And the Storming of the Presidency - Donald Trump

By Joshua Green

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
geri ayn
Without going into much detail, while I follow this sort of thing as best I can, I learned a lot about what went into the campaign. The bottom line is that I learned that Trump's victory was not a fluke. .
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
boyan
Donald Trump has been in the White House for six months as I write. His approval rating today (July 25, 2017) stands at 38.9%, according to an average of national polls on Nate Silver's widely read blog, FiveThirtyEight. His disapproval rating is nearly 20 points higher. These numbers establish him as the most unpopular president since World War II as measured six months into his term (although Gerald Ford came close because of his pardon of Richard Nixon). Meanwhile, Trump's major initiatives—the ban on Islamic refugees, the plan to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it, the pledge to spend $1 trillion on rebuilding infrastructure, and the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act—have all failed to gain traction so far. Given all that, combined with his proclivity to lash out in fury at friend and foe alike, Donald Trump has become the Republican Party's worst nightmare (not to mention the rest of us)..

The new book Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by BloombergBusinesweek senior national correspondent Joshua Green attempts to explain both why the notoriously self-promoting developer and reality-TV star came to be in the White House—and why his presidency is failing. The case Green makes, singling out alt-right provocateur Steve Bannon for a large measure of the responsibility, is persuasive if not entirely convincing. He writes, "Trump needed him. Practically alone among his advisers, Bannon had had an unshakable faith that the billionaire reality-TV star could prevail—and a plan to get him there." At another point, Green notes that "Trump wouldn't be president if it weren't for Bannon." However, whenever an analyst looks for a single explanation for a complex historical event, it's always best to view it with a skeptical eye. History is rarely so easily explained. If there is anything close to a single explanation for the chaos, incompetence, and amoral behavior in the White House, it lies in the singular personality of Donald Trump himself.

In Devil's Bargain, Green weaves together three stories: the unfolding of Trump's presidential campaign before Steve Bannon took charge during its last two months; how Bannon came to hold the extremist beliefs he professes; and how the relationship between Trump and Bannon grew, matured, and eventually cooled. The focus is on the election campaign, with an insider's description of the Trump campaign on election night, November 8, 2016, opening and closing the book. Green writes well, star journalist that he is. Though a good deal of what he writes has come to light in press reports during the past year and a half, Green tells the tale well. It's full of personal observations that could only have come from the players themselves.

In a recent post, Why Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election, I reviewed Shattered, two other journalists' take on the election, but from the perspective of the Clinton campaign. Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes found the explanation for Clinton's loss in the character and the conduct of the candidate herself. By contrast, Green leans toward viewing Steve Bannon as primarily responsible for Trump's victory. Just as Allen and Barnes overlooked the four decades of the country's steady drift rightward, Green seems to underestimate the role Donald Trump himself in winning the presidency. It's clear to me that Trump possesses limited intelligence, but he is unquestionably shrewd and manifests unusually sharp political instincts (even if he doesn't often follow them as president).

In Green's view, Bannon believes most of what he professes. He seems to think that Trump believes very little of what he says.  For example, Green observes that when Trump met Bannon, "his views changed. Trump took up Bannon's populist nationalism." At another point he notes, "Trump ran against the Republican Party, Wall Street, and Paul Ryan, but then took up their agenda." Certainly, Trump's views have flip-flopped again and again, and Green documents many specific instances in which Trump clearly took a stand on an issue strictly because it helped advance his campaign. But Green overlooks the pattern of Trump's virtually nonstop lying. It's difficult to tell whether the erstwhile reality-TV star believes in anything at all other than his own importance.

