Featured Official Review: The Road to Trump by Shay McNeal

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Featured Official Review: The Road to Trump by Shay McNeal

Post by kislany » 10 Dec 2018, 04:54

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Road to Trump" by Shay McNeal.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The Road to Trump by Shay McNeal is a compilation of articles published in her column Meet You in the Middle, as part of the Charleston Mercury newspaper. As a side note, the current Charleston Mercury is not associated with the previous famous paper that ceased its publication in 1868.

The book includes monthly articles between September 2013 and October 2018, with topics ranging from Trump’s election and the Russian involvement to race issues, immigration, terrorism, ISIS, and thoughts on various politically related countries like Ukraine, China, North Korea, and Japan.

The author prefaces the book with the sentence “This is a very difficult column to write,” and I can empathize. Trump is a more controversial topic than anything else we’ve come across in the last 100 years in terms of American politics. Nothing gets people on both sides of the aisles more fired up than Trump’s presidency, and with good reason. Trump is an outsider, a former TV personality, and a businessman with no political knowledge or experience, whose decisions have been met with varying degrees of outcry across the globe.

Before picking up the book, I was not sure of the author's stance on Trump. As I started reading the articles, it became clear that she is a Trump supporter, despite the slightly controversial title. She is quite positive about the decisions he has taken during his presidency so far. For example, she notes how great the economy was in his first year compared to Obama’s first year by citing a New York Times opinion piece, which doesn’t mention that Obama inherited a broken economy, one involved in a huge recession, while Trump inherited a pretty solid and stable one. For a more accurate analysis, the comparison should have been done once the effects of the previous administrations have worn off (say, after two years).

She also mentions that
As of June 20, 2017, President Trump has signed into law 40 bills. By the third week of June the Obama administration had signed into law 24 bills. The Trump administration has signed more bills to this date than the four previous administrations.
However, just a few months later, a report dated December 21, 2017, by govtrack.us stated:
Trump has sunk to last place with 94 bills signed into law by his 336th day in office (today). That’s eight fewer than President George W. Bush and not even half as many as presidents Bill Clinton (209) and George H. W. Bush (242).
In addition, the book doesn’t discuss the importance of the signed bills. Some are essential, others are useful, while others are little more than window dressing, such as creating memorials and naming post offices. There is no breakdown on the importance of bills signed by Trump vs. previous presidents in her analysis.

Still, it was interesting to read towards the end of the book that she did begin to slightly criticize Trump for his extensive use of Twitter for personal rants, saying “We do demand more dignity and most hope that he will rise to that plea,” and for his cozy relationship with Putin (mentioning their closed-door meeting amidst the unfolding Russian collusion scandal).

Even though they are leaning towards the current administration, the monthly articles are quite in-depth, and for each topic, the author goes back to historical periods which somehow influenced the current climate, or to compare and contrast the two timelines. For example, in the article on immigration, Shay McNeal discusses its origins, starting with the Puritan settlements in New England, following with the Civil War, and then talks about current issues on immigration. Also, in the article on North Korea, the author takes us back to the history of the two Koreas, allowing us to better understand the complex relationships between North Korea, South Korea, the UN, China, Soviet Union, and, ultimately, the U.S.

Since The Road to Trump is not really a book but a collection of newspaper columns, the author could not have touched upon every major issue surrounding the Trump presidency (for example, the issue of climate change, his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and the immigrant children still separated from their parents). However, the included topics were analyzed quite thoroughly, such as the Brett M. Kavanaugh scandal, or the president’s contempt for the media “because of how he perceives his treatment from them.”

Touching on some heavy themes, the well-organized articles are written in a clear tone that allows the reader to understand each topic with ease. I did find a few grammatical and punctuation errors within the pages, but those were few and far in between.

