] Harris: She doesn’t seem to know who she wants to be.” Martin and Burns deliver plenty of news, such as Lindsey Graham’s demand that Trump call off the Capitol rioters or face the invocation of the 25th Amendment. The authors also offer nuanced portraits of some of the key players in this saga: Mitch McConnell, ever exercising a political calculus by which he could deem Trump a “despicable human being” yet twice vote against impeaching him; Kevin McCarthy, so hungry for power that he allowed that Trump bore responsibility for the coup attempt yet rushed to declare fealty to the boss; Lisa Murkowski, who expressed wonder that so many Americans believe the 2020 election was stolen and questions that calculus of McConnell’s, saying of the impeachment vote, “I wish that it had been different.”

Red meat for politics watchers, unsparing in its depiction of a time of torment.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982172-48-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.


A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.


The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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