Friday, December 23, 2016

Booknote: Trump: a Graphic Biography

Ted Rall, Trump: a Graphic Biography. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-60980-758-0.

Genre: graphic novels and comics
Subgenre: biography, politicians, celebrities, nonfiction
Format: paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

Before I go on, I will note that I read this before the 2016 election.

Ted Rall is also the author of Bernie (link to my review), a biography in graphic novel form about Bernie Sanders.  Rall does a really good with these small books; as I read this one, I found myself wishing he had one for Hillary Clinton too. I picked the Trump book pretty much because I liked the Bernie book. It was well worth it. The Trump book is an easy and accessible read that still packs a lot of substance. If you want to learn more about the man, and you want to do so in a colorful, entertaining way, this is the book for you.

The book begins with a brief history and background of the United States, just enough to give readers context of the last two decades or so. As I've blogged about before (just check any blog post in my series "Signs the Economy is Bad"), poverty has always been an issue in the U.S., but it became a "problem" when white middle class privileged people, who always felt untouchable, suddenly  began to lose their houses and livelihoods in the recent recession. We get to see the conditions that answer how Trump could rise as GOP nominee (and now President-elect of the United States).

After the opening, the book looks at Trump and his life from childhood to today. The book is arranged by thematic chapters looking at things like his business dealings, the women in his life, his reality show, his politics, so on. We get a pretty complete picture of the man with plenty of facts to support claims. The book does include a full set of notes so you can check sources.

From the book, we get a bit of complexity about the man. Yes, he is a big show man, loud and brash, but, at least according to those close to him, a friendly kind of guy who has also managed to stay on friendly terms with his ex-wives and, at least according to his children, a good father. Some may wonder about that contradiction. Rall does not really answer, letting readers decide. But, as nice as he can be at home, he has done some seriously shady deals (to put it mildly) and has shown himself as an authoritarian con man.

The book is an easy and accessible read. It's packed with information, but it is presented in a light way, so you get to learn and be a bit entertained. The art combines Rall's cartoons with some photos and a chart or two all to bring the story to life. I really enjoyed this one. Libraries will definitely need to put this in their collections. I know this  is one I would add to my personal collection. Even if you do not support Mr. Trump, this is a book worth reading, and I was glad it was available just in time for the 2016 elections. As a final note, if you enjoyed Bernie, odds are very good you will like this too.

5 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:

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