Devil's Bargain may not be the last word on one of the most important presidential elections in American history. But in the absence of anything even more authoritative, it's an excellent beginning.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ashlea
Josh Green has written a very good account of the most troublesome presidential election since 1900 - maybe ever, given its effects on the country. After Trump leaves it will take a decade to undo his damage. My hope is that he will be impeached, if not indicted beforehand by Mueller. Democrats will have a good chance of winning back the House in 2018. All this being said, Steve Bannon remains a formidable force in the off-year election and Josh has given us a headsup about his potential influence.
and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win - Secret Meetings :: A Post-Apocalyptic Dragon Romance (Fireblood Dragons Book 4) :: Understanding Trump :: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency :: Fury of Fire (Dragonfury Series Book 1)
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
marquitta
I was looking for a book that explains what I consider Steve Bannon's insane nihilist views. I can't say this book gave it to me but it does provide some good background on his life experience. Smart, scrappy, and decidedly blue collar, he scratched and clawed his way to wealth and power and did it his own way. The Navy, Goldman Sachs, his own businesses, Brietbart and finally the White House. He has really built a resume. Now he thinks he can make a better world by tearing the whole thing down? Or is he just a talented guy who can't get past the massive chip on his shoulder and is making us all endure his lifelong tantrum? I still don't have that answer but this book is worth reading if you are as perplexed by Bannon as I am. Can't say I learned much about Trump, don't care to waste many words on him and neither does Joshua Green. More chapters need to be written on this crazy piece of history.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura leone
Wow - the thin veneer of civilisation is certainly peeling away revealing the 'Dark Side.' Fascinating even the reviews of this book are polarised. A well written and very clear account. Of course people will either hate this or respect it. As a non USA citizen I have no emotional connection so purely look at the logic. We should all be very very afraid. I sincerely hope that the checks and balances within the Constitution and Governance will prevail. Good luck.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anne eliot
I do not share the author's anti-Trump viewpoint BUT!!!!! the book is a well written fast read and very insightful, so I bought and read it last night (I'm in the middle of it). Very good read and lots of inside baseball. Much better than the dramas TV tries to sell you on everyday. Highly recommended. If you like dramas, you'll love this book. Can't say enough good stuff about it.
(I also like the author's writing style.)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
david ouillette
Chronicles a dark period in American presidential elections.
Trump and his band of alt-right junk yard dogs used every dirty trick in the book.
Comey's announcement that the FBI was reopening the Clinton email investigation, seemed to be the final nail in the coffin.
A very illuminating read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
helio
Oh. My. Goodness. So many questions answered. Joshua Green's words won't help you rest easier at night or calm your fears for the future of the United States of America but read it anyway. Preserve your copy so your grandchildren will understand what and how this hurricane of hate changed the process of choosing and electing a president.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
chris walsh
"Trump ran against the Republican Party, Wall Street, and Paul Ryan, but then took up their agenda. Populists often struggle to govern.
But Trump scarcely attempted to lead the populist revolution he promised" (p. 240). Neither did Huey Long. So what else is new? No
populist has ever kept his word, not even Williams Jennings Bryan, who ended up working for Woodrow Wilson. Populism is nostalgic
hypocrisy writ large, both here and abroad. It is always a veil and a cover for vested interests, be it oil monopolies, drug cartels, agribiz,
and its own scarcely concealed fascism and imperialism. Unfortunately, this book ends where it should begin. As a result, it relies on
gossip, anecdotes and extensive accounts of infighting, rather than on historical acumen, political insight and comprehensive research.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeff munnis
Helped me understand the rise of Trump and the role Bannon plays. Of course, this is a scary book, but every day under Trump is really frightening. Lately, watching Trump rallies and the Russian probe I wonder when or if this will ever end.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
denise cormaney
If you’re a political neutral looking to understand a polarizing political figure, look elsewhere. Here, you get a cursory look at Bannon, and the same postmortem of the election that’s been chronicled better elsewhere (see: Shattered). Google his name, find a few long reads, and skip this.

Side note: The Afterword is so laughably biased that it will make you question everything you just read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
quentin pain
A very good and very quick read to understand the Trump/Bannon marriage. These two were like the perfect storms meeting to defeat Clinton. Comey's curious sabotage of Clinton 's campaign and subsequent firing by Trump deserves it's own book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sue goodrich phillips
Considering what Bannon is attempting to do to our country and democracy, it behooves everyone concerned about America to find out as much as possiible. You don't have to read *this* book to do that, but this is an excellent place to start because the portrait it paints of the man is truly, truly frightening. Amorality, ego and bigotry are a bad (bad) combination, especially when power is thrown into the mix and *that* is (at least my) take on Bannon after reading this work.

If you think that you know this book from the author's media tour and without reading it, you really don't. because you can't appreciate the *enormity* of Bannon's disturbing personality that's displayed throughout this work. Overall, what I found most disturbing is that Bannon seemed unabashedly candid. Bannon KNEW that Green was doing this book and that Green was recording his observations and Bannon *still* displayed (what he must have know were) an avalanche of these horrible, negative qualities. Continually. Green didn't intend this as an expose and it certainly isn't written in this style but it's as if Bannon *wanted* this picture painted of him.

Bannon truly doesn't seem to care who knows about his views and it's as if he's daring someone to stop him. You honestly have to read the book to understand.

Would I buy this book again? In effect, I *did*. I read someone else's copy and I bought my own; both because I wanted to reward Green for his excellent work AND because I wanted to read this again.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
letty
It explains what happened concerning Trump and Bannon, but it does not go into broader detail why Steve Bannon achieved so much power so quickly and why people should be concerned. Just states what is in the popular American discourse.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
omid
Well, who knew that reckless potty mouth Steve Bannon is a genius and intuitive visionary of the highest water

Only problem is that what he appears to think he wants to preserve, he is the very embodiment of destruction for

He serves its demise being an emblem or personification of destruction. Then, too, he thinks we are still in the Kali Yuga, so, destroy is what to do.

Steve, you missed the intro to Holy Science. Look again

This is a great book and I hope the publisher will soon give us Comey's.Or some publisher.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
telza
Quick and enjoyable read. Surprisingly balanced - the author def makes it a point to give Bannon and Trump credit where credit is due. It's very easy to write Bannon as just some evil monster but he actually comes off as a smart, very focused and normal dude. (A normal dude whose viewpoints I vigorously disagree with.) As a passionate HRC supporter, I found this book deeply fascinating and only occasionally traumatic/sad.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
maura hallam
I hate Trump. I hate Bannon. But I figured I should find out how this unholy alliance got going and I wasn't disappointed. This is a terrific piece of reporting and kept me fascinated throughout. Bannon is a genius...a incredibly evil genius...and maybe a candidate not as awful as Hillary could have beaten him and prez tweet. But the scary thing is maybe not, and I fear that Bannon will still be around for 2020. As for prez tweet, he's an idiot-savant, in it totally for himself, but idiot enough to be led by Bannon. Great book. Made me fear for my country even more.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
phillip korkowski
This feels like a Steve Bannon plug. Not all good for him, but all about him. He's front and central. Doesn't seem accurate, feels more like promotion. Now, with history behind us, we find out that he isn't front and central any more.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
emmey
The only magic involved in the Trump victory, was the brilliantly crafted and executed ideological program by business opportunist, conspiracy theorist, and fringe ideologue, Steve Bannon.

