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Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  2,856 ratings  ·  521 reviews

From New York Times bestselling author Sarah Kendzior comes the bitingly honest examination of the erosion of American liberty and the calculated rise to power of Donald Trump.

The rise of Donald Trump may have shocked Americans, but it should not have surprised them. His anti-democratic movement is the culmination of a decades-long breakdown of U.S. institutions. The s

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by Flatiron Books
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Anita Nelson We aren't against Russia or the Russian people. We are against the corruption of Putin and Trump. They are both part of an international crime syndica…moreWe aren't against Russia or the Russian people. We are against the corruption of Putin and Trump. They are both part of an international crime syndicate.

Live, Alexsy. Resist. (less)

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Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing


Michael Hicks
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading Sarah Kendzior's Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America while self-isolating against the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths from the coronavirus outbreak is to see her prediction, from 2015, that Donald Trump would decimate American democracy and her central thesis that his administration is a nexus of "political corruption, organized crime, and endemic racism" play out in real-time. With each successive chapter, and each new segment ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Coming, this week! .... Read it, share it .... Buy copies (from your local independent bookstore, of course) and give them as gifts.... But, seriously, read it. It's an eye-opener.

Here's a taste:


. . . Mid March 2020 update: Disappointing newsflash : Alas, Kendzior has done the responsible thing and cancelled her book tour, timed to coincide with the release of the book, in light of the coronavirus situa
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Originally published on my book blog,

Sarah Kendzior has done it again with Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America. This is 320 pages of hard truths, and may or may not feel like healthy quarantine reading. Especially considering how much scarier everything has gotten since she finished writing this book.

But I’d rather see the world through clear perspective and analysis. Rose-colored glasses aren’t my jam. Kendzior posits that the fact
Jen from Quebec :0)
WOW.....This is NOT simply "a book about Trump". While, yes, it does document his rise from the 1980's to present day, it is actually a tome about the entire SYSTEM in America, about capitalism, about privilege. This book delves into so many other important subjects that I think it should have an entirely different title!

