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Reviews for The Big Lie

by Jonathan Lemire

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Politico reporter Lemire debuts with a trenchant analysis of the origins and impact of Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Tracing the roots of the January 6 Capitol riot to an August 2016 rally in which Trump first publicly said that he expected the upcoming presidential election to be rigged, Lemire sketches Trump’s long record of distortions about his real estate holdings, wealth, TV ratings, and sex life. Lemire also details how Trump’s promotion of the “birther” conspiracy during the Obama presidency helped him to gain traction among Republican voters and revisits the 2019 episode in which then president Trump crudely altered a hurricane forecast map in order to justify his erroneous claim that Alabama had been in the storm’s path. Though treated as a joke at the time, Trump’s actions, coupled with the pressure government employees felt to support him, “changed the very nature of the nation’s politics and deliberately exacerbated the mistrust many Americans already had in their government.” Throughout, Lemire forcefully calls out Trump’s Republican enablers and uncovers behind-the-scenes details about Sen. Joe Manchin’s torpedoing of the “Build Back Better” bill and other events. This dispatch on the state of American politics hits the bull’s-eye. (July)

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A compendium of Donald Trump’s massive campaign of fraud, grift, and democracy-killing mendacity, in and out of office. It will come as no surprise that Trump built a tottering empire on lies. Though he doesn’t bring much fresh news, Lemire, White House bureau chief at Politico and host at MSNBC, does a useful service by assembling Trump’s fabrications in one place. The biggest of those lies is the constellation of assertions that the 2020 election was rigged and that Trump won. Of course, Trump, “the unlikeliest major party presidential nominee in more than a century,” was saying the same thing in 2016, preparing his base for what seemed the inevitable loss to Hillary Clinton. When he won, rather than admit that he might have been wrong, Trump continued to claim that the election was rigged, with illegal ballots that conspired to deprive him of winning the popular vote as well as the Electoral College. Even co-conspirator fellow grifter Steve Bannon, writes Lemire, commented, “Trump would say anything, he would lie about anything to win that moment, to win whatever exchange he was having at that moment.” As Lemire consistently and depressingly shows throughout his narrative, Trump blustered and lied about everything, and many of them “were just plain hard to categorize, like Trump’s insistence that windmills cause cancer.” The problem was, as Lemire documents, enough people believed his lies—whether the opening-moment-in-office lie that the inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s or the closing one that he had swept the ballot in 2020—that we wound up with Jan. 6. Where fresh news is in short supply, the author’s warnings run long. If anything, the lies will mount, as will the violence, even as a compliant and frightened Republican Party, which had its moment to stand up for democracy on Jan. 7, acquiesces to its lying master. A potent indictment that, lest anyone forget, underscores the dangers of Trump and Trumpism. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

There's been a spate of headline-grabbing Trump presidency tell-alls recently. Lemire, the AP White House correspondent and MSNBC host, does something different here, offering a chronicle of "The Big Lie," which began in 2016, when candidate Trump casually mentioned that if he didn't beat Hillary Clinton, the election was rigged. Lemire then hits the highlights (or, for many, the lowlights) of the next six years. For readers who've been paying attention, the overview of the Trump presidency will seem more than familiar. But this is a useful exercise, putting events in order and in context, especially for those whose memory has grown fuzzy or who have missed some lesser-known incidents. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is its latter third, which chronicles recent events, particularly the effect The Big Lie has had on political discourse, Biden administration policy, election viability, and overall safety. For readers wondering whether politics is ever going to get back to something resembling normal, Lemire's answer seems to be a simple nope.