Rage by Bob Woodward. Simon & Schuster, $27.95.
For all of the books out there on Trump, Bob Woodward’s reporting will most likely be the must-read for readers in the future who want to revisit the chaotic administration — either for the sake of rubbernecking a wild four years of the U.S. or as a nostalgic trip in case we’re in an even worse place. I mean, people thought Nixon and Reagan were the bottom of the pit at one time.
Whereas Woodward’s first book on Trump, Fear, was based on interviews with administration officials, Rage is in two sections. In one part of the book Woodward’s sources are officials and documents, like the masterfully written love letters between Trump and Kim Jong-un. The second part is basically an interview with Trump that illustrates the techniques Woodward uses, or tries to use, to get Trump to talk policy. The result is a portrait of Trump that removes the noise he often uses to mask his incompetence. In short, the book is about the beginning of the end for the 45th president, because if it weren’t for his fumbling of COVID-19, it is very likely he would’ve won re-election. — Henry Houston
Traitor by David Rothkopf. Thomas Dunn Books, $27.99.
Yeah, yeah, I know, this seems like another Donald Trump book. And we have stacks of those spanning the last four years. And people are a little sick of hearing about him. But while Traitor does feature the (almost) former president, the book really explores beyond it, showcasing an entire history of betrayal in America. From Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr during the Revolutionary War era to Confederate soldiers and Andrew Johnson, author David Rothkopf uses the ways history has judged past American betrayal as a framework for how Trump will be seen years from now. This is a great book for someone who is interested in learning how Trump relates to others in the country’s history and, though he is perhaps one of the worst, he certainly won’t be the last. — Taylor Perse
Alt-Right Gangs: A Hazy Shade of White by Shannon E. Reid and Matthew Valasik, University of California Press. $27.99
If people didn’t know what a Proud Boy was during the Black Lives Matter-related protests, they sure learned about the right wing group when President Donald Trump told them to “stand back and stand by.” Associate professors Shannon E. Reid of University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and Matthew Valasik of Louisiana State University dig into more than a century of gang literature to make sense of alt-right gangs such as the Proud Boys. Sure, it’s a dense read because of its academic nature, but the authors engage with fascinating literature regarding alt-right gang operations (for example, to officially join the Proud Boys, recruits must refrain from masturbation and undergo a “cereal beating” where Proud Boys beat up applicants as they try to name cereals). Groups like Proud Boys are not like white power organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, so the book explores ways to address the alt-right gang movement. In other words, it’s a book that people from the Oregon Capitol building to the classroom and everywhere in between should pick up because the alt-right gang movement is alive and well in the state. — Henry Houston