... engaging but flawed ... we can discern an underlying theme of Mr. Dallek’s thesis, not explicitly articulated and perhaps not even consciously embraced but lurking nonetheless in the interstices of his argument. It is that the voters are essentially stupid ... No, Reagan didn’t give us Mr. Trump, and neither did Teddy Roosevelt or any of his 20th-century successors. Mr. Trump’s rise, like that of every president, improbable or predictable, was the product of distinct political, cultural and social forces welling up from within America in his time. Mr. Dallek, declaring himself mystified by the question of how Mr. Trump got elected, ponders whether it was a 'fluke' or the product of 'something deeper in American society that spawned so unsuitable a character to become president.' Good question. This book, despite its title, doesn’t offer much of an answer.
Dallek does a good job of seeing the strengths of presidents he does not otherwise admire, and he also explores the weaknesses in those he does admire ... Informed and passionate words to bring cheers from Never Trumpers and no reaction from Trump fans, who won’t read it.
... brisk ... Though Dallek writes fluidly and packs his account with intriguing tidbits, he often fails to make the links between the current and previous administrations explicit, and his hesitancy to outright condemn Trump will strike liberals as a cop-out. Still, history buffs looking for reassurance that American democracy can survive Trumpism will find it here.