“There is no end to the number of people who think their experience with the Trumps warrants a book deal.”

From a lithub.com feature headlined “The Ten Biggest Literary Stories of the Year”:

5. There were 389837592385292384 books about Trump.

This year we saw a very regrettable book genre emerge: that of the Trump tell-all. They came from former members of the administration in an apparent play for respectability outside of the Trump circle; they came from people tangentially connected to the president and the First Lady that claimed to have inside knowledge of their past; they came from within the Trump family itself.

Just as there seems to be no end to 2020, there is no end to the number of people who think their experience with the Trumps warrants a book deal. (One book, adjacent to the genre, stands out: Bob Woodward’s Rage, a follow-up to his 2018 book Fear, which was not a tell-all but still deserves a mention here for its claim to reveal new information about a presidency to which there is no end of shocking new details.)

Their existence has led to lengthy legal challenges. Michael Cohen, the president’s former attorney, claims he was sent back to prison to prevent him from writing Disloyal, a memoir about his time working for the president. Former national security advisor John Bolton has been sued by the Justice Department over his memoir The Room Where It Happened, as they claim that he did not cooperate during a government review process of the manuscript; unsurprisingly, his legal team, along with the review board that oversaw that process, disputes that account. Mary Trump, the president’s niece, authored a wildly popular book about their family that prompted a lawsuit from Robert Trump, the president’s brother; ultimately, a judge ruled she would be allowed to move forward.

Ultimately, these books were entertainment; they were mostly notable for the giant gap between what they claimed to contribute to the political discourse versus what they actually accomplished, which was nothing, apart from book sales. At their best, they contextualized this administration with details that are horrifying enough to warrant our attention; still, the fact that some of those details were strategically withheld from Congress, while later appearing in a book, is a good enough argument for killing this genre forever. We should see these books for what they are: a stop on an apology tour, an ego trip, or, at best, a distraction from the meaningful work of moving forward.

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