Buy or Deny: 18 Trump Books You Should Consider Reading Before Election Day

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I shouldn’t have written this article. I’m sure many of you are already looking at me sideways, wondering why a Black woman in today’s America would even entertain such a topic. Believe me, I am well aware of how lightly I’ll need to tread here. But I think it is important that as we enter the 2020 election season, we move toward the ballot box armed with as much information about the incumbent as possible.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll stick with the most loudly publicized books about Trump written since 2018, and I’ll base my recommendations on the author's reputation along with my liberal idealism, which should still lead us to a comprehensive list of what’s currently available.


Books By Biographers, Historians, and Investigators

BUY

It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What The Trump Administration Is Doing To America by David Cay Johnston (January 2018)
Johnston’s title says it all, but the thing that I believe readers will find most intriguing is his account of how Don and Eric Trump run a completely transparent blind trust of Trump’s holdings to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest that most surely exists.

Buy It's Worse Than You Think at Bookshop or Amazon

Fear: Trump In The White House by Bob Woodward (September 2018)
With a reporting career that spans nine presidencies, Woodward uses interviews, diaries, and White House documentation to provide a vivid depiction of a President out of his depth. Woodward also has a second book, Rage, coming out on September 15, 2020, which is already generating buzz and should cover the events that have occurred since Fear’s publication, such as the impeachment hearings and the corona virus.

Buy Fear at Bookshop or Amazon

Siege: Trump Under Fire by Michael Wolff (June 2019)
From the author of Fire and Fury (2018) comes an account of Trump’s second year in office as he attempts to find his footing in the midst of impeachment talks and the loss of his most experienced advisors.

Buy Siege at Bookshop or Amazon

You’re Fired, The Perfect Guide To Beating Donald Trump by Paul Begala (August 2020)
As the title would suggest, Begala examines how the Democratic party could dismantle Trump’s key superpower, distraction, to win back Middle America, as well as how each candidate’s stance on health care and the economy could make or break the election.

Buy You're Fired at Bookshop or Amazon

It Was All A Lie: How The Republican Party Became Donald Trump by Stuart Stevens (August 2020)
Stevens outlines how Trump is the natural reaction to fifty years of insincerity, dating back to the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s. However, the book is just as much an apology for a failed government as it is an indictment of the Republican Party.

Buy It Was All A Lie at Bookshop or Amazon

DENY

Blitz: Trump Will Smash the Left And Win by David Horowitz (June 2020)
In keeping with the tone set in his 2017 Trump book, Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America, Horowitz is optimistic that the President will win reelection in November, and uses his book to outline the reasons why. Needless to say, anything that advocates more of the status quo is a big fat: hell no.

Deny Blitz at Bookshop or Amazon

Tell-Alls

BUY

Born Trump: Inside America’s First Family by Emily Jane Fox (June 2018)
Fox is a Vanity Fair reporter whose book focuses on the lives of Trump’s five adult children and the roles they play in his administration. Perfect for anyone looking for dish on Ivanka, Don, Eric, or Jared Kushner.

Buy Born Trump at Bookshop or Amazon

All the President’s Women: Donald Trump And The Making Of A Predator by Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy (October 2019)
Donald Trump managed to sidestep major #MeToo scrutiny despite several allegations of sexual misconduct during his 2016 Presidential bid. This book paints a picture of Trump’s complicated history with women, harking back to his adolescence through the rise of his real estate career and into his political tenure. Told from the women’s POV, this book may prove difficult for some, but it is worth purchasing to expose the only story Trump isn’t willing to tell.

Buy All The President's Women at Bookshop or Amazon

A Warning by Anonymous (November 2019)
This book is the continuation of the September 5, 2018, New York Times op-ed piece written by “a senior official in the Trump administration,” who wanted to expose the instability of White House leadership. Marketed as a scorching behind-the-scenes portrayal that “will surprise and challenge both Democrats and Republicans,” this book was highlighted by Time as one of the Must Read Books of 2019.

Buy A Warning at Bookshop or Amazon

DENY

Full Disclosure by Stormy Daniels and Micheal Avenatti (October 2018)
Daniels gives us her version of the events that resulted in the ill-fated $130,000 nondisclosure agreement, which the President ultimately didn't enforce. As deliciously salacious as all of this sounds, especially when coupled with Daniels’s take on the adult entertainment industry, the juiciest bits were revealed during interviews on shows like The View. Interested parties are better off scouring YouTube for details.

Deny Full Disclosure at Bookshop or Amazon

Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump (July 2020)
Sorry, guys. As fascinating as it initially was to learn that President Trump had unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit to stop his niece from releasing a tell-all book, the 225-page memoir fails to deliver simply because the best stuff was leaked prior to publication. Save your money. Read the key bits on Google. We'll even get you started: Mary thinks the President is a narcissistic sociopath. She believes he paid someone to take his SAT, and she claims that he tried to alter the family’s will in his favor while his father was diagnosed with dementia.

