Closing the Book(s) on President Trump – Double Book Review

During my family’s Hilton Head summer vacation, I read two new books about the Trump presidency’s final year or so. “Frankly, We Did Win this Election” The Inside Story of How Trump Lost by Michael C. Bender and I Alone Can Fix it: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.

Some people despise Donald Trump. Some love him. My personal opinion doesn’t matter and isn’t what drove me to read these books.

Why I Read Them – 2008 Echoes

After the 2008 Great Financial Crisis, I learned a lot about the economy, markets, business, and the Fed by reading many of the great books published about those events. The Great Financial Crisis was the biggest economic and market decline of my lifetime. I help people invest and plan for the future. My clients were impacted by it. And for most of us, it came out of nowhere driven by things we were not aware of. I had some catching up to do.

Looking for the best books to read about the Great Financial Crisis? Check out this list of recommended investment books, videos, articles, podcasts, and blogs. 

COVID-19, the government’s response, the market crash and recession, how we recovered, racial tension, and the January 6th events are just a few reasons why this era is similarly important to learn from. These two new books about the Trump presidency were a good start.

The Books

Frankly’s author is Michael Bender, senior White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal. He’s covered Trump for years, and they have a relationship.

Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker from The Washington Post wrote I Alone.

I recommend picking one versus reading both. I Alone went into the Trump campaign’s legal challenges and the January 6th events more than Frankly, but outside of that things were consistently chronicled in both. They had a different tone, which you could probably guess from their titles.

Of the two, Frankly feels more like reporting, and I Alone felt more like a newspaper column.

An informed newspaper column, but it editorialized more against the Trump presidency.

Some Takeaways

Trying to keep partisanship out of it, here are some takeaways in these books about the Trump presidency.

You see through both why COVID-19 and the recession infuriated Trump. Prior to the pandemic, the economy was in good shape. The stock market, his favorite metric, was doing well, and he expected easy reelection. For many reasons, including his own instincts, advisors, and perceived supporters’ expectations, he couldn’t pivot his messaging.

China took a hit. Both Trump presidency books report them covering up the pandemic and refusing early global cooperation.

The WHO took one as well. Reliant on China’s financial support, they didn’t always call things the way they were.

The Wuhan lab leak theory is more realistic than I imagined before reading these books.

I’m still confused why the CDC and other U.S. health officials knew that the virus spread asymptomatically via droplets yet delayed the mask mandate. I know what they’ve said, but after reading these books it still doesn’t make sense. Taking it back to 2008, when the government screwed up by not bailing out Lehman, I know why they claimed they couldn’t, but I think they were rationalizing after the fact.

I hope Massachusetts’ own, Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, writes a memoir or lectures somewhere I can attend. He had quite a ride.

Suggested Further Reading

Summer Reading List – This summer reading list has books I enjoyed this year that I hope you like as well. It has four fiction and four non-fiction recommendations, plus links to other reading articles and resources for you.

My (Fingers Crossed) Final Covid Post – Wrapping up a sporadic series of posts about COVID-19 by looking back at the last fifteen months and talking about vaccines and a return to office