Review of Devil’s Bargain

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Rating

9 Overall

8 Importance

9 Innovation

9 Style


Review

Joshua Green is the rare mainstream journalist who understands the nationalism and populism that Donald Trump harnessed to win the 2016 election. Here, Green chronicles Steve Bannon’s role at Breitbart News and in Trump’s campaign, offering one of the best explanations yet of the white working-class support that sent Trump to the White House. As Green retells the debates and speeches of the 2015 and 2016 campaign, he provides behind-the-scenes details about Trump’s tantrums and Bannon’s button pushing.

Green is no apologist for Trump’s rhetoric, which he sees as racist and factually challenged, but he offers a straightforward account of how Bannon tapped into right-wing rage to guide Trump’s victory. Green describes Trump’s surprising popularity among minority television audiences due to The Apprentice – popularity that plummeted after Trump embraced the “birther” campaign attacking President Barrack Obama. Green also reports on Bannon bankrolling investigators to dig up unflattering stories about Hillary Clinton. Green’s report is a useful, readable guide to the racial and political undercurrents that traditional journalists and politicians often overlook.

About the Author

Joshua Green, senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek, was senior editor at The Atlantic and columnist for The Boston Globe.

 

Green offers these insights and lessons:

1. Growing up as a Democrat, Bannon became a conservative Republican.

Bannon was born in 1953 in Norfolk, Virginia. His family’s blue-collar, Irish-Catholic roots shaped his political opinions. His first taste of politics came when he won the presidency of the student government at Virginia Tech by waging a sharp-elbowed campaign. After college, Bannon joined the US Navy. President Jimmy Carter’s failed attempt to save American hostages in Iran in 1980 was a debacle that left a lasting impression on Bannon. He felt shaken by what he considered Carter’s weakness, and ditched his Democratic roots to become a fan of Ronald Reagan. Green sets the stage for Bannon’s later life, but doesn’t deluge the reader with irrelevant biographical details.


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