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American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  415 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Politico Magazine’s chief political correspondent provides a rollicking insider’s look at the making of the modern Republican Party—how a decade of cultural upheaval, populist outrage, and ideological warfare made the GOP vulnerable to a hostile takeover from the unlikeliest of insurgents: Donald J. Trump.

The 2016 election was a watershed for the United States. But, as Tim
ebook, 688 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Harper
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4.24  · 
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 ·  415 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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Jill Meyer
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The latest entry in books looking at Donald Trump and his presidency is "American Carnage", by Politico author Tim Alberta. He takes a slightly different tack than many books about Trump in that he examines Trump's place in the Republican Party. In fact, the book is as much an examination of the party of Trump as it is about Donald Trump, himself. The book is described as "rollicking" but I truly don't think the last two years of the Donald Trump presidency can be described with any humor.

Tim A
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
There was absolutely nothing new in this book that a regular reader of the New York Times and reader of political blogs and twitter would not have already known. I stopped this book near the half way point where Trump was winning the Iowa caucus and ‘lying Ted’ was trying to make a comeback and ‘little Rubio’ the ‘freedom caucus’ favorite was self inflicting. For those who raved about this book, I would challenge them to find me one fact that wasn’t generally already known by most political foll ...more
POLITICO’s Tim Alberta, author of American Carnage (Harper), asked a “blissfully retired” John Boehner over lunch whether he believed that the Republican Party “could survive Trumpism.”

Boehner’s response? “There is no Rep—” Here he stops, hesitates, and when pressed, offers “There is [a Republican Party]. But what does that even mean? Donald Trump’s not a Republican. He’s not a Democrat. He’s a populist.”

After nearly three years of finger-wagging “I told you sos” bandied about by pundits and com
Robert P. Hoffman
This is an outstanding book. The author does an extraordinary job of telling what happened in the Republican party over the last ten years and what happened to our political world during that time period. It reads like a novel where the author laments the state of the world we find ourselves in. There are no evil people, just people who compromised themselves, abandoned principles, justified what they did, and failed to take account of the results of their lack of principles.

He is a first rate s
Jul 26, 2019 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Meh. Not what I expected. Returning to library and moving on.
Alex Mulligan
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It’s hard to believe this book is real, and not fiction. Loaded with interviews from major players (Trump, Ryan, Bohner, Cruz etc etc) this book is an authoritative text on the rise of Donald Trump and the tectonic shifts in the the Republican Party.

Alberta’s hypothesis is simple: The Bush administration left republicans tired and defeated. There were me young leaders to take the reins, no infusion of conservative thought, and a dwindling difference between Republicans and Democrats. Betwe
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid reporting, good analysis

Alberta does a great job tracking the final devolution of the modern Republican Party into the irrational, power-mad monster it is today. From the rise of the Tea Party to current the descent into Trumpism, this is a fascinating and chilling portrait of a political party in its apparent (and still dangerous) death throws. But there’s some context missing here. I understand why Alberta chose to focus on how the party changed after the election of Obama, but to truly
Miracle Jones
A fairly comprehensive yet painfully lifeless and mediocre history of the....present? The only thing here that hasn't been reported better elsewhere by reporters less interested in flattering Republicans for dubious reasons is the primary contest between Trump and Cruz, so if you can find those chapters excerpted elsewhere, you will get all you need from this one.

It is actually a colossal failure that this journalist manages to talk about the current Republican party without seeming to venture
John Bordeaux
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First draft of our shared history

Reading far too many of these ‘as it happens’ histories for my personal health, this was nevertheless a worthwhile investment. This is the book I would pass on to my grandchildren, who hopefully will ask “what was it like” rather than “no dinner tonight Papa, our pain is not yet avenged.”

Highly recommended to all who have the fortitude to read about what we’re experiencing, and especially recommended for my great-grandchildren. To them I say: Kids, I have no ide
Fred Klein
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not just an account of the first two years of Trump's first (hopefully last) term. This is an account of the changing Republican party from before Trump came to office, through his campaign and Trump's term until the release of the Mueller Report.