According to Kendzior, Trump is a symptom/result of a broken society, and this book delves into vital questions about things that affect all humanity; a book that's more 'deep'
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unforgettable, 2020
Every American must read this book. One, so those who would never vote for this disgusting man understand how important their vote and VOICE are to the protection of our country and so those very same voters with decency and common sense can continue to inform others how important this moment in time is for equality and justice for all in life as we know it. Sarah Kendzior is a woman with courage, and this is her truth. She’s risking her life and the lives of her family in writing this book; yet ...more
Feb 18, 2020 marked it as maybe  ·  review of another edition
Description excerpt: Hiding in Plain Sight exposes this continual loss of freedom, the rise of consolidated corruption, and the secrets behind a burgeoning autocratic United States that have been hiding in plain sight for decades. In Kendzior’s signature and celebrated style, she expertly outlines Trump’s meteoric rise from the 1980s until today, interlinking key moments of his life with the degradation of the American political system and the continual erosion of our civil liberties by foreign ...more
Tom Jeffrey
May 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was very disappointed with this book. While the author has a valuable perspective as an expert on authoritarian states, and accurately predicted Trump’s election and subsequent governing as an autocrat (she says kleptocrat), she seems to believe that her predictive abilities are infallible. She also has an unfortunate tendency to roll up varied historical players in ongoing conspiracies, supporting her many conclusions with loosely linked facts (some of which are themselves are merely conclusi ...more
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is just as good as Dr. Kendzior´s flyover book. I don’t think that independent thinkers need a book to see what’s going on in our country though. Ideology aside, most of us are caught in that horrible dilemma of accepting between a psychopath or an idiot, for this con artist who supposedly is our president. I feel terribly sorry about the folks who he managed to manipulate because their dignity had been hurt. As for the rest: racists, entitled assholes, or even simply decent people who just ...more
Apr 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
Kendzior has a big conflict: the government is for him mommy, daddy and the nanny, the whole trinity. And he does not want Trump as daddy.
Donna Hines
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, netgalley
You can't excuse it away. It's not behavioral. It's a personality trait disorder & it's dangerous.
The problem is nobody wants to admit they were dooped just like nobody wants to take accountability and responsibility for putting this danger upon us all.
So, the blame, shame, shifting of responsibility and finger pointing is on full steam ahead even during a pandemic.
I've noted it myself and have felt strongly that the constant living in a fight or flight response is not the norm. The degradation
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sarah Kendzior's Hiding in Plain Sight gives us a clear and impactful recounting of how Donald Trump got where he is today, and the cast of characters who helped get him there. Essential reading for supporters and opponents alike, this story of what has happened to our nation and its highest office speaks to all of us. If I could compel everyone who truly wants to "make America great again" to read any book in the thick of this election year, it would be this one. History counts and so do facts, ...more
Amanda Mae
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
This was a pretty depressing read, but I knew most of the material covered. I've lived through it. I've experienced it. I appreciate the realism and groundedness of Kendzior - I'm a big fan of her other book, and looked forward to reading this one. If nothing else, it's a catalog and a timeline of events that I hope will be rectified and made right in my lifetime. It's a reminder of our recent past. I look forward to reading more from Kendzior and hoping she continues to speak truth as loudly as ...more
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the most clear eyed and sadly depressing of the Trump themed books I've read over the last three years. It is also the best. As a journalist living in St Louis, Missouri Kendzior has a first hand experience of a living in a battleground (literally and politically) and this gives the book an urgency and depth than had it been written by someone on either of the media friendly coasts. Required reading for anyone who has even a passing interest in the orange one and the social conditions th ...more
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Well written. If you care about democracy, the here and now of our country and it’s future, read this book.
This book will infuriate you if you aren't already. Sarah Kendzior tracks the rise of Trump from the 80's through today. She explores how our democracy is being threatened and how our popular media and how leaders on both sides of the aisle fail to hold him accountable, and thus are failing American democracy. The most terrifying thing, and something that will now consume all of my worry energy, is how the unprecedented access that Ivanka and Jared have positions them to rise in power and influe ...more
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A deeply moving and timely book.
Well this was a journey. It was a highly informative and entertaining one, but with some flaws. What I am grateful for and what I successfully found while reading this book was a thorough indictment of pretty much all Trump's associations, behaviors, and business dealings.

I think a lot of people assume anti-Trump sentiment derives entirely from the fact that he defeated Clinton in 2016. Not true. I have ALWAYS hated Trump, and apparently so has Kendzior. I hated him when he was a Democrat. I hat
Christa Van
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After reading this book, you may find yourself democracy even a thing anymore? Crazy times is all you can really think as you marvel at how things have come to this. The country isn't easy to live in anymore but there aren't any obvious other choices either. What will it take to get the average person interested in the decline? It isn't that they aren't interested, there are limits to what any individual can do. Kendzior spends a lot of time talking about these issues and warning ...more
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The opening chapter in which Kendzior discusses the politics and socio-economic conditions in Missouri is very enlightening – it is reminiscent of the best parts of Thomas Franks’ ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas’. The remainder of the book is in large part a discussion of Trump’s rise and crooked dealings, in which the book covers ground that’s fairly well established regarding his misconduct. She paints a bleak picture of the potential future with the current trajectory and this serves as a good ...more
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished Hiding in Plain Sight on the third day of 45’s second impeachment trial. More than anything else, I want to say that this book is still relevant and important and will remain so because it’s not just about 45. It’s about how complacency and apathy and corruption in politics, in the media, in foreign and domestic policy all coalesce to create an environment ripe for autocracy to bloom. All of these conditions still exist in the US and will continue to thrive unless they’re understood a ...more
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How does Sarah Kendzior manage to pluck these germs of ideas I have once had and manages to beautiful explain each and every facet I never even knew there was.

