As he gears up for another presidential run, I felt now was an ideal time to share a review of an incredible book chronically the 45th President’s absurd and chaotic White House administration. I’ve already shared some of the best books about Trump a few years ago, but I’ve recently read this defiitive guide and I thought that now would be a great time to share my thoughts on this book that everyone who used to, wants to, or is supporting Trump.
The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021 is an incredible overview of the manic Trump presidency, from his initial run to becoming the unlikely underdog to win the presidency, to his mis-handling of the coronavirus pandemic right through to his incitement of the January 6th riots when he didn’t win reelection.
Dubbed ‘the adhocracy’, the madness of Trump’s White House set-up, including the infighting, nepotism and backstabbing is brilliantly outlined by husband and wife journalism team Peter Baker Susan Glasser.
Drawing on interviews with insiders, a detailed analysis of the media and Trump’s former favourite social media platform, Twitter, the pair analyse how the former president was perceived by those around him, both in and out of the White House. The book is incredibly detailed and delves into all of the major scandals and events of Trump’s tumultuous presidency.
Throughout the book, which takes its name from the nickname given to Trump’s staff management style of pitting his staff against one another, Baker and Glasser make droll comments about how duplicitous and contradictory the former Commander In Chief was throughout his one-term tenure in office. By combining their own opinions with those of former staff members, the authors are able to highlight the craziness in the Trump White House.
Alongside the chapters, which are each named after a comment from or about the 45th President, the book features a selection of well-chosen photographs that encapsulate Trump’s presidency. Some of the highlights include the picture of a stern looking Angela Merkle standing over the former president, Nancy Pelosi wagging a finger at him, Melina Trump strutting around her husband’s concentration camp for migrant children separated from their parents wearing a jacket with “I really don’t care, do u?” emblazoned on the back, the image of Trump holding a bible upside down outside a church after clearing aside peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors with tear gas, and many other iconic photographs. Each image is accompanied by a scathing inditement on Trump’s behaviour and astute observations about how the pictures were perceived in the media, by the public and behind closed doors in Trump’s fractious White House. The imagery is perfect, and although the text isn’t fully proofread and grammatically correct, it’s still a great read.
The one thing I’m not entirely sure about when it comes to The Divider is how Baker and Glasser portray many of Trump’s enablers, such as his multiple Chiefs of Staff, Vice President Mike Pence, the Republicans who chose not to impeach him and other former supporters in Washington’s political class. The authors assert that many of these individuals didn’t support Trump at all, and were just working on his behalf because they were concerned that if they left, they would be replaced someone worse than they were. Allegedly, many of these individuals didn’t believe in the policies they were promoting, but were instead pushed by Trump and had a sort of moral imperative to stay in the White House and do their best to do everything in their power to derail Trump’s worst plans.
Perhaps the worst instance of this is the way the writers discuss Kirstjen Nielsen, who is perhaps most famous for implementing Trumps family separation program, which has devastated thousands of lives. Many of the children separated from their parents have still not been reunited with their families all these years later, yet the book tries to make readers feel sorry for Nielsen and argues that she, in fact, opposed the plan and just had to pretend to support it and go through it to keep her role. While this might be true in some cases for some of the White House staff members mentioned in the book, it seems a bit of a reach for some, including Nielsen. It seems impossible to me that someone so disgusted with such an immoral policy could still be its champion and spokesperson. While Nielsen tried to justify the policy in public statements and tried to make out like the policy was less serious than it was, that doesn’t say to me that she vehemently disagreed with the policy. Neither of the authors spare the rod for Trump himself or his family, but many Republicans who enabled him and supported his appalling work are made to seem sympathetic because they were themselves targets of Trump’s wrath and because the White House was such a toxic workplace. We’ll never know the full truth, but it seems like the authors are pushing to provide an acquittal for many of the key players in the Trump administration, which I don’t believe they deserve.
However, despite this, The Divider is still a useful read for anyone who wants a complete chronicle of the entirety of Trump’s presidency. It doesn’t gloss over any of the worst of the administration’s actions, and reviews them from multiple angles. For example, Baker and Glasser explore Trump’s removal of American troops from Germany through the lens of multiple players throughout Europe. Additionally, every action Trump takes that has an impact on the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, and there are many, is chronicled in detail and the authors work to outline how these affect major players on the world stage as well as how they make America look.
In all, The Divider is a timely read for anyone who’s considering voting for Trump, or who thinks that a return of the Donald to the White House might not be as bad as people say it will be. Donald Trump is a serial liar with no capacity for empathy or interest in anyone but himself. The man has multiple legal cases against him right now, and he deserves to be locked up for his complicity in the January 6th riots and his attempt to pervert the course of justice and disrupt democracy. Trump might not have announced his bid for re-election in 2024, but he’s clearly gearing up for it, so anyone who’s unsure about how dangerous he is, or how fundamentally unhinged, should read this book before passing judgment.