Book Review: A searing tale of Trump’s America

American beckons the world with its ‘American dream’. Very few people know of the other side of the America, which is not so glamorous, where terrible inequality exists and where rising poverty, racism, gun control and health care issues have polarised the country.

The book Democracy in Peril brings the unseemly truths of the American society and tells a vivid story of democracy, “that is under siege, institutions being threatened and demeaned by the Trump presidency”.

The heart of the book lies in looking at the underlying reasons for the current state of American society, and an assessment of the nation in the wake of the election of a new American president, at a time of great global economic and geopolitical uncertainty, in a world fraught with danger. The book examines how did America get here, and how to get out of this situation?

Author Alan Friedman is a journalist and best-selling author who has also worked as television producer and documentary filmmaker. In the past few years, the author has interviewed many world leaders including Donal Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Silvio Berlusconi. This book also provides a reading of those personalities and is an account of those interactions and inferences on authoritarian rulers.

He writes about Trump stating, “He is a conversation hopper, a schmoozer who is in love with the sound of his own voice and a man who seems to find it hard to focus for more than a few minutes on any single issues.

I remember thinking that his relatively brief attention span, like his out-sized personality and the way he tends to filter much of the world through the prism of his own ego, are traits not at all dissimilar to those of other self-made billionaires and oligarchs I had met in my travels.” You will come across many such strong references and criticisms of other global leaders in the book.

The author also tries to understand the Trump phenomenon by talking to the common citizens who elected him. He hears a friendly Texan saying, “…whether you agree with them or not, they talk straight, they speak their mind, and they talk in plain language, not like the normal politicians who gives speeches and ya never know what they really mean”.

Most political leaders give speeches. Trump ‘talks’ to his supporters, he converses with the electorate. He is in many ways the exact opposite of Hillary Clinton, the policy wonk, the author suggests.

Do pick this book if you want to intimately understand today’s America’s trials and tribulations. The book has chapters on the issues plaguing America today. You may not agree with the authors’ assessments fully but nevertheless it is a provocative book examining the darker side of “authoritarian approach” and “illiberal democracy” and its repercussion for the Americans and the world. The book is 300 pages and easy to read. It unravels the social and political churn in America today. The book is unsparing on Trump Presidency and a world that’s turned upside down.

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