Bannon’s genius, as Trump’s campaign Consigliere, lay in recognizing that Trump, not Michelle Bachman or Sarah Palin, was the perfect empty vessel to dump — lock, stock and barrel — his cheap racist ideology and conspiracy theories, into. Together he and Trump were larger than the sum of their respective parts.

The timing, unfortunately enabled by the even emptier post-Obama vessel call the Democratic Party, was a serendipitous gift. Bannon had just accidentally managed to pick the low hanging fruit from the trees of both empty political parties, and with them, he hijacked the 2016 election. In a perfect storm of unlikely circumstances, Bannon willed Trump to victory.

This book, in excruciating and at time insufferable and infuriating details, tells how it was done.

First of all, Hillary Clinton was “spot on” about the “vast right wing conspiracy,” she just missed how vast it was, how well financed it was, and got its age of maturity wrong. It unfolded in full blossom in 2016 on her watch, right before her own lying democratic eyes.

During the last days of the campaign, Bannon’s “DJT juggernaut” rumbled through the rust belt like proud Mary’s big wheel, picking off the votes that had been left lying on the ground between the cyclone of destruction left by the decades-long rape by the greedy industrialists and the false promises of Obama’s hope and change.

There simply was nothing complicated about it? The two political parties had so refined their “mutually agreed and assured self-inflicted destruction con game” against the lower classes, that now they thought it was ready to be applied to the white lower classes just as it had been done for decades to the black inner cities.

But unlike the blacks, when the chickens came home to roost, the poor whites were having none of it. They balked and went to the polls in droves to vote for the “self-proclaimed outsider” Donald J. Trump. With all the heavy-lifting having already been done by GOP gerrymandering, when the dust finally settled, Bannon’s carnival barker had been maneuvered into an electoral college vote majority.

Trump himself was as shocked as he was unprepared for his new unearned job. We now had a president, who had graduated from Wharton, without having ever read a book in his life?

The dems were left to lick their wounds and pick up the pieces. But to this day, they are still admiring an ideal reflection of themselves in the ever-lying mirror, mirror on the wall — caught in the same time warp and deep denial that the GOP has found itself in.

In the meantime the country had changed dramatically for the worse, since by mutual agreement, the two political parties had formed a condominium to “rig” and then to “game” the political system so that it only benefited the rich and themselves.

With K-Street quid pro quos that lined their pockets as visible as the street walking whores on the opposite side of the street, it was easy enough to see that their "real job" was taking some form of graft in exchange for not fixing the people's problems. They even admitted that they spend 75% of their time "raising money," that is to say, "being pimped out" by their corporate paymasters.

“Blame the other side gridlock” was the global rationalization for why decade after decade none of the people's business was getting done, Yet, the politicians and Wall Street were having a financial field’s day. They both were getting richer and richer by the minute.

The stock market keeps soaring while the opioid crisis gets more alarming and the poor keeps getting poorer. Obama's first speaking engagement after he left eight years of doing nothing was just short of a half a million dollars, twelve times the annual salary of an American worker?

While nothing was being done for the new poor, the old middle class that is, the things the rich needed were consistently and continuously getting done. There were incessant rounds of tax cuts amounting to several trillion dollars, regulations were lax enough to allow obscene amounts of capital to be accumulated and carted off by the wheel barrows and sheltered offshore. The money was shipped along in the same boats with the jobs that used to be the mainstay of the heartland.

Exactly no one any longer trusted the political class and their rigged system of games. The two political parties had rendered democracy in America completely dysfunctional, a dead letter.

The p***y-grabbing man-child carnival barker, turned Reality show host, had taken due note, and accordingly, transformed himself once again, this time into a grotesque post-modern snake oil salesman, and a treasonous lapdog of Vladimir Putin. Bill Maher has a depiction of Trump and Putin on a boat trip that tells the story much better than I ever could. Everyone will want to see Trump doing the people's business even while he and Putin are on vacation together.

Like the democrats and the republicans he pretended to loath, like Obama, Trump too would now make promises he could not possibly keep: promises to fix Dodd-Frank, repeal NAFTA, repeal and replace Obamacare, bring coal jobs back, stop crime in the inner cities, bring the off-shored money back, get us out of the climate change agreement, stop illegal immigrants from coming in, and most of all “build a wall” between Mexico and the US?

But as dubious as these goals were, everyone knew that Donald John Trump was a shyster. And lying, preening and conning his way, was just his natural state. Like the scorpion riding the back of the tortoise in the famous parable -- and then luring him out into the deep water, where he would eventually poison the tortoise, and drown them both, in an act of murder/suicide, Trump too began early bitting and poisoning the very hand that fed him, the poor whites, the Alt-right, Hillary's "basket of deplorables," all those scared little white men who wanted their country back.

Why is it that poor white's never learn, never quite get it? Don't they know that billionaires look out for other billionaires even one whom the club has rejected, and not for them? Don't they know that racist wedge politics has been the name of the game since Bacon's Rebellion of 1676? Don't they know that there are no known cases in American political history, where billionaires even as crude and as unorthodox as Trump, will look out for scared little white men?

It just doesn't happen. Wake up, little scared white men! This is not a Hitler Reality Show? Hitler had a dog; but Trump is the dog -- Putin's lapdog if you need to know his exact pedigree.

So, whether he could accomplish these impossible and dubious goals or not, was no longer the issue with America's scared little white men. The point for them is that his win had shocked the democrats and the political class into a state of mass catatonia.

That in itself was victory enough for them. Notice that the dems silence on Trump has been deafening? It also set the bar so low that everything Trump did beyond his incredible win was gravy, including a treasonous and crude debasement of the office of the presidency itself. Only the KGB Chief and the Russian Press have been allowed to take pictures in the Oval Office?