Due to the extensive analysis of some important current topics and the professional editing, I give The Road to Trump 4 out of 4 stars. It is well-written, with coherent thoughts in each article, and with enough details included that no matter on which side of the platform you find yourself on, you will get something out of this book. However, for some of the topics I do recommend supplementing your reading with other, more updated sources as well.

I recommend the book to anyone who is eagerly following the current tumultuous American politics which, despite having an “America First” theme, also affects other countries around the world.

******
The Road to Trump
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Post by piecesfallapart » 10 Dec 2018, 14:15

I do not know if I will ever want to read a Trump book. Not because I am not interested in his life, or the way he does politics. As a Latina, I am interested. But like the author says, this is a topic and a person that makes writing (and reading) difficult.

I agree with you in the fact that Trump is a controversial topic, and I imagine this book is controversial. There is no way people can read about Trump and not make it controversial, whether you agree with the author or not; whether the author is being objective or not.

I am also grateful that you say that the author is a Trump supporter, because I know what to expect. And I have to be clear here, I do not believe every Trump supporter is xenophobic or racist or a bad person, but I would like to read a Trump analysis done by someone who is maybe an outsider, that recognized both the good and the bad in his administration and compares that (in the same way) to Obama's administration (or anyone else).

I like the analysis, and I like your review, but based on what you said about the target audience, I'm not sure if I fit in. Thank you.

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Post by gen_g » 11 Dec 2018, 03:40

Trump is definitely a controversial topic, but I'm glad that the author seems to have, for the most part, done much research. However, it is a pity that her basis of comparison seems slightly lacking (with the example you gave); Iike you mentioned, I personally don't think comparing the numbers alone without comparing context is accurate enough. I can't say I agree with many of Trump's policies, but I am definitely rather intrigued to know what what she thinks of him. Thank you for the objective and detailed review!

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Post by kandscreeley » 11 Dec 2018, 09:50

It's actually a relief to see someone on the other side of the argument about Trump. I've seen more anti Trump books than any other president. Still, I really try to avoid politics in books. I want to get away from it. Thanks for the review, but I'll pass.
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Post by kislany » 11 Dec 2018, 10:03

@piecesfallapart The reason I mentioned the author is a Trump supporter (although not overly so), is exactly for the reason that Trump is a very polarizing topic, and with him, there is no middle ground. You're either with him or against him. So I figured people would want to know the author's stand, especially since the book title doesn't give a hint at all.

@gen_g The author did her research, however, it is important to note that these are basically newspaper articles - opinion pieces, and in the current political climate, what is news today, tomorrow is long forgotten. So with the topic of Trump, one should always read updated information because the news is changing very fast these days. I did enjoy the author's glimpses into the past on the topics she chose to publish in the book.

@kandscreeley You're right, there are way more for-Trump books, for the very reason that he is probably the most controversial modern-times president in the Western world. And with all that's going on around him, especially recently (see the latest news, Maria Butina - the Russian spy - has also agreed to co-operate with the American authorities today re. the 2016 elections meddling), and with all the many indictments of this latest presidency, it's inevitable, really. For what it's worth, Obama turned out to be a really boring president - and who would want to write a lot of juicy stuff about boring presidents? :)

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Post by Eva Darrington » 13 Dec 2018, 16:13

Brave of you to take on a political book about the current president. It sounds like the articles have some really interesting history to offer, but I would grow tired pretty quickly of trying to fact check claims about supposed accomplishments of the administration. They are so often inflated, or just lies. Maybe this journalist has more equanimity than I'm crediting. It was a pleasure reading your review.
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Post by CatInTheHat » 13 Dec 2018, 17:08

I would have had a hard time not being biased if I'd reviewed this book. Job well done on the review!
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Post by kislany » 14 Dec 2018, 01:57

@Eva Darrington you're right, I did a lot of fact checking while reading the columns, but it's probably also because I'm very interested in what is going on today in the US, so I've been following the news (not only what Trump calls 'fake news') but the one from both sides, with interest. And some things that I've been reading in the columns were giving me a strange itch, so I had to look them up. However, most things were actually well addressed. Some were wrong simply because with Trump, every they there is something else going on, so current news become really outdated within days. So it was bound to happen.

