5 Great Books To Read If You Want To Learn More About Donald Trump

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As the world girds its loins in anticipation of a potential third World War thanks to the American President’s recent act of terrorism against Iran, which saw him order commander Qassem Soleimani to be killed, you might want to learn more about the man responsible.

Whilst checking out his Twitter account might be an idea, he’s renowned for exaggerating, bending the truth and, quite frankly, outright lying.

So, how can you find out more about the man behind the madness? Reading books by those who’ve studied him and the way he behaves, both as a business leader and a President is probably the best way. As such, here are five of the best books out there on the Donald.

5. A Warning: Written by an anonymous person who claims to be a ‘senior Trump administration official’, this expose is filled with shocking insights into the way the 45th President runs his version of the White House. Expanding on an article published in the New York Times previously, the book goes into detail on the way that America is being led, and it’s pretty scathing. An eye opening read for those who want to find out more about what goes on inside the Trump administration (spoiler alert: not a lot, and not very quickly).

4. A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership: The memoir of former FBI director James Comey, this book shares a lot of Comey’s personal experienced working alongside the Trump administration. Appointed by Barack Obama, the revered Lawyer was sacked by Trump for failing to do his bidding and back down on his quest to find and showcase the truth about Russia’s interference in the election that had won the President his seat. As such, his book gives an honest and open account of the Presidents that Comey has served under, in his varied roles, and paints a portrait of Trump as the most shambolic and corrupt of the lot of them.

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3. It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America: You might already have realised by now that Trump’s policies, such as his family separation, concentration camps on the Mexican border and his revoking of many funding options for lower-income American families, will have a lasting impact on the country and the world. However, you might not understand the full extent of what Trump and his handpicked cronies are doing. If you want to find out more, then David Cay Johnston’s book is the perfect read for you. It shines a light on exactly what’s going on and the lasting legacy of hurt that Trump’s policies and actions will have on the American legal, justice, political and economic systems. From the climate to his border wall and everything in between, the book is a no-holds-barred showcase of all the damage that Trump’s White House is causing.

2. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House: An explosive book when it first came out in 2018, Michael Wolff’s expose on the Trump administration remains relevant and important reading to this very day. As a journalist, Wolff was given unprecedented access to lawmakers, governors and others within Trump’s inner circle, and he details all the revelations they offered to him in horrifying detail. From the President’s disinterest in his work, through to his nepotism and bullying leadership tactics, it’s all laid out so you can see the stark reality of what is happening to America if you read this gripping book.

1. Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump: Revered Sports Writer Rick Reilly explores how the way that Trump plays, and lies about playing, golf, shows a lot about who he is, both as a man and a leader. Interviewing some of the best golfers, course managers, tournament organisers, fans and caddies in the industry, Reilly paints a picture of a chaotic man who tries to control the narrative even when simply playing golf. Trump’s intriguing relationship with the game is shown in harrowing detail, and the book highlights just how deceitful, dishonest and disconnected the President really is.

The Peregrine Review: A Pastoral Classic That Remains Relevant To This Very Day

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It’s come to my attention that I’ve neglected the pastoral section of my blog since I started it, so I thought I’d rectify this by including a review of a seminal book from the genre.

J. A. Baker’s classic book, detailing his frantic following of a pair of peregrines through the forests around his home in Essex, is a tour de force of epic proportions.

It spans a full year and reads much like the diary of a rabid wildlife enthusiast. Baker is an insightful, voracious follower of birds of prey and gives minute details of every aspect of the lives of the birds and animals in the forest.

His book is deeply emotional and raw, with Baker shown chasing peregrines throughout the English countryside in a bid to understand their hunting methods and mentalities.

Unlike many books about birds of prey, Baker isn’t seeking to possess or tame these birds. He wants to become one. He’s looking to achieve their level of concentration and hunting prowess.

Throughout the book he surveys the birds and tentatively tries to get closer and see the world through their eyes. His pursuit of this hawk-like state sees him go into a trance as he follows the birds across the English countryside and gets to know their habits, prey, preferences and hunting styles.

Baker is a master at creating atmosphere and describing his natural surroundings, and as a result The Peregrine is deeply atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful. Also, as the book depicts a changing landscape being reshaped by manmade pollution, making it a very topical read even today.

At the end of the day, Baker’s book was published in 1967, and written even earlier, so it’s not exactly a recent publication, but I’d recommend any pastoral literature fan, amateur ornithologist or nature lover reads this book. I’ll be doing a review of Wilding in the New Year, once I’ve got all my Christmas reading and celebrating out of the way, so stay tuned for that!

Addressed To Kill Review: A Creepy Christmas Crime Story

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The newest instalment in the Inspector Stark novels features a chilling Christmas mystery, as Keith Wright delivers another thrilling instalment in this incredible series.

In 1987 Inspector Stark is gearing up for another busy Christmas, having just enjoyed his station’s festive shindig, when on Christmas Eve the body of a young woman is found having been brutally raped and murdered in a park.