But the DNA of a shyster never changes. Like the scorpion he is, Trump will just revert back to his natural form. However, the “low Right,” “the alt-right,” the besieged little white men of America, the neo-Nazis, the collection of trolls at the very bottom of American’s disgusting barrel, Hillary’s "basket of deplorables," America's racist undercurrent, now had their champion.

Whether he wanted to be or not, and whether he was up to the job or not, Donald John Trump was now their man. David Duke regaled him under the Neo-Nazi/white supremacist banner, and extolled him to defy the political class even more, whether or not he got anything done for his tribe. And even if eventually he is proven to be little more than Vladimir Putin’s lap dog, Trump is still their man. Even, if as he himself had suggested, he shoots someone down in the streets of Manhattan, they will not abandon him.

I have a Canadian friend. We met on cruise a few years back. He is a retired brain surgeon who emails and calls occasionally, checking on the foul odor coming from the south, and on the mental health of that insane junk yard of a nation on his southern border. Recently he put the following question to me: How could anyone still believe in god in a nation that has just elected Donald John Trump as President? I reminded him that it was the Evangelical Christians who had put him over the top? He was so shocked he just hung up on me!

Three stars
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nicolas st gelais
I ordered this as an audio book that I could listen to while hiking/driving. I could not wait to listen to the next segment! The book is well researched and written. I tend to read a fair amount of news and articles, but there was so much in this book that filled in parts of insights and understanding for me.

In light of Bannon's dismissal today, it is interesting to know the deep impact he has had on Trump's administration and candidacy. I wonder is Trump will become rudderless without Bannon, or if (wouldn't this be wonderful), if he might actually start acting like a president for ALL Americans and not loyal supporters.

I had looked forward to a book that would give insights about the run for presidency and the days around the election. I thought I might have to wait years for it to be written. When I heard the author on NPR, I ordered the book immediately and am DELIGHTED that it was written.

I am now on my second time through listening to this.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
gunnar
I just finished this tale and as a liberal Democrat, the experience depressed me. I think the brains of liberals and the brains of ultra-conservatives are wired differently. Actually, on many issues I would consider myself a centrist Democrat...I didn't like Hillary due to all the baggage and her poor campaign skills, I didn't like Bernie because he was too often a grumpy grandpa, who seems to have forgotten how to speak at a normal volume without anger. I had hoped that former governor of Maryland, O"Malley, might catch on, but he just couldn't find the right message and tone sharing a stage with B and HRC. This well-done volume made me sad because of how many millions of my fellow citizens fell for the Don and Steve con game, and how many billionaires seemed willing to fund them. I don't know what will happen in 2020 (my strong belief is that Donald will find a face-saving excuse not to run again) but this book helped me better understand the events of 2016, even though I followed that whole two-year quest of DT's rather closely, for a non-fan. President Trump, as I write this, has had a good weekend, visiting Houston and Lake Charles and acting like a decent soul. In his first seven months, he can't often claim he got through TWO good DAYS in a row. Surely, his 17-day August "vacation" was one of the most eventful periods of "time off" any POTUS ever had. Now North Korea has hydrogen bombs, and he's the guy with the final decision on whether to live with that or try to defuse them from the air without setting the darn things off. We do live in interesting times, now, but how many weeks will be happy ones for most of us and the rest of the world is an open question. If you want to know how vital Steve B. was to the new leader's win, this book will show you. Whether that is important anymore, now that he is out of the White House, who knows? Mr. Trump has a life history of breaking the hearts of decent people who serve or befriend him, and yet of maintaining relationships with indecent people, even ones he has fired or insulted.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
eric reeves
This well-researched and highly readable book casts Bannon as a genius Forrest Gump-like figure, who manages to be everywhere relevant for the past three decades, from officership in the navy, to Goldman Sachs, to the financial power center of Hollywood mergers and acquisitions, to video gaming in Asia, to internet chat rooms, and ultimately, to the ultra-conservative Breitbart News and national politics. On the one hand, the book serves to demystify the uncanny insight Donald Trump seemed to bring to the 2016 election, explaining how he managed, with Bannon in his ear, to so expertly finger the pulse of an electorate that few others recognized, let alone effectively courted. On the other hand, the book risks tipping the other way, investing Bannon with such divine prescience that he comes through seeming both inevitable and indomitable, an all-knowing evil genius whose juggernaut was political predestination, a foregone conclusion of immense power and influence.

Neither view of Bannon, of course, can be true. What we have instead is the portrait of an expert, who was anything but an overnight sensation, and whose steady snowballing of knowledge and experience made him a valuable tool for candidate Trump.

Through Green, we see that Bannon is not an all-knowing villain out of a Hollywood thriller, but is instead similar to so many typical American influencers : a financier who followed the money to its nexus of power, from Wall Street to Hollywood to the media. He has successfully cast himself as an outsider, but his is a quintessentially inside line to power.

Shortly after the publication of Green’s book, Bannon’s official role at the White House ended, and he returned immediately as chief of the ultra conservative Breitbart News. While boasting an activist agenda set to mobilize and persuade the Trump base, Bannon, at this writing, remains the power seeker he has been, speechifying and gadflying. Yet in large part thanks to Green’s comprehensive work, much of the Bannon mystique is gone. We know who this guy is and the trenches in which he toiled to become the right hand to a sitting US president. What we perhaps don’t know is to what extent Bannon remains an influencer in President Trump’s inner circle and what, if anything, he wants besides his own gilded place at the table of power and wealth.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
wally
From when he won the Republican nomination, until Election Night, I told anyone who would listen that Trump would win, and win handily. I am a Trump supporter, and voted for Trump. I am also a big fan of Steve Bannon. Joshua Green is none of the above—yet he has written a compelling, and insightful book, even-handed in every way, that is very much worth reading.

