It’s a title that, in its thoroughgoing lack of self-awareness, matches this book’s contents ... He betrays little cognizance that he was in demand because, as a landslide of other reporting has demonstrated, he was in over his head, unable to curb his avarice, a cocky young real estate heir who happened to unwrap a lot of Big Macs beside his father-in-law ... Breaking History is an earnest and soulless — Kushner looks like a mannequin, and he writes like one — and peculiarly selective appraisal of Donald J. Trump’s term in office. Kushner almost entirely ignores the chaos, the alienation of allies, the breaking of laws and norms, the flirtations with dictators, the comprehensive loss of America’s moral leadership ... This book is like a tour of a once majestic 18th-century wooden house, now burned to its foundations, that focuses solely on, and rejoices in, what’s left amid the ashes ... Reading this book reminded me of watching a cat lick a dog’s eye goo ... The tone is college admissions essay ... Kushner, poignantly, repeatedly beats his own drum ... A therapist might call these cries for help ... The bulk of Breaking History — at nearly 500 pages, it’s a slog — goes deeply into the weeds ... What a queasy-making book to have in your hands.
Kushner’s new memoir, Breaking History, does read like one long résumé. Kushner has a way of assuring the reader of his accomplishments that makes you doubt everything he says ... As Trump administration memoirs go—and I’ve read a ton of them—this one is pretty dull, with dashes of the obligatory score-settling and self-justification but precious little color ... He has no eye for character or flair for dish ... If this sounds a bit pathetic, it is. Breaking History features the many confident pronouncements of someone who can never quite convince you that he actually possesses any true confidence ... Kushner’s dishonesty about so much of the history of the Trump administration casts a shadow over the accomplishments he claims.
All memoirs are self-serving — it’s just a matter of degree. But Jared Kushner’s memoir, Breaking History, is, at its core, an extended news release that exists primarily to exculpate its author after his role in one of the most destructive presidential administrations of my lifetime. Any reader who’s inclined to plow through the more than 450 pages of often tedious and repetitive claims will, however, get a very good sense of what Kushner is really like — what he sounds like, how he views his interactions with others and what his values are ... In describing his work for the nation — the many roles he accumulated and then abandoned — he pretends to be imbued with a special understanding of Beltway jargon, where the purview of a particular bureaucrat is referred to as a 'file.' In Kushner’s telling, everyone wants to keep giving him more files because, like his father-in-law, he is the only person who can swoop in and fix a problem. (My 7-year-old son, a big Marvel fan, recently asked me what a hypothetical worst superhero would look like, and I now have an answer) ... What Kushner’s book really is, however, is a portrait of a man whose moral compass has been demagnetized ... Kushner comes across as an overconfident tyro who condescendingly feeds uninformed advice to professionals with far more wisdom and expertise than he will ever have. The Kushner-as-savior narrative is buttressed throughout with flattering quotes from a handful of colleagues and his father-in-law ... Kushner has an ease with blaming others for problems that he or the White House caused ... The memoir is a burn book of sorts, heavily populated by petty grievances and conflicts that could have easily been avoided with less ego and more maturity ... While insisting he doesn’t need credit, Kushner takes credit for the hard work of others ... If he were a different person, he could have written an insightful memoir, and one that would serve the public. But if he were a different person, his time in the White House would have been very different, too. His relationship with his father is complex and formative, in a way that somewhat mirrors Trump’s relationship with his own father. That alone is material for an honest, fascinating memoir ... a litany of petty fights, a constant takedown of enemies and a cascade of self-aggrandizing prattle.