I borrowed this from the library, but will be sure to buy this one. Kendzior examines the past few years (sans the year of the pandemic) with such keen insight it's a wonder everybody doesn't immediately agree and lay their arguments aside.

Also being from Saint Louis, it's always a bit reassuring reading her work. Someone out there is sp
Jeffrey May
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kelptocracy In Plain Sight

Sarah Kendzior writes tight, powerful sentences, poetic and meme-ready quotes to be admired and emblazoned as precursors to action, the clarion calls that helped avoid an all too real impending crisis. If we all had her courage, wisdom, research skills, clarity of thought, and talent at concisely stating fact, the world might become a better place.

And I say this not just because I’m from her hometown. Her description of Missouri and St. Louis almost made me defensive; s
Jul 27, 2020 rated it liked it
I was super excited to read this book because I felt really uninformed about the history of Trump; and this book really delivers in this regard. Since the 80s, Trump has been allowed to behave with impunity and there were multiple agencies and people who allowed him to form his alliance with Russia, to commit fraud, to have ties with the mafia/organized crime - the list goes on.

My primary complaint about the audiobook is that it's narrated by the author - there were several times where it sound
Alisa Wilhelm
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, non-fiction, audio
5 stars because this book is an important documentation of the Trump era. Kendzior has a PhD in West Asian autocracies and returned to freelance journalism after many of the jobs in her field were eliminated. In this book she skillfully and clearly demonstrates the ties between individuals in Russia and the US government that goes back decades (she quips: "'It's all in public record!!' will be on my tombstone."). She has a secondary thesis in the book, which is to show that Trump voters and red ...more
Calvin Webster
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As crazy as times are now, and even crazier what the current admin is doing, Trump specifically, it has been hard to fully understand that what I am seeing and feeling and reading before my very eyes is really really true. So many questions that beg me to reconcile my worldview with the motivations of our current President. Sarah's book refocuses my understanding of this and gives a concise pathology for me to understand the motivations of Trump and how things are interrelated on a world stage. ...more
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I finished this tonight at about 1:30am during a bout of insomnia brought on by anxiety during the great covid 19 quarantine of 2020. Our feckless leader suggested that we use disinfectant inside the body and use in light on the skin of inside the body at a rally pretending to be a press briefing. This prompted Lysol to issue a statement on the safety of ingesting its product. (Not the best idea btw). The white house is now pushing the false narrative that he orange menace was being sarcastic.

Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you read one political book to gain an understanding of how we got to the place we now find ourselves in America, I highly recommend Sarah Kendzior's "Hiding in Plain Sight". Finished in a day as it is a quick read and very hard to put down. She documents what was happening in America alongside what Trump was doing throughout different decades to document the rise of kleptocracy in the United States. I found many parallels between what has happened in her home state of Missouri and my own as ...more
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Leave it to Sarah Kendzior to give us another quality researched political book - this time on a long history of how, what and why Trump came into power. As she famously says nothing is new, "it's all in the public records" - thankfully she has taken the time and effort to get into those records and produce an alarming history that has always been there in plain sight, but ignored by the majority of us for too long! My wish is this book gets read by everyone - those who, like me, hate what is ha ...more
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, audio-books, lit-nf
The author brought research that I was not aware of and history that I had forgotten because there is just so much going on with this president. It's too bad that much of what the author discusses is happening in front of our eyes, yet the media is not interested in reporting on it extensively. This book is a must read for background and context on current affairs. ...more
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Sarah Kendzior is best known for her reporting on St. Louis, her coverage of the 2016 election, and her academic research on authoritarian states.

With Andrea Chalupa, she hosts the podcast "Gaslit Nation".

She is currently an op-ed columnist for the Globe and Mail and she was named by Foreign Policy as one of the “100 people you should be following on Twitter to make sense of global events.”

Her r

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