The dust jacket for Green’s book, “Devil’s Bargain,” promises to give us, by “revealing [the] inside story of the partnership between Steve Bannon and Donald Trump,” the “key to understanding the rise of the alt-right, the fall of Hillary Clinton, and the hidden forces that drove the greatest upset in American political history.” I’m not sure the book accomplishes all that. In particular, by Green’s own admission, the “alt-right” is a thing of ambiguous and propaganda-laden definition. And the relevant forces aren’t all that hidden—it’s more that, again by Green’s own admission, they were hidden in plain sight. Nonetheless, this book does a good job of pulling all the threads together, through the specific lens of Bannon.

Green begins with describing Election Night, focusing on the actions that night of various players, some famous, some not. Ironically, Sean Spicer figures prominently—who quit as Press Secretary three days ago, just after this book was published. Green does not ascribe Trump’s victory wholly to Bannon, but considers Bannon’s nearly fortuitous role as Trump’s campaign manager most definitely a but-for cause of Trump’s victory. He compares Bannon to both Karl Rove and Machiavelli, as men “whose plots and intrigues on behalf of a ruler make him the hidden hand behind the throne.” (We can ignore that in fact Machiavelli wrote his famous treatise, “The Prince,” in exile hoping to ingratiate himself with the local throne, and died before any rehabilitation.) This hidden, or not so hidden, hand is the focus of “Devil’s Bargain.”

First, Green relates how Trump became connected to certain elements of the “fever swamp right.” Such a thing certainly exists; years ago I used to know a lot of people in the fever swamp right, and while today’s active members are mostly different, Green draws a good picture of the type and their activities. For Green’s purposes, the most important swamp dweller is the obscure-yet-powerful David Bossie, a long-time leader in the often semi-hysterical anti-Clinton movement. Bossie heads the group Citizens United. It was, therefore, Bossie’s 2007 documentary on Clinton that Hillary Clinton’s allies on the FEC tried to suppress, and which the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case deemed protected free speech, even though conducted through the corporate form. (Green oddly characterizes this decision as “opening the floodgates for wealthy individuals to take a larger and more active role in electoral politics,” when there were and are no limits on rich individuals making contributions.) And Bossie was instrumental in introducing Bannon to Trump.

Trump’s connection to what might be called the “unattached Right,” those people not in power and not closely tied to the Republican Party, was new, but Trump had long been drawn to politics, in a not particularly coherent way and not with a conservative bent. Green ascribes, with little evidence, but one man’s guess is as good as another’s, Trump’s turn to conservatism to the positive reaction to his attacks on Obama for not producing his birth certificate. (Green does not think that the infamous group insulting of Trump at the 2011 Washington Correspondents’ Dinner, often referred to as the driver for Trump’s decision to run, was the spark.) Green ascribes Trump’s eureka moment in the birther controversy to having “figured out that the norms forbidding such behavior were not inviolable rules that carried a harsh penalty but rather sentiments of a nobler, bygone era.” That’s not true, of course—the “inviolable rule” was always only that such attacks were common and encouraged by the elite, but could only be made on conservatives, from Sarah Palin to Mitt Romney, and never on compliant, go-along-get-along Republicans, much less on any figure of the Left, who were protected by the Left’s cultural dominance and ability to determine what news is presented, and how. What Trump figured out was that dominance could be broken through by force of will, and he had the platform to give it effect. (Green always portrays the news-setting, or “mainstream,” media as neutral in this book, which is of course laughable. But generally, he does an excellent job of staying focused and not introducing his personal biases.) In any case, it’s plausible that the success of this attack on Obama, and the attention garnered by it, galvanized Trump to run for office.

Bannon, apparently, never joined the “birther” craze. This seems a bit strange, since Bannon is all about the effective attack, and this attack actually made quite a bit of sense in context, even if ultimately showed false, given that everything else about Obama normally disclosed by Presidents was, and is, hidden—his grades, his college and law school applications, his test scores, his early writings. On the other hand, one of the key themes of Green’s book is how Bannon realized that most right-wing organizations were an echo chamber with a strong hint of crazy. I can both endorse and understand Bannon’s feelings from my own experience, although I suspect that the Internet has raised both membership in the echo chamber, and the level of crazy, since my days in that environment. It’s possible that the Clintons have killed a bunch of people. But it’s just not very likely. Bannon’s genius was to harness the energy being expended on a circular firing squad and direct it to a larger audience, through the Breitbart platforms and through the offering of detailed, sourced, undeniable truths, such as the massive corruption of the Clinton family in the book Clinton Cash. Bannon thus downgraded insular punditry in favor of facts combined with outward-directed organization. “What Bannon built was in essence the very thing Clinton herself was mocked for invoking in 1998: a ‘vast right wing conspiracy’ designed to tear her down.”

Green next spends some time, though not as much as I would have liked, on Bannon’s personal background, focused on how his views became what they are (answer: many of them have been there since his earliest youth). He follows Bannon’s youthful education, naval career, Harvard M.B.A., time at Goldman Sachs in the 1980s (when Goldman was very different than it is now), and Hollywood career (as a producer and as an advisor to mergers-and-acquisitions transactions, including involuntarily, but fortunately, taking as payment part of the residuals of “Seinfeld”). This is all interesting, though frankly not all that illuminating, since Bannon appears to have had a pretty consistent philosophy throughout his life.

