I finished Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House a while back. It was an entertaining soap opera, dishing out the scorn for Trump, but ultimately, it was just kind of like familiar, comforting pop music, where everything is predictable, you already know all the words, and you’re later going to recollect it as an annoying earworm.
Last night I finished a much better book: David Neiwert’s Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. It’s better written, and it has a more powerful focus. Instead of gossiping about that deplorable scamp in the White House, it’s all about the deplorable electorate that put him there: the right-wing militias that freely trample on the law, the fanatics who cover their cars with slogans, the thugs who are thrilled with Trump’s tacit endorsement of violence against brown people, the Nazis who were orgasming over his election. Wolff’s book makes our current situation seem like an aberration driven by a few horrible people; Neiwert’s tells us that no, there’s something rotten lurking in the heart of America that is making Republican criminality possible.
One book’s message implies that all we need to do is get rid of a few clowns at the top, and the True America will come shining through. The other tells you that the True America has a lot of human infrastructure that needs repair. It sure would be nice if all of our problems could be embodied in one gibbering orange hemorrhoid that could be neatly excised from the body politic, but you know deep down that that is not true. Maybe you should read a book that confronts the realities of our situation.