Fear: Trump in the White House and Democracy in Chains

  Fear  Democracy in Chains  

Fear: Trump in the White House


Democracy in Chains


short reviews


I usually refrain from reading about politics. But recently, two books called my attention:
Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward,
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, by Nancy MacLean.
Click on the book covers to know more about them

One day, I saw the name Nancy MacLean treading on Twitter. I was curious who she could be and ended up listening to her book, published a year ago. The reason she was trending now was that the night before, she had been invited at a TV show – I don’t have TV and didn’t know about that.

MacLean’s book was very enlightening, showing how the current situation in American politics has roots back in the 1950s.
She also talks at large about school segregation, based both on races and money. Enormous college fees are one aspect of efforts made to limit education to the wealthy. Scary.

Even more scary is MacLean’s presentation of where the Koch brothers’ ideas are coming from and what Libertarians are all about. I was curious to see exactly what they wanted to change in the current U.S. Constitution, and are supposedly close to realizing, but unfortunately, I didn’t find these details explicitly mentioned, even though that’s what I had heard advertised about the book.

Despite this absence of details in this specific point, I thought the book was a fascinating research on the origin of what’s going on now. I learned a lot!
Besides, the narrator of the audiobook is very good, with a good pace for nonfiction.


Now to get a closer look at the current situation, I decided to read Fear, only because of the seriousness and reputation of its author.
I was hesitant, thinking I didn’t need to get more depressing details that we already get through the media – even though I avoid most of them.

Actually, I came out of the book (devoured in a couple of sittings) quite admiring of the staff who do all they can to salvage the situation and try to do something with what they have.  This excerpt from page 226 gives a good idea:

Fear p226

Some have criticized actions such as staff members taking a paper off the presidential desk, to be sure a dangerous document would not be signed, and to avoid catastrophic consequences. Indeed these acts don’t seem normal, but the book shows that in desperate situations, desperate acts are needed.

I liked the style of the author, presenting daily vignettes with as much objectivity as possible. The book is extremely documented and tries to just state facts. Quite an unusual and refreshing perspective these days.



11 thoughts on “Fear: Trump in the White House and Democracy in Chains

  1. So far I’ve only read one US politics book and it was Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green. It was insightful yet terrifying. I’m not American, but I like to keep an eye on their politics so now I only listen to Podcasts.
    Maybe I’ll give Fear another look. A lot of these books coming out now aren’t really fact based, so it’s nice to see something that is.


  2. I have not read either one though I plan to read Fear someday when I am not reeling with despair. Woodward was key in saving us from Nixon so I tend to favor him. Great review!


  3. I also don’t read about politics much, but I’m getting more interested, especially in books that are related to politics but aren’t overtly partisan. I’m also working my way through the National Book Awards short list and may tackle the long list next, including Democracy in Chains. It seems like an important read.


    • Your comment sounded like Democracy in Chains was on the longlist of National Book Awards, but it wasn’t. An important book, still. From the longlist, Directorate S is on my TBR. The husband of a student read it and found it very good


  4. Pingback: Nonfiction November: My Year 2018 in Nonfiction | Words And Peace

  5. Great take on this one. I was also impressed (surprisingly so!) at what some of the administration members have been doing to rein in his impulses and educate him about some issues (that part seems like an uphill battle). I especially liked the explanations about the importance of trade, I thought those were particularly well framed here, although they seemed to fall on deaf ears.


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