Somewhat surprisingly, we are given almost nothing about Bannon’s personal life. Yes, we are treated to “color” about his odd dress habits, and that he lives in the townhome from which Breitbart is run. But, for example, it is well known that Bannon has been married three times. Yet this book only mentions one wife, his first, in passing. The others make no appearance at all, nor do any of Bannon’s three children. Is he estranged from them all? That seems relevant. Similarly, Bannon’s personal interactions with everyone are, as related in this book, wholly of a hyper-charged political nature. That seems unlikely. How does Bannon relate to people when not talking about politics? Does he relate? This book doesn’t say. Maybe Green doesn’t really know. Maybe those who do know aren’t talking (though that also seems unlikely—you can always at least get enemies to talk). Maybe Green just didn’t have the space or inclination. But the result is the drawing of a figure that’s curiously flat, given his notoriously outsized personality. There are also a few hanging threads. At the beginning of the book Green mentions that Bannon was the director of Biosphere 2, the project in the Arizona desert to replicate a Mars colonization environment, in the 1990s. That sounds interesting, and maybe relevant to Bannon’s views of the future. But not a single word more is said about it.

Green makes much of, and reviewers such as Bret Stephens in the New York Times have made much of, a passage where a childhood friend and schoolmate of Bannon’s ascribes his (largely negative) view of today’s Muslim world to that “We were all taught that Western civilization was saved five hundred years ago in Spain, where Ferdinand and Isabella defeated the Moors. The lesson was, here’s where Muslims could have taken over the world. And here was the great stand where they were stopped.” The implication is that Bannon thinks we must make a similar great stand. Maybe. But probably not, since that’s not at all what happened under Ferdinand and Isabella.

The 1492 “defeat of the Moors” referred to was when the dual monarchs negotiated, on generous terms to the Muslims, the surrender of the last toehold of the Muslims in Spain, the Kingdom of Granada. This occurred after Spaniards gradually expelled the alien invaders from the rest of Spain through hundreds of years of the heroic Reconquista (traditionally with a start date of the Battle of Covadonga (718), which established the Christian Kingdom of Asturia in northern Spain, a few years after the initial Muslim invasion and conquest of the peninsula). More importantly, the “great stand where they were stopped” was actually the Battle of Tours, in France in 732, where Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne, turned back the Muslim advance into Europe. (We can ignore the debate as to how big or important this battle actually was—it indisputably marked the high water mark of the Muslim advance, and for a millennium or more was a Western cultural touchstone, as it should still be now.)

This history may seem to be merely trivia, but it is not. Bannon knows his history, and as far as the Muslim world goes, it is much more likely that he sees the fight against Muslim domination as like the Reconquista, a long-term battle, rather than some apocalyptic “great stand.” This has significant implications for policy.

In any case, Green switches the focus back to Trump, noting how “The Apprentice” showed Trump his popularity, especially among minorities (Trump won more Hispanic and black votes than Romney, admittedly a low bar). Green identifies how Trump, really without much notice outside his growing audience, gradually became more of a fixture on conservative-oriented TV and radio. Since anything conservative in media is by definition not “mainstream” and is not allowed to set what is considered news, it is not surprising this went unnoticed by the larger world. It certainly went unnoticed by me, but then I don’t consume any TV or radio. I literally laughed out loud when I read that Trump had announced his candidacy in the summer of 2015. Shows what I know.

The rest of the book is taken up with how Bannon became Trump’s campaign manager, after Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort had flamed out, for very different reasons. Green notes Bannon’s own intellectual ferment, focused on various forms of nationalism and approval of the European politics of the “new right wing” in Europe, and how Bannon “was trying to build an intellectual basis for Trumpism, or what might more accurately be described as an American nationalist-Traditionalism.” Here there are also hints of the enormous fractures within the Trump political organization, which, along with Trump’s own utter lack of discipline, have long made Trump’s organization dysfunctional. For example, there is a reference, in passing, to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner missing critical August events during the campaign—because they were “yachting in Croatia with David Geffen.” Given that Geffen and all of his views are basically Kryptonite to any Trump voter, this says something about Ivanka and Jared, as well as Trump himself—and it’s not good or promising for the future.

Here, also, appears Green’s analysis of the “alt-right.” As he notes, “The term ‘alt-right’ itself had no fixed meaning. In its broadest sense, it encompassed the spectrum of groups left over if you took everyone to the right of center and subtracted mainstream Republicans and neoconservative foreign-policy hawks: populists, libertarians, immigration restrictionists, paleoconservatives, white supremacists, and full-on neo-Nazis. This catchall definition is what Bannon had in mind when, in July, he told a journalist at Mother Jones that he considered Breitbart ‘a platform for the alt-right.’ But Clinton, in her August 25 speech, cleverly defined ‘alt-right’ to mean only white supremacists and Nazis, taking the sins of the racist fringe and stretching them to cover the whole group. . . . Most voters (and many journalists) were unfamiliar with the term and accepted Clinton’s definition of it.”

This seems like as good an analysis as any. What is really shows is that the term “alt-right” is, as applied neutrally, so broad as to be meaningless—it’s like defining “alt-left” as “everyone to the left of center and subtracting mainstream Democrats and active Black Lives Matter participants.” And it shows that its main use is as a term of propagandistic abuse handy for mainstream Democrats and their allies in the news-setting media, since it allows them to include all the real threats to them (because the mainstream Stupid Party is hardly a threat) under the umbrella of “Nazis!!!!” The real reason journalists accepted Clinton’s definition was not unfamiliarity, even if they were unfamiliar, but that it served their own interests to do so, which were exactly aligned with Clinton’s interests. They had no desire to find the truth, or parse the definition—they wanted to continue their role as Clinton’s outriders and handmaidens, and they thought this slur was the silver bullet with which they could kill the werewolf Trump.