I found this author's analyses gripping, and I thought he was fair. He looks at the good, the bad, and the ugly about all participants.
Trey Grayson
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s long. But worth it.

I forgive him for calling me MM’s hand-picked candidate instead of my actual name. :)
Jack Fraser
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why read a book recounting major things that happened in the Republican party over the last 12 years? Especially when you're someone like me, who spent that time editing coverage of the Republican party? What I didn't realize when I embarked on Tim Alberta's well-reported book, American Carnage, was that he is slowly, carefully constructing an argument about the state of the Republican party. Alberta points out astutely that Republicans, through a series of decisions — some intentional and some ...more
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
The 2016 election was one of the most controversial elections in memory and President Trump remains a polarizing figure, yet how did American politics reach this point? Tim Alberta’s American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump is the story of the realignment of the Republican Party from President George W Bush to President Donald Trump.

The roots of this realignment lie in dissatisfaction of President George W. Bush, particularly his policies
Anthony Angelozzi
Tim Alberta has written a masterful account of changes that occurred allowing Donald Trump to take control of the Republican Party. Alberta’s thesis was that the Republican Party was ripe for the taking. I buy that theory and its concomitant claim that Trump is a symptom, not the cause, of American societal and political ills.

The biggest strength of the book is its lack of partisan agenda. The author certainly is not a fan of Trump (neither am I), but Alberta had no problem praising Republicans
This book starts at the beginning of President Obama's first term, and chronicles all the machinations by the GOP to make him a one-term president...then, it follows the bruising Republican primary season, reminding us of the words of Mr. Trump's then-opponents. It repeats all his ugly treatment of genuine, paid-their-dues GOP candidates. The general election of 2016 is covered in detail, and includes a great analysis of voting patterns, Electoral College, and numbers.

Only then does Alberta tur
Aug 13, 2019 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Very good so far. Interesting to understand how the barking mad Trumpist cult that passes for the GOP ended up like it is. It's enraging to hear the staggeringly stupid and explicitly racist "birther" conspiracy accepted by the racists and rubes and exploited cynically by those who saw it as a tool to cudgel Obama. The amorality of both of these positions is absolutely disgusting. It's intersting to hear the missteps Obama made in his dealings with the Republicans, both in policy (the specifics ...more
Monte Lamb
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book details the rise of Trump and how it is a result of our culture war in the USA. He didn't cause the divisiveness in our country but used it to win the election. IMO, this is a little simplified, but the book does a good job of walking us through on how the Republican party became two warring factions during Obama's presidency and how this has continued to evolve under Trump. His interviews with former Speakers of the House John Boehner and Paul Ryan are very interesting and you can see ...more
Jason Payne
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A terrifying book for a few reasons. As Alberta chronicles the co-opting of the Republican Party by the Tea Party and then Trump, one comes to realize he's actually writing an extended obituary for the Republican Party of Reagan/Goldwater/etc. Less ideological in the traditional sense, the Tea Party sweeps into (especially) the House people interested in winning through annihilation and then holding on to power at all costs. With Trump, even the Te Part members abandon any/all principles in orde ...more
John Spiller
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tim Alberta gives a fairly even-handed recounting of the evolution of the Republican Party from 2008 to the present, transmorgifying from the "Party of Bush" to the "Party of Trump." If you are a political junkie, Alberta's chronological review of the past 12+ years may seem like a superficial rehash of material covered in greater depth by other books. "American Carnage" does not set out to examine the "what" but rather the "why". Why did a political party whose core beliefs included laissez-fai ...more
The implied promise of giving us analysis of what went on within the party that resulted in an intra-party civil war, wasn't kept. This is mostly a recitation of events and actions, much of which was already covered in other media sources. If one hasn't been closely following the news, I suppose there is new information, though even then there are important events that are missing or given short shrift. There is some interesting behind-the-scenes information about the personalities and thoughts ...more
Stacy Bearse
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The Republican Party has been at war with itself since the early days of the GWB administration. Politico’s Tim Alberta offers this comprehensive history to help us understand how the party of family values and balanced budgets gave us Trump. The GOP experienced erratic changes in the years since the Gingrich proposed his contract with America. Under Bush, the Republican neocons wanted to subjugate the world. Then came the Tea Party agitators, who smashed the status quo in search of fiscal respo ...more
Rick Reitzug
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A long (600 pages to the footnotes), well-researched book that traces (1.) the circumstances that made the rise of Trump possible and (2.) the first 2 years of his administration. Although the book provides more detail than I wanted in some places, most of it is very compelling reading. The author provides a fairly objective treatment of Trump but, nonetheless, as the reader, revisiting the details of the 2+ years of the Trump administration all in one place makes you realize how de-sensitized a ...more
Dylan Groves
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well done horse-race account of the rise of Trumpism that will be most recognizable to future Biden / Haley voters.

