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  • What Were We Thinking

  • A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era
  • By: Carlos Lozada
  • Narrated by: Christian Barillas
  • Length: 8 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic uses the books of the Trump era to argue that our response to this presidency reflects the same failures of imagination that made it possible.

As a book critic for The Washington Post, Carlos Lozada has read some 150 volumes claiming to diagnose why Trump was elected and what his presidency reveals about our nation. Many of these, he's found, are more defensive than incisive, more righteous than right. 

In What Were We Thinking, Lozada uses these books to tell the story of how we understand ourselves in the Trump era, using as his main characters the political ideas and debates at play in America today. He dissects works on the white working class like Hillbilly Elegy; manifestos from the anti-Trump resistance like On Tyranny and No Is Not Enough; books on race, gender, and identity like How to Be an Antiracist and Good and Mad; polemics on the future of the conservative movement like The Corrosion of Conservatism; and of course plenty of books about Trump himself. 

Lozada's argument is provocative: that many of these books - whether written by liberals or conservatives, activists or academics, Trump's true believers or his harshest critics - are vulnerable to the same blind spots, resentments, and failures that gave us his presidency. But Lozada also highlights the books that succeed in illuminating how America is changing in the 21st century. What Were We Thinking is an intellectual history of the Trump era in real time, helping us transcend the battles of the moment and see ourselves for who we really are.

©2020 Carlos Lozada. All rights reserved. (P)2020 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 22-11-2020

Useful book

A very thoughtful summary of the writing about the civic chaos of the last four years. The best part is the author's final list of twelve essential books, and his rationale for them.

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  • Lesleigh J. Owen
  • 27-12-2020

Intellectual Literature Review for the Trump Era

Any scholar will recognize the lit review format of this book. This is a powerful discussion and synthesis of some of the germinal books to emerge out of the Trump Era. The author divides the themes into chapters like immigration, conservatism, feminism, etc., and then analyzes and synthesizes the many books he read on the topics.
The writing is gorgeous and the author's voice dryly humorous, witty, and incisive. I don't agree with all his analyses, but I respect his breakdowns and subtle editorializing. A spectacular read (or listen).

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  • Shelley W
  • 02-03-2021

It lost me

While I was very drawn to the premise and the content--the author had read over 150 books about Trump--I had a hard time following it on Audible. The author is quite the loquacious writer, but the point got lost in the words for me. At the end of a long passage, I couldn't remember what the starting point was! Perhaps it would be easier to follow in print form. I returned the audiobook because I couldn't motivate myself to pick it up again after the first couple of chapters.

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  • Mr. Potter
  • 31-12-2020

Power Bar for the Intellectually Indolent

What more can you ask for? Mr. Lozada read 175 books and you get to pick up scores of pithy cocktail party tidbits in just one read. It's like an IV drip of Trump Info. On a broader, and somewhat more serious level... I got so vexed with Trump and the people who support him that I bought a stack of books on the subject. In what is here essentially a "meta study", Mr. Lozada is able sample many learned and diverse views, who all come to the same conclusion: Donald Trump is (at the end of the day) just a money grubbing white trash showoff who doesn't have an original idea in his bed-head comb-over head. Which, given the fact that we've made him President of our Country, makes him "the most dangerous man in History". (Thank you to Mary Trump for that pithy phrase) Of the varies books I've read on Trump the one that really sticks with me is (surprisingly) "Disloyal" by Michael Cohen. I was no fan of Michael Cohen and completely prepared to hate the book and throw it aside - but he has an very interesting personal story, is earnest and self examining of his relationship with Trump, is contrite and regretful of his many transgressions, and is a damn good old-style New York story teller. (e.g. "Donald Trump never prepares for anything - ever"!) I appreciate that economical style of writing. The big takeaway from "Disloyal" is that we're all overthinking Donald Trump. According to Cohen, it's always about the money. Trump is just a shallow vainglorious shell who judges his and everyone else's worth by their bank account. Putin is the wealthiest man in the world - so he's Trump's biggest hero. And on, and on...

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  • Asarchus
  • 02-12-2020

Great Sampler and Critique of Trump Literature

Carlos Lozada, a Pulitzer Prize-winning book reviewer, takes us on a wild ride through the hundreds of books written thus far on the Trump presidency, from fawning works of praise to blistering critiques. Nearly every volume published since 2015 when Trump infamously descended (!) the escalator in Trump tower to announce his candidacy and demean Mexicans is examined. Before you spend your money on a Trump foe or friend's "tell all" book, read Lozada's. You'll thank him for steering you to the few gems in a field of slag.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-01-2021

Thought Provoking

This boons was written before the 2020 election and subsequent misinformation campaign regarding election fraud. The events that have unfolded only make this an incredibly relevant read.

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