The main part of the book ends with the final days of the campaign. The narrative reminds us how very unlikely Trump’s win appeared. Not just because of the polls, and not just because of Trump’s lack of discipline. We were constantly reminded how much less Trump had spent, how he had no ground game, how he did not grasp the necessary role of technology, and so on. Green ascribes Trump’s win to a combination of unique circumstances, Bannon’s roping in of elements normally regarded as déclassé by the Stupid Party, and a relentless mode of attack, again pushed by Bannon, all of which persuaded the “double haters,” who disliked both candidates, ultimately mostly to vote for Trump or nobody.

So what happens after Trump? Green’s book, of course, is in the moment—his Afterword is dated barely a month ago, on June 5, 2017. If anything, both the book and the month since have, in case we needed any more proof, shown us that Trump has managed to make the shifting sands of modern American politics even more unstable than usual. The hope of many on the right, that Trump’s often-insane seeming behavior is some kind of meta-strategic master game, is silly. But, sooner or later, Trump will disappear, and it is very likely that Trump will accomplish very little of what he promised. Green offers a brief outline of why that is, but I think most people, right and left, Trump or NeverTrump, agree. (Of course, most people agreed not that long ago that the idea of Trump as President was laughable, so buyer beware). Certainly, we have seen little results. Where is the wall? Where is the rollback of gun control? Where is the repeal of Obamacare? Where is the punishment of China? The ending of the Iran giveaway? The prosecution of Hillary? Infrastructure spending? And much more, notable by its absence.

Green insightfully, in his Afterword, notes that “Trump ran against the Republican Party, Wall Street, and Paul Ryan, but then took up their agenda.” Truer words were never spoken. Also, “Trump doesn’t believe in nationalism or other political philosophy—he’s fundamentally a creature of his own ego.” Thus, if you believe news reports, Bannon has either been sidelined or is on the way out, and his carefully constructed intellectual framework has been thrown in the trash. As the Good Book says, “Put not thy trust in princes.” It should be no surprise that in the current environment, Bannon’s long term impact is likely to be zero.

If Green is right overall, though, the forces that brought Trump to power were not transitory and are not patient. Green notes that it is “clear that Bannon had a better feel for the American electorate’s anxieties than almost anyone else in the arena.” It seems to me that people who support Trump correctly believe that they have been repeatedly betrayed. Certainly, in my lifetime, Republicans have never delivered on any form of radical change promised—it is always, and most of all in the past eight years, five steps leftward by the Left, and maybe one step to the right if the Right gains power—or maybe just two more steps to the left. The result has been, and will be, ever more resentment from a significant segment of Americans with real concerns and grievances—let’s call them the “deplorables.” Each time they vote for change, and get none, the amplitude of their reaction in the next cycle increases. There is no reason to think that electing Trump is the high point of that amplitude, especially when Trump totally fails to deliver. If the deplorables were willing to vote for someone like Trump, with many obvious defects, how much more for the right charismatic leader with a consistent, vigorous vision? Probably quite a bit, and that’s not necessarily good. But it is likely that, by hook or by crook, we will get the government we deserve.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hobber998
This book reads smoothly and quickly as the author takes you through the sequence of events that resulted in Donald Trump’s presidential victory.
The guiding force, or person, behind Trump’s triumph was Steve Bannon who quickly analyzed, planned and executed the winning strategic plan. I must confess that I underestimated Bannon’s talent when I first heard of him. He’s a former naval officer with a vibrant and forceful personality. Along with Bannon’s political savvy the multi-million dollar couple, Bob and Rebekah Mercer, contributed great sums of money not only to Bannon’s Breitbart News but to three other companies that would support Trump’s campaign with data research and media coverage. Bannon also made another major contribution by brokering an alliance between Trump’s world and Jeff Sessions’s.
Trump’s team was aided by grossly unflattering revelations about Hillary Clinton’s activities. Unfortunately, Clinton failed to take advantage of Trump’s lies and effectively rebut them, thus unwittingly helping Trump’s campaign even more.
Ultimately Trump got rid of Bannon because he felt that Bannon’s fame was starting to eclipse his own. But Bannon is still Trump’s loyal stooge. In a recent New York Times news item it was noted that Bannon is forming a group to try to sell voters on a midterm message that they should support Republicans to defend the Trump agenda and save the president from impeachment. I’m not sure Bannon is doing the right thing here but he’s a “believer” and I’m sure Trump is giving him high points for his continued loyalty.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
g l ah has
Joshua Green is a talented writer and his book is a good read. But his premise is flawed. Steve Bannon certainly had an influence on the events that led to the election of Donald Trump in 2016. But the events that led to this outcome were complex and Mr.Green fails to make to make a convincing case that con man Steve Bannon was the major factor.. I would recommend the perspective reader to view the Charlie Rose interview of Steve Bannon on "Sixty Minutes" to appreciate what a shallow self promoter Steve Bannon is. Apparently Mr. Bannon did a good job of conning Joshua Green. Don't you be conned into spending your good money on this book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jayant
Some interesting insights into the characters behind the scenes and how they interacted with each other. Nothing that really explains how in the world such a man got nominated, much less elected as President. A combination of factors, I suppose. Robert Mueller may be able to add something to that mystery. I don't like the foul language sometimes used in the book--even though I know it is mostly just quotes from people involved.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alvin khaled
I thought this was going to be a great book to read and get some insight into the relationship & history of Steve Bannon & Donald Trump. I was a little skeptical because I was concerned this was going to be a very anti-Trump book considering the author's background. I was pleasantly surprised as the author did very well MOST of the time in keeping his own bias out of the storytelling. With that being said, the book is in fact a great read and getting a insiders look as the Trump candidacy and campaign took shape. Learned a lot that I didn't know about Bannon's history which in itself is a great story. This is less of an ideological book as it is more of the paths of two men crossing here and there over time to bring them together eventually for the 2016 Presidential election.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
chhaya
Las Vegas casino mogul, Steve Wynn introduced Donald Trump to David Bossie—an anti-Clinton zealot, who in return would bring Steve Bannon into Trump’s presidential campaign years later (along with Kellyanne Conway and others).