Deny Too Much And Never Enough at Bookshop or Amazon

Books by White House Journalists and Political Pundits

BUY

Media Madness: Donald Trump, The Press, And The War Over The Truth by Howard Kurtz (January 2018)
As the host of Media Buzz on Fox News, Kurtz has the inside scoop on the White House including stories about Steve Bannon warning Trump of impeachment and the President’s tenuous relationship with the network’s Morning Joe hosts. Since the book focuses more on Trump’s relationship with the press than the author’s political agenda, this one is safe for audiences on either side of the isle.

Buy Media Madness at Bookshop or Amazon

Under Fire: Reporting From The Front Lines Of The Trump White House by April Ryan (September 2018)
As a CNN analyst and a White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, Ryan prides herself on asking the hard questions. But she became part of the headlines in February 2017 when she asked Trump whether he planned to share his urban agenda with the Congressional Black Caucus—his response, “You set up the meeting.” This fascinating book highlights how that moment marked the beginning of a strained relationship with Donald Trump (who by November 2018 had resorted to calling her “nasty” and  “a loser”). Worth reading for anyone who wants to know what’s like to be part of our nation’s top press briefings.

Buy Under Fire at Bookshop or Amazon

Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, And Occasional Blackouts Of An Extraordinary Presidency by Major Garrett (September 2018)
With a keen eye that comes from nearly twenty years of reporting on four different administrations, Garrett chronicles the first eighteen months of the President’s time in office. Though clearly not a Trump fan, the book works to place his interviews with current and former White House officials into historical context as well as demonstrate how our unorthodox leader has warped and sometimes demolished traditions and policies that have worked for decades.

Buy Mr. Trump's Wild Ride at Bookshop or Amazon

The Enemy Of The People: A Dangerous Time To Tell The Truth in America by Jim Acosta (June 2019)
Like April Ryan, CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta was denigrated by the President on national TV—although former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took things a step further with Acosta by revoking his press credentials. Based on that introduction to the Trump administration, Acosta frames his book as a battle to preserve First Amendment rights and reports the political machinations of Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer, Hope Hicks, Jared Kushner, and many more. A fantastic account for those curious about the events that spawned Trump’s ongoing disdain for CNN.

Buy The Enemy Of The People at Bookshop or Amazon

A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America by Phillip Rucker and Carol Leonnig (January 2020)
With a title that echoes one of Trump’s favorite sayings about himself, this book examines the President’s behavior during the first three years of his presidency. And since the book is written by the White House Bureau Chief (Rucker) and an investigative journalist from The Washington Post (Leonnig), this is a solid account of our rookie President.

Buy A Very Stable Genius at Bookshop or Amazon

Front Row At The Trump Show by Jonathan Karl (March 2020)
If you want an insider report from a journalist with integrity and unbiased clarity, Karl’s book leads the pack because not only is he the 94th President of the White House Correspondents’ Association, he’s also Chief White House Correspondent for ABC News and is one of the few reporters that Trump trusts despite sometimes referring to Karl as “an enemy of the people.”

Buy Front Row At The Trump Show at Bookshop or Amazon

DENY

The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump by Gregg Jarrett (July 2018)
You might recognize Jarrett as a legal analyst for Fox News, but that isn’t the key reason his book is on the hard pass pile—that distinction goes to his ludicrous claim that the FBI and the Justice Department illicitly conspired to elect Hilary Clinton in 2016. While I am all for a good conspiracy theory, this seems designed to disparage liberals for no other reason than to instill fear and divide our nation.

Deny The Russia Hoax at Bookshop or Amazon

Books by Former Campaigners, Staffers, and Administrators

BUY

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, And Leadership by James Comey (April 2018)
As the former FBI director, Comey has taken part in some of the country’s most interesting cases from overseeing Hilary Clinton’s email investigation to examining the ties between Trump and Russia. His book explores the highest seats of power and questions what makes those roles effective. This is a solid look at our political justice system from a man who's still committed to its tenets.

Buy A Higher Loyalty at Bookshop or Amazon

Let Me Finish: Trump, The Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, And The Power Of In-Your-Face Politics by Chris Christie (January 2019)
Remember, when politicos thought Christie’s early endorsement of Trump could result in a VP nod? Feels like a lifetime ago, but this memoir covers that period by outlining the New Jersey governor’s interactions with the 2016 Republican Presidential nominee in an unintentionally humorous cat and mouse game where Trump asserts his dominance by making Christie grovel in situations where the governor would normally be the big dog in the room.

