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Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  2,915 ratings  ·  408 reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - Dispatches from the 2016 election that provide an eerily prescient take on our democracy's uncertain future, by the country's most perceptive and fearless political journalist.

In twenty-five pieces from Rolling Stone--plus two original essays--Matt Taibbi tells the story of Western civilization's very own train wreck, from its tragicomic beginni
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 17th 2017 by Spiegel & Grau
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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,915 ratings  ·  408 reviews

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Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book includes Matt Taibbi's "Rolling Stones," articles, in which he covered the 2016 Presidential election. Now, I will state from the start that I am not American; but, looking on as an outsider, I really could not see why anyone would think that voting for Donald Trump was a good idea and nothing he has done since becoming President has calmed my fears. As such, I was interested to see if I could gain any understanding from this book.

What this really tells is the rise of Trump. Yes, the
Matt Taibbi is a helluva writer. Even if you don't agree with his political views, you might kinda wish you did…to see what he sees. He is really funny, and it is inevitable that you will choke out a few guffaws against your will when he goes after someone you fell for, or settled for. Sucker. The only person Taibbi doesn't speak of in sarcastic or cynical tones is Bernie Sanders, who never tried to entertain us so much as educate, inform, and move us.

After the election in November last year, Ta
Maru Kun
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you ever clicked on a NYT Opinion piece during the Clinton v. Sanders race then over on the left side of the screen you would read about what a wonderful President Hillary would make and how Sanders was an unelectable carpet-bagger whose proto-communist views would never be acceptable to the average American.

Meanwhile to the right of the screen in the readers’ comments column you would read page after page of comments, often more than a thousand, whose common theme was that Sanders’ policies
Sam Quixote
The wonderfully titled Insane Clown President reprints Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone articles from this past election, starting in August 2015 to the aftermath of that apocalyptic Election Night. The book has its moments but Taibbi isn’t the most original of commentators, more often than not going with the overall media narrative, so, if you followed the election closely like me, this reads more like a summary of the whole thing than a unique insight from the campaign trail.

Annoyingly, it takes a
Apr 18, 2017 rated it liked it
The American presidency has been ripe for the taking by a wealthy, non-political entity like Trump for some time now. It was inevitable.


In 2016, the moment of judgment had finally come. It didn’t take much doing. Child’s play, really. The system was that weak and ineffective, unable to put up any substantial fight. Now, a new paradigm has been set. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. The question was only how ridiculous, sad and vile things could get. The conditions had been present for at least 2
Linda Robinson
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
We all lived through this election cycle, and I like reading about it from Taibbi's viewpoint much better than from my own. This book is a collection of his journalistic observations, from the introduction with pieces of The Great Derangement, notes on 10 years of noticing something was changing in American politics, beginning with Howard Dean's campaign in 2004. There is a formula to candidacy as covered by political journalists that worked up until Dean: a 3-step evaluation that could pretty a ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Tiabbi's trenchant, funny and tragic book is an excellent post mortem on the 2016 election and demise of institutions like independent media, the end of facts, the decline of the Democrats and the depravity of the republicans, the tightening of oligarchy and the post-truth world. It is the story of how a vacuity of person, a self-absorbed con-man usually weeded out by our political process became the forty-fifth President to be sworn in later today. It has a surreal and disturbing funhouse cast ...more
Too much crude talk, and too offensive to read cover-to-cover, but I did skim from beginning to end.

This book sadly, is a very factual and 'on-the-mark' account of how the American people have allowed the American political process to degenerate to the point that America is now totally corporate-owned, and totally corrupt, and unaccountable to anyone.

To the point, that the most dishonest, vulgar, stupid, unqualified, Narcissist and his foreign agents now inhabit our White House, and he and his
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, non-fiction

The only thing I really miss about my Rolling Stone subscription is the reporting of Matt Taibbi. And maybe the scary-ass environmental articles written by Bill McKibben. (I canceled my 25 year standing order because they had the audacity, {stupidity?}, to put the Boston bomber POS on the cover. I'm surprised this Massachusetts girl received her copy intact and not covered in spittle.) When I saw the audio of this book was available at my library, I eagerly put it on hold, but I'm sorry to
Leo Walsh
Mar 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting, flawed collection of essays by Rolling Stone’s gonzo political journalist Matt Taibbi, Insane Clown President is worth a read. Here, Taibbi attacks the 2016 presidential race, from the primaries through the general election with his trademark acerbic, blunt, “take no prisoners” skepticism that borders, at times, on cynicism.

