Dangerous Charisma
November 5th, 2019 by diane92345

The author of Dangerous Charisma is an expert of political personality profiling. He ran a pilot CIA program to profile world leaders including Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat at the height of President Carter’s search for peace in the Middle East.

However, since Dangerous Charisma is about the most controversial President ever, Donald Trump, I can tell how you will rate it based on your party affiliation. Democrats will love it. Republicans will hate it. So if you are Republican move on and read Piety and Power about Mike Pence or Witch Hunt about Trump himself. There are books on each side of the aisle and actually the Pence book is very good.

Now, back to the Democrats. I don’t think calling Trump narcissistic or “mirror hungry” is particularly new. You hear it multiple times per day on MSNBC. That being said, it is new to wrap these issues in the official psychological jargon from the DSM, the manual to diagnose behavioral disease. Plus there are some great talking points for cocktail parties like that Citizen Kane is Donald’s favorite movie, which is about an unhappy wealthy narcissist much like Trump himself.

I enjoyed the look at the psychological underpinnings of Trump’s diehard supporters. It states that in times of stress, like being unemployed and seeing all their nearby factories close, leaves people looking for a voice in the wilderness stating follow me to the promised land where America is great again. Obviously, if you are a Trump supporter, you are not going to like hearing yourself characterized in this manner. You could be comfortably reading the Art of the Deal again and now you are so upset that you are planning on trolling me on social media. I’m just repeating what the author is saying. Please troll someone closer to the source material.

Speaking of the book, despite being a lifelong Democrat that held her nose while voting for Hillary in 2016, I don’t think Dangerous Charisma Is very good. It won’t change anyone’s mind and instead will just drive our fractured political system further apart. It also reads like an undergrad textbook. However, the cogent summary of the Trump presidency’s effects on the public’s mental health, strategies of the Democratic Party, and the United States’ ongoing foreign policy pulls my rating up to 3 stars.

Thanks to Pegasus Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Plaintiff in Chief
September 29th, 2019 by diane92345

President Trump has been involved in over 3,500 lawsuits throughout the years. That makes him the Plaintiff in Chief. But what else does that tell us about him?

By all accounts, young Donald wanted to be like his father—rich and aggressive. Fred Trump lied obsessively about everything. He believed that the law didn’t apply to him or his mobster friends. However, he was partial to suing people defensively to prevent someone from doing something he didn’t like even if it was perfectly legal and even just. Donald expanded on that by also using lawsuits to advertise his “Art of the Deal” brand. Once Donald befriended Roy Cohn, a mob lawyer in the 1970s, whatever moral, ethical or even practical inhibition he might have had was lost.

I found the facts in Plaintiff in Chief fascinating. It is amazing what a person can get away with using just prevarication and chutzpah. However, I felt the author was writing from an emotional point of view. He would repeat himself frequently. I am also not totally on board with some of his conclusions. Therefore, even though it was an interesting read, I would only recommend it to people who already dislike President Trump. I don’t think it will change anyone’s viewpoint. 3 stars.

Thanks to All Points Books, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

MAD about the Trump Era
May 8th, 2019 by diane92345

MAD about the Trump Era has exactly the same feel as the original magazines.

  • One overriding belief—check.
  • Various writing styles from prose, to parodies, to poetry, to short comics—check.
  • Excellent artwork including easily recognizable caricatures of political and pop culture figures—check.
  • More clever, and occasionally witty, than laugh-out-loud funny jokes—check.

MAD about the Trump Era definitely brings back memories of making fun of President Nixon. If anything, there is more data to mine for laughs with President Trump. Just his tweets alone could fill an entire book. The jokes are hit and miss—compare them to the sketches on Saturday Night Live. I really enjoyed Captain Red America because it works on a surface level of climate deniers. But there is a deeper self-referential humor in the R on his suit referencing Red Robin of DC Comics, which owns MAD magazine.

Obviously, if you are a MAGA hat wearing staunch supporter of the Donald, this book is not for you. However, it is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for us older democrats (socialists to you, Mein President). 3 stars.

Thanks to MAD Magazine, DC Entertainment, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: ,

Night of Camp David
December 1st, 2018 by diane92345

Senator Jim McVeagh is approached by President Mark Hollenbach at a journalists’ dinner and invited to a Night of Camp David the same evening. While there, the President states that using wiretaps on every phone in America is a good way to prevent crime. He then goes on a paranoid rant against his own Vice President, OMalley. He asks Jim what he thinks of various alternatives he is considering as running mates for his reelection campaign. One of the alternatives is Jim himself.

After returning home, Jim learns that others are concerned about the President’s paranoia too. When the President offers Jim the vice presidency, he accepts but doesn’t mention his long-time mistress, Rita. Soon afterwards, Jim breaks it off with Rita.

