Overall, this readers’ bounty encapsulates how Americans all along the political spectrum are still processing and parsing the 2016 presidential election and the opening phase of the Trump presidency. Many of these first-draft-of-history books grapple with how Clinton’s seemingly sure shot turned into a Trump triumph. Here are a few of the competing, sometimes overlapping, explanations:
--The Clinton campaign’s destructive infighting, overreliance on data and lack of an overarching vision (Jonathan Allen & Amie Parnes’s Shattered).
--The evil genius of Steve Bannon and his populist ideology (Joshua Green’s smartly written and reported Devil’s Bargain).
--The brilliant political and policy instincts of Trump and Clinton’s insulting reference to his “basket of deplorables” (Ingraham’s Billionaire at the Barricades).
--The complex interplay of Rust Belt economic pain and white working-class cultural resentment, along with institutional impediments to democracy (One Nation After Trump, by E.J. Dionne Jr., Norman J. Ornstein, and Thomas E. Mann).
--“Whitelash” against the Obama era, liberal cultural elitism, and the Clinton campaign’s refusal to heed grassroots advice (CNN political commentator Van Jones’s Beyond the Messy Truth).
-- A resurgence of the unvarnished racism that has haunted American history (Coates’s We Were Eight Years in Power).
--The failure of Republicans to disassociate themselves from such bigotry and their tolerance of an alternative media universe unconstrained by facts (Sykes’s How the Right Lost its Mind).
--The country’s persistent historical disconnect from reality (Andersen’s Fantasyland).
--A pernicious hybrid of former FBI director James Comey’s October surprise, Russian election meddling, sexism and misogyny, and the media’s obsessive focus on Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state (Clinton’s What Happened).