The text is series of Rolling Stone articles, unadorned and without corrections or "connected" into a coherent thesis. Instead, its a series of Taibbi's meditat
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Scary and depressing as hell but excellent. My favorite quote from the book: "[Most of Donald] Trump's supporters [seem] so stubborn in their lack of interest in 'the facts.' They [are] contemptuous of anything that [comes] from [the media]...But the ineffectiveness of 'facts' [doesn't] stop there. The election of Trump was not just a political choice, a vote against minorities and foreigners, against intellectuals, a cry for better jobs, etc. This was also a metaphysical choice. [Tru ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Consider this book the autopsy on the ascension of Trump®, a populist, man-of-the-people leader who hasn’t ever pumped his own gas. Hell, I’d wager that the guy has never flushed his own toilet and leaves that task for lesser humans—and everyone is a lesser human in his eyes. Now it will be the American people forced to clean up after the dump he takes on what remains of our democracy.

Equal parts trenchant and hilarious, Insane Clown President is perfect reading to get you through these rocky in
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook, nonfic, favorites
I am so glad this book exists. After the insanity of 2016, and reading current events as they were happening, I was anxiously awaiting an actual book to read which could put the whole mess into a proper historical frameworks.

Insane Clown President is mostly made up of the brilliant Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone articles at the time (of course, the comparison to Hunter S. Thompson can't be avoided), but the introduction and epilogue alone make this book worth it.

Taibbi definitely has a very import
Jack Wolfe
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the very worst things about Trump being president (and there are like a trillion awful things about Trump being president) is that fighting against him means looking at him and listening to him and taking him seriously as a human being, all tasks which are extremely difficult to do if you're a semi-normal, semi-decent person.

So one of the best things about "Insane Clown President" is that-- despite the fantastic title-- Matt Taibbi thinks Donald Trump himself is probably the least intere
This book is a collection of Taibbi's articles that ran in Rolling Stone during the 2016 election campaign, which I believe will go down in history as one of the lowest, if not the lowest, point in American politics for our country's existence. How could so many people, many of them poor, actually believe that this wealthy blowhard gave one shit about them? How could an intellectual bantamweight like Trump, who had no real platform (unless you want to count racism, sexism, and isolationism as "p ...more
Frederick Gault
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: political
Provided me with much-needed insight into why people could vote for a psychopathic jibbering turd like Lord Cheeto. It's more complex than "people are stupid". The level of disaffection got channeled into the direction of Grabby McCombover because he understood that a Presidential Election is reality television on par with Montel. If this paranoid human chancre doesn't blow us all to smithereens this book will be studied by future politicians. God help us survive this cretinous criminal degenera ...more
Kent Winward
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
So Matt Taibbi does some of the best political writing out there and this collection is no exception. I was hovering between 4 and 5 stars, but settled on 4 because this is a compilation of what he wrote during the campaign, so it is uneven and weirdly already a bit dated. Taibbi's analysis of the Trump phenomenon is prescient and although he got sucked into the same vortex of finding it hard to believe Trump could win that I did, his reasons and analysis of Trump's success are spot on.

Trump dr
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the majority of Americans, Trump's presidency represents a horror film unfolding before their eyes. This horror film is brought to us in excruciating detail by Matt Taibbi, a journalist that followed the nightmare that is now the Trump administration. Taibbi holds no punches back as he unfolds the story that is now our reality: an interesting word in the world of Trump-America.

Taibbi does not blame that minority of Americans who voted for Trump: the older white Americans wanting a fabled pas
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Let me start by saying that I'm not American, nor do I live in USA. I was looking at the US presidential election as a complete outsider. I'm always more or less aware of what is happening in the US, who's the president, whats the latest scandal, latest mass shooting or foreign country invasion. Because of the power and meaning of the US to the world, important thing from US are being reported throughout the world. However, I work in American company (whose name is scattered in this very book in ...more
Sarah Davis
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Spoiler alert: Reading this sharp collection of acclaimed Rolling Stone columnist and National Magazine Award winner Matt Taibbi's campaign notebook of the 2016 presidential election changes nothing.

Trump still wins in the end. :(

At 309 pages, this relatively tiny book is devastating. A bit like reading an account of every moment of the Titanic's voyage, from the delusional self-aggrandizement of both parties at pushoff right down to the aching shock of impact of the iceberg slicing through stee
Bob Nichols
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
The book was disappointing. Written like a diary to himself, there’s not much new here for anyone who followed the Trump candidacy last year. Some of the writing seemed like a Hunter-Thompson imitation. I watched Taibbi on television and was impressed with his reflections on the presidential race. That was the voice I was looking for. The book also makes little reference to Clinton until the last chapter.