I would be very interesting to read Alberta’s account of how he decided when to accept a person’s description of their own intentions and when not to. I’m not sure why “start by accepting people’s professed motivations until they clearly reveal themselves to have been lying or others cast doubt” is the right way to approach political reporting.

You end up playing a lot of “gu
Emmett Hoops
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
I can't write an adequate review of this book, because the English language has just so many superlatives for describing a work of non-fiction. Suffice it to say that this is the finest work of contemporary political history and analysis that I have ever read, and I've been reading this kind of non-fiction for 40 years or so. I hadn't intended to read this quite so soon: there were other books I had had lined up for summer reading. But I opened this one, read the first paragraph, and couldn't st ...more
100,000 words in three months: Tim is amazing. He grew up around Evangelicals and Republicans, so he gets those details right, and his insight into the politicking in Washington is deep and wide. He's no fan of Trump but he doesn't reflexively regard conservatives as Nazis, which is refreshing. If I have a quibble, it's that he is so fascinated by the politics that he doesn't really engage with the policy, with what the historical results of ideas are. He has the luxury of worrying about charact ...more
Andrew Pratley
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
For those interested in contemporary American politics & most especially the travails of the Republican Party this is a must. Before reading it I knew a fair but after reading it I knew & understood a great deal more.
The book is written in an engaging style & is based on interviews with many if not all of the leading protagonists. The author has not only expressed his views but also expressed the views of others who come from different standpoints. This book is not hostile to Republ
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-election
Alberta, formerly of the National Review, does a masterful job of detailing and dissecting the way in which Trump has stripped the Republican Party of any semblance of decency and rationality. "American Carnage" argues, in painstaking detail, the ways in which Mango Mussolini has mangled the Party of Lincoln, making into a white nationalist personality cult managed by morons and malfeasants. A must read for those pursuing comprehensive understanding of the mess we're in. Fine reporting from some ...more
James Briggs
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a masterfully written and relentlessly fair history of American politics from the start of Barack Obama’s presidency to the present. It is hard to imagine a better book being written without the author benefiting from greater passage of time. The only criticism I can think of is that there is an unusually high number of typos. I wish I had kept track. They are easily forgiven, though, as Tim Alberta flexes unmatched sourcing and insight on one page after another. Even the cover design (a ...more
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book takes.some concentration; it isn’t a light read. However, it is FASCINATING! Since I’m kind of a “how did that happen” searcher, this book helped me realize Donald Trump didn’t just stroll onto the landscape. The Republicans have been at each other’s throats since 2010. The Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus were a reaction to the permanent political class that wasn’t listening. Trump just exploited what was already happening.
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“This is what “Make America Great Again” conveyed to many voters. Others heard a message that was altogether different—not an identity-based message, but an anti-elitist screed, or a populist call for government reform. The genius of the catchphrase, and what made Trump’s candidacy so effective, was its seamless weaving of the personal and cultural into the political and socioeconomic. His was a canopy of discontent under which the grudging masses could congregate to air their grievances about a nation they no longer” 0 likes
“few trusted advisers, the president confided that he was worried about some interconnected trends taking root in the country—and most acutely within the Republican Party. There was protectionism, a belief that global commerce and international trade deals wounded the domestic workforce. There was isolationism, a reluctance to exert American influence and strength abroad. And there was nativism, a prejudice against all things foreign: traditions, cultures, people. “These isms,” Bush told his team, “are gonna eat us alive.” 0 likes
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