As the President gets increasingly paranoid, he floats many plans to remove rights from the American people beginning with freedom of the press. He also sleeps less and less while becoming moody. When he talks of merging with Canada and Scandinavia, Jim believes he speaking about conquering those countries. It is then that Jim concluded the President is insane.

Night of Camp David seems like it was written for our current political climate of a President who also appears to have “delusions of persecution and perhaps grandeur as well.” However, it was originally published in 1965 well before the Trump and Nixon presidencies it most resembles. It is still a topical book even if it is written in a slower pace than current thrillers. It’s worth a read for political junkies. 3 stars.

Thanks to Vintage Anchor Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House
August 25th, 2018 by diane92345

Who can forget the #1 villain in three seasons of the Apprentice? Omarosa really spills the t in Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House.

After a year serving in Trump’s White House, Omarosa is unceremoniously fired by Chief of Staff Kelly. Trump appears to know nothing about it. Trump’s family attempts to coerce Omarosa into not speaking out by offering her an equivalent annual salary of $150,000 for working on Trump’s reelection campaign. But they don’t know Omarosa!

Since Omarosa seemed anything but stupid in her Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice appearances, it seems rather disingenuous of her to say she never noticed Trump’s racism or sexism. Her later assertation that she and Trump were using each other seems more accurate.

Some of the information here is shocking even to those inured by the unconventional Trump presidency. Drivers passing me on the freeway while I was listening to this book are excused from wondering about the crazy woman alternately laughing hysterically and screaming in astonishment at her car stereo.

I attempted to read the previous Trump tell all, The Fire and the Fury, earlier this year but it was a snoozefest. Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House is anything but. I listened to it at 1.5 speed because I just couldn’t wait for the next episode. Omarosa throws most of Trump’s family and close aides under the bus. Then backs up and runs over them again in true Suge Knight style. Here are just a few samples. Was there a missionary position component to Trump’s official spiritual advisor’s ministry with him? Is Kellyanne really not as dumb as she acts? Is Betsy Devos’ nickname Ditsy accurate because she is dumber than she acts (though that appears to be a pretty low bar)? Is Trump sliding into dementia? Does he go into day-long “nuclear” rages at perceived and actual slights?  Are his early morning tweets just as much a surprise to his staff? Is Melania a great mother just waiting for the presidency to end to get a divorce? Is she using her clothing and body language to send a not-very-subtle signal to the Donald? All this and more are in Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House. Is it all true?  Who knows, but I can guarantee that it is immensely entertaining! It is highly recommended for everyone who has wondered what life is, or could be, like in the Trump White House. 5 stars!

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: , , ,

Memoirs of a Very Stable Genius
July 19th, 2018 by diane92345

Multiple Eisner award winner Shannon Wheeler is not afraid to skewer everyone’s sacred goats from Trump to confederate flags in Memoirs of a Very Stable Genius.

Do Latin pigs speak Pig Latin? Would statues of bestiality be less controversial than confederate generals? How do angels describe their halos to get them back from Heaven’s Lost and Found Department?

Definitely not for children, Memoirs of a Very Stable Genius is consistently and irreverently funny. Some are one-page political cartoons. Others are multi-page short stories—some fiction and some seemingly true personal experiences of the author. About a third of the book is in color.

The book is dedicated to men with small packages and the author’s father. If that seems weird, this may not be the comic for you. It is funny and a good short read. 3 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Image Comics, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

Future of Terrorism
July 4th, 2018 by diane92345

The Future of Terrorism includes a well-researched and comprehensive history of terrorism from antiquity through 2017. Its section on terrorism’s future is more divisive based as it is on the current political climate in the United States.

The book has three parts: terrorism in history, modern terrorism and the future of terrorism. It is interesting to learn that terrorism has been around forever.

“Terrorism is not only a product of bad governance but also a manifestation of youthful idealism.”

Obviously, both bad goverance and youthful idealism are not a new phenomenon.

Why is terrorism’s history relevant? Because the Islamic State (aka ISIS) is a “hodgepodge of the best approaches from the history of terrorism.” Modern digital life has changed the way terrorist organizations recruit (through the web) and frighten the populace (YouTube beheadings). However, the goals and results remain the same then and now—overthrow and recreate a society more fair (at least to the groups to which the terrorists belong).

The Future of Terrorism is recommended to any reader interested in how insurrection has changed society from the French and Russian Revolutions to the modern middle east. However, Trump supporters will not appreciate the linking of him to alt-right terrorism and conspiracy theories even as left-leaning readers will be saying “duh” to something so obvious.

The book uses statistics to prove that the threat of terrorism is less than the threat of gun violence—at least in the United States. However, the preeminent threat is the overreaction to terrorism that threatens our nation’s freedoms and our mandate to accept the tired, hungry and huddled masses yearning to be free.

While the writing style of the Future of Terrorism is academic (think of a 1950s college history textbook), the information is valuable. 3 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Thomas Dunne Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,