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

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,418 ratings  ·  377 reviews

New York Times' Top Books of 2019

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 watersh

Kindle Edition, 687 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Harper
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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
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
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tim Alberta is a strange creature, a political nerd seemingly without a party. Reading him, he at times appears to have sympathies for old-time conservatives, libertarian outrage, and the broader liberal message. He is chief political correspondent for Politico but covered the 2016 election for the National Review and National Journal. He has reported for the conservative-leaning Wall Street Journal as well. He came to Washington, D.C. at the end of the 2nd Bush administration, and had a front r ...more
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alberta has written an amazing book which chronicles the 11 year journey of the Republican Party, going from a party in a civil war while out of power to its return to power with the Trump Presidency. I'm someone who follows politics very closely and remembers all of the events that took place in this book but Alberta effectively gives an unbiased look at where the political right was and is during this last decade. The book ends in the Spring of 2019, alot has happened since. A sequel is defini ...more
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
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
Stewart Sternberg
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is surprisingly long. But it is worth a read, especially for people twenty years from now as they wonder how they got where they are.

How did the right wing grow so strong in the US? Why do we have such tribalism? How did Trump exploit it?
Trey Grayson
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s long. But worth it.

I forgive him for calling me MM’s hand-picked candidate instead of my actual name. :)
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
American Carnage
by Tim Alberta

Finished Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Tim Alberta, a reporter with Politico, brings a journalist’s skill to this history of the Republican Party from the 2008 election of Barack Obama through the 2018 midterm elections. This is a chronological history of the period with all the characters of the GOP from the Tea Party to Sarah Palin to the Freedom Caucus until Trump takes over the party.

As the story begins we are faced with an economic crisis. The Republicans, in a w
Adam Schrecengost
This is an odd book. There's nothing really new, and I'm struck that Alberta decided to structure it similar to how events played out in the public eye instead of what was really going on behind the scenes. Because of this, it feels Iike a Wikipedia summary of the past 10 years, and none of the interviews have bite. I expected a lot more. ...more
Bryan Craig
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Politico's Tim Alberta has written a great "second draft" of recent history. He sketches out the last 11 years of Republican Party history to figure out how it became Trump's party. Well worth your time. ...more
Very informative book on the GOP civil war and how it did NOT start with Trump but long before that. He gets a bit negative with his rhetoric towards the end instead of letting the facts speak for themselves but all together pretty interesting book.
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though the title is taken from Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural address, this book is about more than just the 45th president of the United States and his impact on the Republican Party. Instead what Tim Alberta provides is a Washington-eye view of the evolution of the national GOP from the 2008 election to the midway point of Trump’s presidency. A longtime political reporter, Alberta draws upon a wealth of interviews with many of the key Republicans in Congress, featuring them as they key figures ...more
Sep 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First off--there's nothing wrong with this book, if you want to read a competently written, single-perspective take on what's gone wrong in the Republican party, since the great disaster of 2008 (Obama's election). Tim Alberta writes in endless, numbing, day-by-day detail, about strategic errors the Republicans made, in trying to salvage their noble party. In Alberta's POV, calling them errors is probably too harsh. His overarching point is that Republicans still are (or could be) the kind of pa ...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
Ben Deutsch
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was going to put down the modern political books for a while until a good friend recommended American Carnage and it restored my faith in Trump-era non-fiction. That was probably in large part due to this being much more than a “how did we get here” Trump book. It is a comprehensive history of the Republican Party’s civil war which began to simmer in the Bush administration, boiled hot throughout the Obama years, and completely exploded out of the pot in the Trump era. Alberta’s access is phen ...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
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Since November 2016 I’ve been reading lots of books about politics, trying to understand how Trump happened. This is the best book I’ve read so far. The most interesting parts for me were the end of the Bush years and the shifts during Obama’s presidency. It also chronicles the rise of Trump but exposes the forces that made that rise possible. Highly recommend.
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a few years, this book will offer an invaluable historical perspective on the insane and terrifying Trump moment. I blasted through this 600-page tome in about two weeks because it's compelling and hard to put down. It's as hard to look away from Alberta's writing as it is to look away from Trump himself, as much as I deeply loathe the president. Notably, Alberta now writes for Politico, but spent most of his career with deeply conservative publications. I was reading this while trying to und ...more
Steve Solnick
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alberta offers a book that is at once too detailed and not deep enough - chronicling the transformation of the Republican party from 2008 to 2019. I found the first half of the book more illuminating than the second, and better structured. The dance between McCain and Romney, the rise and fall of the Tea Party, the emergence of the Freedom Caucus, the trials and tribulations of Speaker Boehner - all make for compelling, if familiar, reading. Into this narrative of rightward drift, Trump lands li ...more
Scott Martin
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Audiobook) A modern history of the modern Republican Party, this work analyzes the inner politics and external forces that played such a critical part in defining and creating the Republican Party as it functions today. Relying on interviews and insights from various power players, from John Boehner to Donald Trump, this work offers an account that isn’t just rehashing the political headlines from the Washington Post or other national news sources. I learned a great deal about the inside baseba ...more
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
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ExHAUSTively reported and exhausting to read. No new information, no really new insights into the Trump Administration. Mostly an almost minute-by-minute recounting of Trump’s rise to power... Thoroughly depressing and disheartening.
Jul 26, 2019 marked it as abandoned
Meh. Not what I expected. Returning to library and moving on.
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't say I enjoyed reading this book, it was to personal for me, but saying I did not enjoy reading a book doesn't mean the book is not good and doesn't hold value. I am glad I read it. The reason I can't say I enjoyed the book is because I have been an elected Republican from the first Chapter of the book (Tea Party Class of 2010) until present. It has been difficult to see the evolution of the Republican party over that course of time. I've seen men that I respect, like Paul Ryan, be chewed ...more
Anita Lynch-Cooper
I don't read a lot of nonfiction/political books but this was well worth the time and effort. I didn't read it quickly because I was constantly googling the Republicans described in the early Freedom Caucus and other segments of the Republican party. I gained new respect for John Boehner and confirmed my low opinion of Jim Jordan and Mick Mulvany.

How did a party of small government and fiscal responsibility become the Trump party of protectionism, isolationism and " spending money like a teenage
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I rarely read books like this: it's about modern politics, it's written by a moderate conservative, and it's MASSIVE. But, I listened to the NYT best-of-year podcast roundup (which was a roundtable discussion) and one of the reviewers just gushed about this book, how it deepened her understanding of how we got in this mess, so I picked it up.

I am not precisely sure it did for me what it did for that reviewer, but it really helped me take a big step back and look at the last 10 years from a 30,00
Dr. Tobias Christian Fischer
Some interesting facts but in general old coffee heated up. It feels a bit outdated and therefore I rate it with two stars
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
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Tim Alberta is chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine, and has reported for National Review, National Journal, The Hotline, and the Wall Street Journal.

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