... valuable ... Lichtman takes a welcome nonpartisan, straightforward approach to laying out Donald Trump’s repeated violations. Along with diagnosing those problems, the book recommends reasonable cures ... a thorough roundup on the threats to democracy that America faced in the past few years—and a useful road map for moving forward.
What sets Thirteen Cracks apart from the slew of books chronicling the abuses of the Trump administration is that Lichtman does not just identify those abuses, he provides solutions designed to prevent future presidents from following Trump’s example ... an academic work and sometimes makes for dry reading. More often Lichtman’s sentences, which are packed with quotes from everyone from Hannah Arendt and Jeremy Benthem to Walter Cronkite and the punk band Lard, convey a sense of urgency that keeps the reader engaged, and the writing throughout is impassioned and incisive ... Though some of the solutions in Thirteen Cracks are unlikely to be implemented, those that could be enacted would likely do much to safeguard the future of democracy in America ... the people who would benefit most from exposure to the ideas in Professor Lichtman’s book are more likely to see a tweet dismissing it as anti-conservative propaganda than they are to ever read it.
... well-informed if somewhat slapdash ... the proposed fixes, including the jailing of administration officials who defy Congress’s subpoena power, the creation of a special court to hear legal challenges to executive orders, and a constitutional amendment to make Senate representation population-based, don’t take the considerable obstacles such reforms would face into consideration. More enlightening are Lichtman’s discussions of the ways in which previous presidents laid the groundwork for Trump’s more flagrant violations of democratic norms ... Readers will learn more about the historic fault lines of American democracy than how to repair them.