cover image The Storm Is Here: An American Crucible

The Storm Is Here: An American Crucible

Luke Mogelson. Penguin Press, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-48921-5

The clash of right and left during 2020 reveals America’s blighted soul in this vivid account. New Yorker writer Mogelson (These Heroic, Happy Dead) interviews rifle-toting militiamen protesting Michigan’s lockdown measures, documents violent demonstrations in Minneapolis and Portland, Ore., after the killing of George Floyd, and mingles with “Stop the Steal” protestors in Washington, D.C. The book’s climax is an impressionistic, firsthand account of the January 6 Capitol riot: “Each time the mob heaved, it lifted me off my feet. One of the people I was pressed against wore a helmet, a gas mask, and an army combat uniform with a patch that read ‘Armor of God.’ ” Unabashed about his own political leanings, Mogelson paints rightists mainly as QAnon zealots and covert racists, and sympathizes with leftists who defend the burning of a Wells Fargo in Minneapolis and other acts of property destruction as blows for racial and social justice. While noting some excesses, he praises antifascists for being willing to put their bodies on the line against the Proud Boys and other alt-right extremists. Unfortunately, some of Mogelson’s rehashes are selective and misleading: Breonna Taylor was not killed “in her bed,” but died in her hallway after her boyfriend fired once at police. The result is a colorful but biased study of American extremism. Agent: Alice Whitwham, Cheney Agency. (Sept.)