The reference to the “post-factual movement” was good, but Taibbi attributes that phenomena
Gina Marcelin
Feb 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
Remember that Twilight Zone episode where the worker is told he is obsolete?
This book is obsolete at less than a year old.
This book just shows how absolutely overconfident the left was in 2017.
A basic premise of this book is about how the right backed themselves into a corner by having candidate Trump. The writer was so overconfident of victory he didn't wait for the election results to finish the book.
Surprise! Trump won and the right are in full control of both houses of congress, and one
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Despite the title, this wasn't primarily a hatchet job on the Chief Cheeto. It was a Fear-and-Loathing style deconstruction of the 2016 campaign, from someone who was there. Villains include the Democratic party, the Republican party, the abysmal field of candidates, and the press. If you lie awake wondering what the f@#$ just happened, this book might shed some light on that question. And Matt Taibbi is a damn fine writer - in the midst of my gloom I found myself laughing out loud at some of hi ...more
Repetitive at times but a really interesting and important read about the political circus of the last US presidential election. I learned quite a lot about campaign work, the systems of the two parties and how crucial the role of the media is in all this craziness!
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really 3.5 stars, but rounded up as the audio narration fit very well, with my main issue being Taibbi's no-holds-barred blunt style; at times I would've preferred a bit of tact.

Read "Shattered" first, using this one as a complementary story of how he won after understanding better how she lost. Taibbi's epilogue does go into her loss, as part of an indictment of the Democrats in general, but this book is all about failing to "stop the 'unstoppable'." In a sentence: many voters wanted change, no
Andrew Tollemache
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Matt Taibbi has been running under the mantle of the heir apparent to Hunter S. Thompson at "Rolling Stone", but at the end of the day I think MT has written the be all, end all memoir of the 2016 presidential campaign. Referring back to his iconic "The Great Derangement" Taibbi details how the Trump campaign came along at the very point at which so many divergent political trends came together at once to allow such a cartoonish con man to win he Presidency. For decades our political narrative h ...more
Jason Schneeberger
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting, sometimes funny and oftentimes very sad look at the 2016 presidential campaign from author Matt Taibbi's perspective; a journalist who was there for the whole wild ride.

While the book does primarily focus on the improbable rise of Donald J Trump, it also sheds light on just how utterly ridiculous and mindnumbingly dumb all of the candidates where during this election season.

Before reading this book, I, along with many others thought "how in the hell did Donald Trump fool enough
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I like Taibbi's writing. I've liked his other books. This one could have been better. Yes the title says dispatches. Most of the book is simply his political journal while out on the election trail. It would be appropriate to a blog in real time, but months after the fact it doesn't matter. To make it worst, the dispatches are sandwiched between an insightful prologue and epilogue, which do contain his analysis of the factors that gave rise to Trump. That's more what I would have liked to read.
Brandon Petry
This is the third or fourth Matt Taibbi book I've read and they always make me feel better about the world. I always read his books very fast as they are absorbing and insightful. But I keep coming back to him because he offers a low bullshit perspective on our recent history. And this book is no different.
Like Jon Ronson, Taibbi is a journalist who I will always read. I even subscribed to Rolling Stone after I read Griftopia just so that I could read Taibbi's journalism. Reading Taibbi often ha
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
The disaster that was the 2016 Presidential election is taken head-on each step of the way by Taibbi's invaluable political columns for "Rolling Stone" magazine. Taibbi was in much of the same headspace as all of us were, from "this can't happen" to "who knows, it might happen" to "holy shit! it happened!"

However, those of us on the ground in the red states, while shocked and deeply frightened, still weren't 100% surprised. In my neck of the woods, which skews older and deep red, I saw time afte
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“The man who once famously pronounced “I know words, I have the best words” scorched through the primaries using the vocabulary of a signing gorilla (“China—money—bad!”).” 3 likes
“It will go down someday as the greatest reality show ever conceived. The concept is ingenious. Take a combustible mix of the most depraved and filterless half-wits, scam artists and asylum Napoleons America has to offer, give them all piles of money and tell them to run for president. Add Donald Trump. And to give the whole thing a perverse gravitas, make the presidency really at stake. It’s Western civilization’s very own car wreck. Even if you don’t want to watch it, you will. It’s that awesome of a spectacle. But” 3 likes
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