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In Trump's Shadow

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In Trump’s Shadow by David M Drucker is a look into those he sees as the front runners for the upcoming presidential race. This book is a good way to prepare yourself for the upcoming campaign. It covers, in depth, Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, former Rep Will Hurd, former VP Mike Pence, former Ambassador/Governor Nikki Haley, Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former President Trump. While this is not a book about the former President, it is about the future of the GOP. The author describes where their strengths and weaknesses lie. This is a well researched, fact based book about some of the most likely contenders to run for President in 2024. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Republican 2024 presidential race. Thanks to NetGalley and Twelve Books publisher for giving me the chance to read this ARC.

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I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley and I was excited to read it, thinking it would give me a greater understanding of the Republican party, and perhaps if I’d been able to finish it, it would have. Alas, I will never know.

I’m embarrassed to say, I managed to read the first chapter and then decided I could not read the rest without becoming completely disgusted. I think the part that clinched my opinion was when Drucker listed Trump’s accomplishments. I’d always wondered what his supporters considered his “many” accomplishments, but I think finding out is worse than not knowing.

“Incidentally, Trump’s accomplishments in the White House, and commitment to his campaign promises, are an underappreciated facet of the fanatical support he has enjoyed inside the party…” He then goes on to list his accomplishments which only served to transport me back to the past and the anger and frustration I felt with each of his “accomplishments.” The tax code, which favors the rich (like himself). The construction of a wall at the Southern border, a border based on fear-mongering, which sometimes ran through peoples’ properties and divided wildlife passages, and was hotly contested by many who live along the border. Moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, effectively giving the middle finger to every religion not Jewish or Christian. Withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, thereby providing Iran with the opportunity to pursue their nuclear program unimpeded and unobserved. Withdrawing from the Paris climate accords, something that had provided hope to those of us who are extremely concerned about the lack of movement toward developing a solution to the damage we continue to do to the earth. Appointed hundreds of conservatives to the federal judiciary, something which Mitch McConnell’s machinations made possible and which threatens to force us back to a time before equality for women and civil rights.
And then there’s Operation Warp Speed, for which I would like to give him credit, except for the fact that he tossed Obama-era pandemic protocols, which could have hampered the initial spread, and did not develop any infrastructure for the distribution of said vaccines. This is not to mention some of the most egregious actions of his administration, including ignoring the potential severity of the disease for fear it would adversely affect his reelection, delegating responsibility to individual states to secure PPE, forcing them to bid against one another to drive up the prices, and allowing his son-in-law, Mr. "The notion of the federal stockpile is that it's supposed to be our stockpile. It's not supposed to be states' stockpiles that they then use," in clear violation of anti-nepotism guidelines, to oversee the distribution of federal resources. Then there was the Covid Relief Fund which Congress specified should be protected from Mr. Trump and his cronies, but which he and his cronies immediately commandeered and raided for their own benefit.

I thought this book might help me to understand some of the Republicans in my life, but after reading one chapter, I realize it might be better if I don’t because I want to hold onto what little respect for them that I have left. I’m giving this book three stars because it’s not terribly written, even if the subject matter is repulsive to me and I found it was slightly biased toward the Republican party. It’s better than if it were written by someone opposed to the party, but the positive spin placed on negative actions/beliefs/whatever was too much for me to tolerate. I was expecting more of an expose-style narrative regarding Trump’s influence on the Republican party, but this seemed more like a blueprint for their success in coming elections. It may be well-written, but I cannot read enough to ascertain whether that’s the case.

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I actually enjoyed reading this. Usually political books are dry reads, especially books about Trump and the modern day ReTrumplican party but this one was a well researched book about some of the most logical contenders to possibly run for President in 2024 should Trump himself decide not to run. After reading about the contenders, I have a much more positive outlook for the Republican Party. I’m an Independent voter and usually vote for a persons policies and not the person themself but after Trump’s total and complete lack of integrity and moral character, I no longer separate the two. This book chooses the candidates that have a chance in 2024 and outlines their bios, campaign style, issues and their support (or lack of) of Trump and his methods. He writes about Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Larry Hogan, Ted Cruz, Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence and Nikki Haley. He also discusses the Never Trumpers. Overall, I liked this book and the writing style of the author. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Republican 2024 presidential nominee selection. My only complaint is that in each section the author jumps foreword and backwards in time during the 2016 campaign and the 2020 campaign and so at times the narrative wasn’t smooth but that is a minor glitch. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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An interesting overview of the field of potential 2024 GOP presidential contenders. Drucker takes a more-or-less deep dive into the bios, characters and accomplishments of Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Larry Hogan, Ted Cruz, Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, and the Never Trump movement in general (with some particular focus on Will Hurd and Evan McMullin). If you want to know more about these figures, especially from a sympathetic-but-not-sycophantic point of view than you'll find in many places online (Drucker at times in the book styles himself as a Reagan Republican, with the dismay toward Trumpism etc. that implies but broadly in agreement with the more traditional values of the party), this is a good place to start. Each of them receives a candid look at why they might decide to run for president, why they might be <i>qualified</i> to run for president at all, and what challenges they would have to overcome to win a primary -- not least the lurking presence of the focus of the book's last chapter, Donald Trump himself.

You'll note I didn't include some people like Greg Abbott, Josh Hawley, Ron DeSantis, and Kristi Noem in the list of "potential candidates" the book covers. Drucker acknowledges the book is not comprehensive, and does give a brief rundown of some of the bigger names he didn't include. Some (like Hawley and DeSantis) he explicitly believes won't run, some (like Ben Sasse or Liz Cheney) he doesn't think would be successful. Some, like Noem, he seems to have just run out of time or space to cover. Which is fine, you can't include everybody, but I will be very interested to see how his list of serious contenders maps to the actual primaries a few years from now. As such, the book might age poorly, but for right now it's an informative primer.

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4.5 stars. I absolutely loved the experience of reading this book, but -.5 stars for making me overly attached to Republicans. Drucker is amazing at creating compelling characters out of bland, scary, or unlikeable people. The book focused mostly on the political maneuvering, ignoring policy, which made it less depressing--it was easy to forget about the policies I disagree with. Super interesting read. Posted on goodreads

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Drucker is a well-informed, savvy political analyst and reporter, particularly with respect to GOP politics. The book is a good primer on the state of the GOP after Trump and the challenges it faces as 2024 approaches. Definitely recommended for any political junkie looking for their next reading fix.

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