Buy Let Me Finish at Bookshop or Amazon

The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir by John Bolton (March 2020)
Many journalists have warned the public not to buy John Bolton’s book because he doesn’t deserve to be rewarded for withholding testimony he should have provided months ago. But unlike money-grubbing holdouts like Omarosa, the former national security advisor has a level of overall integrity, as well as access to foreign policy knowledge, that warrants consideration. Plus, his concern about the dangers of what Trump will look like if he wins a second term (and thus no longer have to behave himself for reelection) acts as the tough love wake-up call many apathetic voters could use this November.

Buy The Room Where It Happened at Bookshop or Amazon

Speaking For Myself: Faith, Freedom, And The Fight Of Our Lives Inside The Trump White House by Sarah Huckabee Sanders (September 2020)
As the lead-in for a possible Arkansas governor run, Sanders's book won’t be out until September 8, 2020, so she gains automatic access to my must-read list. Early accounts state she discusses her faith, the challenges of being a working mom, and her relationship with the White House Press Corps during her stint as Trump’s Press Secretary.

Buy Speaking for Myself at Bookshop or Amazon

DENY

The Briefing: Politics, The Press, And The President by Sean Spicer (July 2018)
Spicer discusses his tenure as the White House Press Secretary, how he got there, and his take on some of the biggest stories that occurred in the early days of the Trump administration. However, the book feels superficial since Spicer continues to act as the President’s hype man—describing Trump as “a unicorn, riding a unicorn over a rainbow”—rather than owning his errors and reflecting on his experience in Washington with some much-needed hindsight.

Deny The Briefing at Bookshop or Amazon

Unhinged: An Insider’s Account Of The Trump White House by Omarosa Manigault-Newman (August 2018)
This former Apprentice reality star turned Assistant to the President and Director of Communications has built her career on controversy. Therefore, it came as no surprise that in preparation for writing this book she had recorded many of her White House interactions, including a conversation in the ultra-confidential Situation Room. And yet, that very act of undermining the trust of those around her makes it difficult for us to heed her call for sympathy. Sure, Trump definitely used her as a political puppet for the Black community, but she knew exactly what game she was playing and subverted her mentor’s moves to increase her own fame. Please don’t encourage her by buying this book.

Deny Unhinged at Bookshop or Amazon

Trump, The Blue-Collar President by Anthony Scaramucci (October 2018)
With only 11 days in the White House, Scaramucci isn’t able to deliver much insider information. Nevertheless, like most of Trump’s early castaways, the Mooch sings the President’s praises, calling him a “mensch” and a “charismatic communicator.” Surprisingly, the book takes a sincere crack at explaining Trump’s working class appeal and the last section works hard to throw a few barbs at former staffers Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to redeem the book’s lack of substance.

Deny Trump, The Blue-Collar President at Bookshop or Amazon

Trump and the American Future: Solving The Great Problems Of Our Time by Newt Gingrich (June 2020)
Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, who resigned from Congress in 1999 and ran for President in 2012 then campaigned for Trump in 2016, seeks to examine the stakes of the 2020 election and explain why our President deserves a second term. This is the fourth in a string of books Gingrich has written about our current leader. Unfortunately, the author’s own misdeeds within the political landscape make this book hard to take seriously.

Deny Trump and the American Future at Bookshop or Amazon

Final Thoughts

I realize that in many ways this entire list is massively hypocritical on my part because although my purpose is noble—to help you understand the importance of building a better government for our future—I am also (unintentionally) priming the Trump machine by providing fuel for those who want to spread his hateful rhetoric. And worse, I’m using an admittedly polarizing figure to promote myself and my writing when I should be doing everything I can to support the candidate I believe can help foster the justice this country deserves. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t end this by saying that the absolute best bang for your political book buying buck is Promise Me, Dad, which is the Biden memoir that chronicles the year his eldest son was diagnosed with a brain tumor and how the devastating experience changed Joe’s view of our political landscape.

After all, you can’t run a country if you don’t love the people in it, which only goes to show Biden’s empathy is exactly what we need right now.

Andrea J. Johnson

Column by Andrea J. Johnson

Andrea is a writer and editor who specializes in mystery and romance. She holds a creative writing M.F.A. from Seton Hill University and a copyediting certification from UC San Diego. Her craft essays can be found on several websites such as Funds for Writers, DIY MFA, and Submittable. She also writes book reviews and entertainment news for the women's lifestyle website Popsugar and is the author of the Victoria Justice Mysteries by Polis Books. These killer courthouse cozies follow a young stenographer who realizes her transcripts hold the key to solving a string of murders (think Law & Order meets Murder, She Wrote). To learn more about Andrea’s work, visit ajthenovelist.com or follow @ajthenovelist on Twitter.

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