Switching between viewpoints, Wright paints a picture of a deeply twisted murderer with a strange modus operandi revolving around toying with his victims before raping and brutally murdering them.

As such, Stark and his team are forced to spend the festive season battling to find the culprit before he attacks again. With many leads to follow and a variety of red herrings put in their way, the team have their work cut out if they want to uncover the truth.

Wright isn’t afraid to delve into the gritty details of sordid crimes such as this, and as such this book, much like the others in the series, has many enticing details that will engage and thrill crime fiction fans. For those who love reading creepy, dark novels full of suspense, this is the book for you this winter.

It’s not as atmospheric as it could be, but Wright has a way of pushing the plot along so you hardly notice, and instead quickly become wrapped up in the disturbing world of the killer and the police’s obsessive hunt for the truth. Stark and his team, as well as the other characters readers encounter, are all deeply human and well-rounded, making the story believable and engaging.

Overall I was incredibly impressed by Addressed To Kill. I’m not usually a big fan of Christmas themed books, but in this novel Wright shows how the festive season makes victims more unsuspecting and gives killers opportunities they don’t usually have, making it an eye-opening and gripping tale that you’ll want to revisit time and time again.

 

His Dark Materials Proves Fantasy Is Better As TV Shows Not Films

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The BBC’s new adaptations of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy proves that fantasy novels deserve to be made into TV shows, rather than films.

The Northern Lights, the first book in critically acclaimed series, designed originally for children, was adapted as a film a few years ago and renamed The Golden Compass.  

The film was a flop, for the simple reason that it tried to fit so this vast book, with all of its exposition and explanation, into one film. It was a long film, but not long enough to fit in all of the knowledge required to make viewers fully understand the concepts and worlds Pullman created.

The appeal of the show, rather than the film, is that it doesn’t ‘tell’ the story so much as it shows you. There are no huge info-dumps, nor any rambling conversations that are exclusively exposition designed to fill you in quickly before something else happens. Instead, the show draws you into the world of Lyra and Pan, showing you everything that happens whilst not overwhelming you.

The critical success of the TV series also shows that fantasy epics belong on television, not in films. HBOs beloved Game Of Thrones is another good example of a book set that would’ve made an awful film series, but as TV show it flourished (until the writers went and blew it on the final series).

Sometimes films can bring fantasy books to life, as is the case with Lord of the Rings, however it can be argued that the films are far too long, and would be better off serialised on TV. Indeed, Amazon has commissioned a series based on Tolkien’s epic novels, proving that the stories have yet more potential that, I don’t think, more films could fulfil.

Overall, it’s clear to see that fantasy belongs on TV. Adapting it for films means cramming it into too little time, or creating far too many, far too long movies that are hard to sit through. The best way to experience fantasy is always to read it, as that way you can let your imagination run away with you and really immerse yourself in the ideas and new worlds the author has created. However, if you’re going to watch fantasy, I urge you to watch a TV show version of your favourites, rather than slogging your way through a boring film

The Regret Review: A Heart-Stopping Thriller You Won’t Be Able To Put Down

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Dan Malakin’s The Regret is a fast-paced psychological thriller about how far people will go when their lives are threatened.

The novel centres around Rachel, a young nurse and mother to a three year old girl, Lily. Her seemingly perfect life is interrupted by the possible return of her past stalker, who may or may not be the person responsible for attempting to destroy Rachel’s life now.

Having been sent to prison for being a paedophile, Rachel’s former stalker is seemingly out for revenge, as Rachel framed him when she couldn’t make the stalking allegations stick. However, as the book moves on it becomes clear that the plot is much more complicated than that and that the protagonist is facing something far more frightening than a man scorned.

Malakin throws in a lot of red herrings, including a sketchy boyfriend, his dead-beat best friend and a technological wiz kid with questionable morals in the form of Lily’s dad and Rachel’s friend. Throughout the novel Rachel and, by extension, the reader, are left constantly wondering who is behind the destruction until the book reaches its apocalyptic climax.

Switching between a third person review of Rachel’s life and a deliciously creepy first person insight into the thoughts of the person trying to wreck her life, the novel is deeply disconcerting from the beginning and designed to unnerve and frighten.

The author has clearly done his research, giving an in-depth account of how the cyber-crime is being committed. From hacking Rachel’s bank account and re-routing her money through to scamming the NHS into giving access to patient records to be altered, the first-person chapters of the novel are the most harrowing of all, and the novel is well worth reading just for them.

The only issue I have the The Regret is that I feel that Malakin may have underestimated victims of such vile abuse. Often they become cautious after such experiences, and would not be as trusting as his protagonist. After all, she agreed to have a baby with a man she barely knew, and then allowed her boyfriend of a short time to have a key to her home.

If you can overlook this major character flaw then this is a thrilling and, frankly, terrifying novel about how remarkably easy it can be to ruin someone’s life. The twist at the end is so horrifying that it leaves you literally wondering how you never saw it coming. Malakin is a master of suspense and really leads his reader on in this tightly wound novel.

