3 out of 4 stars
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The Secret Letters of Donald J. Trump, 72 1/6 is a satirical book by Rudolf Hess (the author’s pen name). It is a collection of fictional letters “written” by President Donald Trump to various people, including politicians, family members, and celebrities. Unsurprisingly, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are represented here. However, some of the letter recipients are unexpected, such as Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There is also an explanation given by a fictional journalist about how the letters came into his possession.
President Trump’s tendency toward self-aggrandizement is on full display here. He frequently maligns the media’s treatment of him as “fake news,” even when writing to his son Barron’s teacher. It is clear that everything is all about him, whether he is discussing international politics or any mundane topic. What is interesting, and also very disturbing, is how similar these rambling letters are in style to Mr. Trump’s real-life tweets and press conferences.
Even though this is a fictional story, it is clear the factual references have been well researched. There are not-so-subtle references to media figures’ sexual harassment scandals (for example, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Roger Ailes). These details add flavor and lift the book beyond standard comedic fare.
The book is written in a stream-of-consciousness style. There are countless humorous moments, such as President Trump ordering the National Parks Department to put his face on Mount Rushmore. In his letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he compares their relationship to his grandparents’ secret love affairs. The funniest line in the book might be when President Trump states that “Don Jr. is up for the surprise of his life” in comments regarding his will.
The heart of President Trump’s boastful and “thin-skin” personality is captured well. Still, I became dizzy by all of the random complaints and endless pats on the back. Sure, the author might have hit the nail on the head, in the same way an impressionist does in a comedy routine. However, the egotistical ramblings became a bit much over the course of the entire book. It would have helped if there had been fewer and/or shorter letters.
Although there are a few minor errors in the book, the writing has a sophisticated quality. It is no easy feat to purposely write in a rambling style and, at the same time, craft an easy-to-understand narrative. While each letter goes wildly off topic, this appears to be the author’s intent in portraying President Trump’s nature.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is a witty read that is full of clever details. Some readers may be put off by the irreverent tone. However, I believe the general public has become somewhat immune to political satire, given the never-ending cycle of cable news and social media. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy political satire, particularly Democrats. It would probably not appeal to Republicans who enthusiastically support President Trump, as they may be sensitive to the way he is lampooned in this collection.
The Secret Letters of Donald J. Trump age 72 1/6
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