@ CatInTheHat I admit, I did have a hard time remaining unbiased, and, in fact, I edited my review for the longest time, much longer than I would have taken my time with other reviews simply because I had to be careful how I phrased my sentences to be 'in the middle' as much as possible. Was not easy, though.

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Post by tayemikeonline12 » 19 Dec 2018, 10:15

To an extent this is a reflection of this government. However some few claims appear over-blotted on either side. I feel great reading the review too.

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Post by leibnizroma » 19 Dec 2018, 20:05

A book written by Trump's supporter,what can we expect form it? It is a great idea to write about a president like Trump but supporter or not,one must be objective.Trump is so contreversal that when I see the title of the book,I am not intersted in.I do not think that all his supporters are like him but we could not expect anything new from them.

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Post by Godwinbc0 » 20 Dec 2018, 01:51

It can be interesting, to know about it.

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Post by Ayat paarsa » 20 Dec 2018, 02:36

Good to listen that the author was in favor of Trump. One of my uncle (who lives in America) also told me that he is doing well for U.S economy. Specially his focus on the job provision to unemployed people is commendable.
Last edited by Ayat paarsa on 20 Dec 2018, 04:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Ayat paarsa » 20 Dec 2018, 02:56

kislany wrote: ↑
11 Dec 2018, 10:03
@piecesfallapart The reason I mentioned the author is a Trump supporter (although not overly so), is exactly for the reason that Trump is a very polarizing topic, and with him, there is no middle ground. You're either with him or against him. So I figured people would want to know the author's stand, especially since the book title doesn't give a hint at all.

@gen_g The author did her research, however, it is important to note that these are basically newspaper articles - opinion pieces, and in the current political climate, what is news today, tomorrow is long forgotten. So with the topic of Trump, one should always read updated information because the news is changing very fast these days. I did enjoy the author's glimpses into the past on the topics she chose to publish in the book.

@kandscreeley You're right, there are way more for-Trump books, for the very reason that he is probably the most controversial modern-times president in the Western world. And with all that's going on around him, especially recently (see the latest news, Maria Butina - the Russian spy - has also agreed to co-operate with the American authorities today re. the 2016 elections meddling), and with all the many indictments of this latest presidency, it's inevitable, really. For what it's worth, Obama turned out to be a really boring president - and who would want to write a lot of juicy stuff about boring presidents? :)
The books written on the political topics are always controversial. Your question, "who would want to write a lot of juicy stuff about boring presidents?", made me smile. It was, Mr. James Hanna, in the "Call Me Pomeroy". The book I recently reviewed. Just thought, but didn't write that "Sir! I know that politics is a boring topic but what was the need to make it so juicy?" That was truly unexplainable.
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Post by Princeuchenna56 » 20 Dec 2018, 09:02

Trumph is making himself outstanding It's actually a relief to see someone on the other side of the argument about Trump. I've seen more anti Trump books than any other president. Still, I really try to avoid politics in books. I want to get away from it. Thanks for the review, but I'll pass.

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Post by GPM » 20 Dec 2018, 21:16

gen_g wrote: ↑
11 Dec 2018, 03:40
Trump is definitely a controversial topic, but I'm glad that the author seems to have, for the most part, done much research. However, it is a pity that her basis of comparison seems slightly lacking (with the example you gave); Iike you mentioned, I personally don't think comparing the numbers alone without comparing context is accurate enough. I can't say I agree with many of Trump's policies, but I am definitely rather intrigued to know what what she thinks of him. Thank you for the objective and detailed review!
"A man learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people." - Will Rogers
Latest Review: "Puffy and the Formidable Foe" by Marie Lepkowski and Ann Marie Hannon

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