In all, The Regret is an enticing and deeply-disturbing book that I would recommend for those looking to get some real thrills this Halloween and frighten yourself with a tale of how far someone would go to destroy someone else’s life.

The Folio Society’s Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil Review: A Beautiful Way To Experience Berendt’s Savannah

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From the very opening sentence, it’s easy to see why the Folio Society has chosen John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil for one of its stunning editions.

Everything about this book is seductively and intellectually stylish and designed to bring to life more than just the tale of a real life murder in Savannah, but to showcase the diverse range of characters this majestic city has to offer.

From liars to thieves to everything in between, Berendt brings to these characters to joyful life in all their glory, showing that there is more to Savannah than meets the eye.

The cast of characters is incredibly eclectic and some of the tales are so tall they’re almost unbelievable. From petty grievances in the sitting rooms of the middle classes through to voodoo rituals held in graveyards and dalliances with unsuitable men, there are so many mad tales in this book.

Its main plot surrounds the murder of a homosexual handyman and kept man, who was killed in the home of his employer Jim Williams, who claimed self-defence. However, Williams’ story doesn’t entirely stack up against the evidence, and local opinion was divided. An unpopular man among some of the region’s influential elite, Williams fell foul of their wrath and the case ended up going to trial.

The first trial was overturned when the DA is found to have falsified evidence, and as such Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil follows both trials and their aftermaths. Berendt integrated himself fully into Savannah society, both its high society and lower class neighbourhoods, allowing him a broad perspective on the region’s opinions on this divisive trial, in which neither the killer nor the victim was universally liked.

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Whilst the murder, its impact on the community and the trials are a key aspect of the book’s plot, they are not its sole focus. After all, the killing doesn’t even occur until more than halfway through. Predominantly, this is a love-letter to Savannah, and a way to show that cities are more than just the buildings and places they feature, but the people who populate them and the beliefs they hold.

Trying to make his view of the city as diverse as possible, Berendt immersed himself in Savannah life, and delved into both black and white culture at the time. Although integration had begun at the time of his writing the book, the two communities were still, predominantly, separated, and the author shows us this and offers a unique glimpse into the lives of both races.

In fact, through his book Berendt shows us both sides of practically every binary in the city at the time: black and white, rich and poor, gay and straight, male and female. He shows how the cities diverse cast of characters’ lives were deeply entwined, and how the actions of one group, or even an individual, shaped the lives of others throughout the community.

Whilst people are, clearly, an integral part of the book, music also plays a big part in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Emma King, Johnny Mercer and many others are featured in the chapters marked out by nicknames or phrases they used. For those in love with the music of the Deep South this is the perfect book.

This stunning edition features photos of Savannah and the places and properties portrayed in the book. There’s a stark contrast between the photos, which are of people-less places, and as opposed to the chapters and narratives themselves, which teem with colourful characters are all named after titles or phrases used about the characters within.

It also features an introduction by the author himself, making it the perfect gift for fans of the book, or a great way to introduce yourself to Berendt’s Savannah.

In all, whether you choose to treat yourself or someone else, I would urge anyone looking to buy a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good Evil to consider this meticulously crafted edition. With its introduction and haunting photographs of Savannah’s landscape, it is a beautiful book that will bring Berendt’s atmospheric tale to life.

The Folio Society edition of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good Evil, including a new introduction by the author, is available exclusively from http://www.FolioSociety.com

 

Trace and Eliminate Review: Inspector Stark Is Back And Better Than Ever

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After having interviewed author Keith Wright I was excited to check out the second in his Inspector Stark series. I had to wait a little while but eventually I received a copy and was keen to check it out.

Set in the 1980s, this latest in the Inspector Stark series sees the dogged detective battle against both his own demons and the seemingly motiveless murder of a solicitor.

A hard-working family man seemingly with everything going for him, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for anyone to kill him. As Stark and his team race to find the killer a second, equally motiveless murder occurs, and the team has to work even hard to prove themselves to be ahead of this evil killer.

This is only the second in the Inspector Stark series, yet somehow he feels like a long established character with his own quirks. Yet, despite this, he doesn’t feel like a tired caricature; Stark is as individual as it gets, and his team all work together well, interacting in a natural way that makes this book exciting, thrilling yet at the same time completely believable.

The characterisation is the real selling point for this novel, with the core detectives, their suspects and witnesses all perfectly crafted so as to be both suspicious and at the same time believable. Many obvious but often-overlooked traits, such as pride, envy and intuition are all shown here in all their glory, making readers sympathetic to the character’s and their situations.

One thing I would say, and it’s literally my sole criticism, is that at times the language is a little clunky. There’s a lot of hedging that goes on, with phrases like ‘a bit’ used with alarming regularity at times. At others, the novel is exceptionally witty and intense, with the author taking control of the narrative and driving it towards intense conclusions that leave readers guessing with every new clue discovered and every new lead followed.

In all, this is a great historical novel, and as such if you’re a fan of old school detectives then Trace and Eliminate is the book for you.