Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump’s War on the World’s Most Powerful Office

Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (404p) ISBN 978-0-374-17536-8
Hennessey and Wittes (The Future of Violence), editors of national security website Lawfare, deliver a penetrating partisan analysis of President Trump’s first term in office. Part catalogue of current events, part historical study, the book draws unflattering comparisons between Trump and former presidents, including George Washington, whose statement condemning the razing of a Cherokee town by Georgia settlers in 1792 is set alongside Trump’s comment there were “very fine people—on both sides” of a 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a white supremacist killed a counterprotester. Hennessey and Wittes illuminate how the constitutional system of checks and balances has stymied Trump’s “processless brand of decision-making,” noting that his first two executive orders restricting travel to the U.S. from Muslim-majority countries were struck down by federal courts, and recounting instances in which officials in the State and Justice departments contradicted presidential statements. The book’s wealth of factoids (“President Grover Cleveland answered the White House telephone each time it rang”) and keen insights into Trump’s character (“a man who wore his propensity to abuse power on his sleeve”) provide much food for thought. Liberals and independent-minded readers of presidential histories will savor this thorough, lucidly written account. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/15/2019
Release date: 01/21/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-1-250-78567-1
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