Journalist Hoffman (The Last Wild Men of Borneo) recounts his experiences at eight Trump rallies held between October 2019 and January 2020 in this vivid yet somewhat shallow sociological study. Hoffman has a keen sense for such ironies as the blaring of Village People songs “in an arena of fundamentalist Christians who thought homosexuality a sin,” and enriches his descriptions of the rallies with incisive sketches of rural American towns hollowed out by the decline of family farms and lucrative blue-collar jobs and “surrounded by lines and lines of chain stores.” Yet interviews with attendees, including a former strip club owner who’s been to nearly 60 rallies, a mortgage broker who thinks Trump is “heaven-sent,” and multiple people who subscribe to the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, reveal little of substance. Hoffman also delves into the psychology of crowds, makes comparisons to Nazi Germany, rebukes the Republican establishment for its submissiveness, and holds out hope that “the end of American exceptionalism” brought about by Trump’s rise to power will provide “an opportunity for wisdom.” The result is both an intriguing portrait of a political phenomenon and a missed opportunity to go beyond the stereotypes of Trump loyalists. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/29/2020 Release date: 09/01/2020 Genre: Nonfiction
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