Kushner has written (to the extent that he actually wrote it himself) a terrible book, but one not necessarily worse than those regularly written by upper-level bureaucrats without storytelling abilities or intellectual interests. 'The story that follows is not your typical White House memoir', Kushner declares at the outset, in one of the first of many laughable conceits ... a public relations exercise meant to enshrine the importance, diligence and success of its author and subject, the former president’s son-in-law and most-important adviser. It is a book that only the author himself could truly like (and pleasing the author is a ghostwriter’s first responsibility). Such books exist as perks of, or finishing touches to, government service, a line on a résumé, an addition to a personal library (not infrequently a one-book library) and a calling card that can be pleasantly inscribed – say, to Gulf sovereign wealth fund investors. It is a genre of book usually and graciously ignored by the wider world, rather than pilloried. What is at issue, in other words, is not the book: it is the man ... In a way Breaking History is emblematic of one of the traits that have so infuriated so many since Kushner stepped out of his hermetic Manhattan social world to become a major political presence: the tone-deafness with which he has carried on his astonishing ascent. At least his father-in-law never presumed to want respectability. Kushner, on the other hand, during his four years in the White House, seemed in a constant state of woundedness that he wasn’t adequately appreciated for, as he outlines in his book, his sagacity, maturity, forbearance, statesmanlike mien and interests, and eye on the long game. He may have had a point about the long game ... Amid the self-serving malarkey, first-person hogging of the central stage and execrable prose, Kushner’s book seems to have three key purposes. The first is to assign blame for his bad press and worse reputation ... I can offer a catalogue of Kushner’s breathtaking, preposterous revisions ... Everything about his life and career defies normal, meritocratic, political, even ideological sense – he is just not a serious or even plausible figure. In Breaking History he has done little or nothing to dispel the transparently obvious fact that he is unprepared, entitled and hideously opportunistic (even in an age of shameless opportunism), and nor, it seems, has he really bothered even to try to. (Instead he guilelessly outlines his career of overt and intensive social climbing.) But however improbable he might be, his eye is always on the prize.
Kushner’s new memoir is nothing if not an attempt to exorcise those patrimonies—a nearly five-hundred-page book composed with all the beige rage not of a pezzonovante, a Big Shot, but of a Li’l McKinseyite consultant whose disciplined loyalty to family management would be admirable, or at least capable of eliciting sympathy from me, had he been a private citizen and not a public servant. Call it a bleaching, a blanching, a prose laundromat set to whitewash out all stain—Kushner’s tome isn’t interested in convincing you that, say, banning travel from certain majority-Muslim countries was a smart and useful move, or that opening detention facilities along the Mexican border was a forced-hand but efficient measure, or that the FBI’s Russia investigation was grotesquely overblown and conclusively wasteful, so much as it’s interested in convincing you that Jared Kushner is a decent guy, and that his father Charles Kushner is a decent guy, and that the Don(ald) himself, he’s a good dude too, and Ivanka, well, if you’re ever lucky enough to meet her, she’ll take your breath away ... Primed by this sludge, I was disappointed when the book that finally arrived turned out to be as salacious as…thyroid cancer, with Wikipedic summaries of geopolitical disputes interspersed with analyses of the soft power that can be communicated through the size of luncheon buffets and motorcade honor guards ... If this banality is the inevitable product of an author writing as a devoted son, it’s also the product of an author writing as a devoted son-in–law—especially as a son-in-law to one of the most powerful men in the world who’s not exactly known for his tolerance of criticism or capacities for introspection and forgiveness. I feel for Kushner, I’m saying. I don’t want to, but I do. The task he had before him was insane: to write a book that rehabilitated his own family while not alienating the family he married into, which controls a vast direct-to-consumer sales network that can virtually guarantee best-sellerdom. That Kushner nonetheless embraced this crazy task must be taken as a mark of his narcissism, or his ego-neediness—of how desperate he is for redemption ... Kushner’s portrayal of their coupledom reads like a relationship guide written by AI, a flashback montage starring sexless amnesiacs on date-night, chasing gentrification and tailed by paparazzi.
The achievements that Kushner claims are fair game for political litigation, as they were in the 2020 campaign. What is not fair or honest is a memoir from someone so close to Trump in which there is not a word on how infirm, corrupted and dysfunctional Trump was. Kushner served with four chiefs of staff, four national security advisers, and more than 30 cabinet secretaries. Who is responsible for that chaos? The president, but Kushner sees nothing but anodyne executive excellence.
The colorless Trump functionary fails to inspire in a look-at-me memoir ... When it works, he gets the credit; when it doesn’t, others are to blame. The author risks dislocating his shoulder patting himself on the back ... Bland, dutiful, self-serving, and unconvincing.