The niece of ex-President Donald Trump examines America's national trauma, rooted in our history but dramatically exacerbated by the impact of current events and the Trump administration's corrupt and immoral policies.
It is a less lurid read [than her last book] but a darker one too ... she delivers a bleak prognosis. The book is a mixture of family lore, history, policy and anger. As expected, Mary Trump’s disdain for her uncle is once again made clear ... Perhaps she is too pessimistic ... the US has undeniably progressed from where it stood 75 years ago, let alone 100 further back ... Mary Trump puts her positions passionately but perhaps she could pause to consider how such agendas play with voters.
... a blunderbuss rant about the evils of America ... Trump careens through American history, cherry-picking our worst moments, ignoring any mitigating factors ... A great rant can be cathartic, but it needs discipline. Trump is sloppy. There are no footnotes. Too many sentences contain half-truths and gross generalizations, unsupported by facts ... She sees American history as binary, Black and White; racism is the only lens she uses for analysis. Immigrants seem not to exist, and the fabulous success of their American experience, extending across all racial and ethnic categories, is never mentioned. Reading Trump, one might wonder why all those Italians, Jews, Mexicans, Pakistanis and Nigerians decided to come here. Worse, as a putative expert on Donald Trump, she misapprehends the reasons for her uncle’s momentary success: It was, in large part, a reaction to the social progress of the past 50 years, progress she refuses to acknowledge ... in writing The Reckoning, she has become the mirror image of her uncle—someone who exploits anger rather than trying to soothe it.
Readers seeking a self-help guide for facing and overcoming this nation’s traumatic history will be disappointed in The Reckoning. Charting a path forward is not its goal. The clinician in Mary Trump is seeking only to help us stop squirming and sit still long enough to turn inward—and stay facing inward until we recognize and whole-heartedly feel the extent of the traumas we and our nation have experienced and caused, from slavery to the COVID pandemic to political parties careening toward fascism while denying doing so ... She is saying that for this country to heal from its inarguably traumatic past, it is crucial to experience its pain: to feel anguish, sadness, and rage along with facing a recognition of being complicit in (perhaps unwittingly) traumatizing others by looking the other way. Such reflection involves a heroic effort of empathy and compassion for self and other in order that we share the pain of those who have been traumatized and, by joining with them and following their lead, become a nation that moves past mere trauma survival into post-traumatic growth.