First, Bannon organized Trump’s thoughts on “a fully formed, internally coherent worldview that accommodated Trump’s own feelings about trade and foreign threats, what Trump eventually dubbed ‘American first’ nationalism.” Second, Bannon helped to awaken and vitalize Trump’s need to focus on that pool of conservative and disenfranchised anti-Clinton voters (many who normally, if ever, were not inclined to vote) and to draw them into his base (Immigration issues “lurked beneath the surface of Republican politics for a long time.”) The author, Joshua Green, opines that Bannon’s goal was analogous to Hillary Clinton’s “vast right-winged conspiracy” during the Bill Clinton presidency.

Bannon is presented as an intelligent man with dubious “ethnonationalism” subscriptions—traits he passes along to Trump. Bannon’s affiliation with Andrew Breitbart and his technique of exploiting quasi-true political stories that generally discredit his opponents is a topic covered considerably by Green.

The author painted Bannon, before joining the Trump campaign, as a “Washington figure of no particular distinction who intended to inhabit the far fringes of Republican politics, where he felt most at home.” Green was impressed with Bannon’s understanding of how the press works. Bannon grasped the notion that media reports are a visceral experience to the reader where there is an “ongoing drama equipped with distinct storylines, heroes, and villains.”

Green is a liberal writer who is not a fan of either Trump or Bannon. But, this book is well researched, and I recommend reading it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
rick battenbough
I listened to the Audiobook... during which, I don't really find much substance to regard someone or some action as the devil or a bargain with one.

Enjoyed it, couldn't "put it down" ... loved the background on Bannon, Mercer, Trump -- though it is more introductory than anything of great depth. Leaves you primed to dig deeper if you were so inclined.

Seems to give everyone a fair shake during the book, leaving a great deal of personal opinion out, which I appreciate as a Trump voter. With a title like this, I didn't know if I'd make it to the end due to the continued repeated dogma brainwashed into masses, most of which is unethically feed by profiteering & power-craving sycophants with a motive. But I digress...

Decent book, not sure I'd recommend it except to the most inclined / intrigued party... like myself. Based on the audiobook content, I'd also avoid the labor of reading the book unless someone suggested to do otherwise (as the superficiality of the content is enjoyable but would leave much to be desired after the investment of actually readership).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
harj dhillon
This was a pretty scary book by a Washington insider who followed Trump/Bannon,and their rise in the last several years.Now that Bannon is out of the administration and essentially a loose cannon I think it is even more important to know what drives him, which this book covers in detail. He hates foreigners, immigrants, the government, and everyone to the left of someone such as current senate candidate Roy Moore. These are scary times, and they will likely only get worse over the next year plus in the best case, and seven in the worst.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
davinder
This book gets four stars for me, but it's a split rating; the first two-thirds gets a five-star grade, as it traces the relationship between Donald Trump and his evil twin, Steve Bannon. The last third, however, gets only three stars, as it's really just a Bannon-focused version of how Trump won the election (and how Hillary lost it) -- something that's been done before (Shattered) and will be done again (and again and again, no doubt).

The first two-thirds does a great job of explaining Bannon's background, how he became what he is, how he got together with Trump, and so on. It's a very interesting story, and Green does a great job telling it. The book is worth reading for that alone. However, "the rest of the story" doesn't really put anything new on the table, except that through thick and thin, Bannon stayed in character, basically sticking his middle finger in the air and doing whatever was necessary to defeat Hillary (to the extent that she didn't do it to herself).

The book also ends with a June 2017 epilogue -- clearly put together by Green to demonstrate the mess that the Trump reign has become. Again, nothing new here -- just watch the news any day of the week -- and something that will continue to be told over and over and over again, assuming we're still all here to see it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
maghen
I loved this book. It was very informative and seemed to have no bias. Green is a brilliant writer! It was filled with brilliant and well-researched insights into much of what was going on behind the scenes that most of us were completely unaware of. More than anything else, it developed the philosophical and ideology that became the impetus for Trump's outrageous, unorthodox, yet highly effective rise in political stature among a seething group of angry Americans, the size of which was underestimated at every level. Trump was no deep thinker. Yet, he had surrounded himself with some deep-thinking manipulators - Bannon being one of the key manipulators. The sad story isn't how an inarticulate, chaotic narcissist could storm into the White House. Trump isn't unique in this regard. There are countless individuals of that ilk. It's how Americans bought into it. It truly was the Perfect Storm. At no other point history would an individual like Trump have a chance of accomplishing what he did. Green highlights how the confluence of odd circumstances, all seemingly perfectly time (but clearly coincidental) conspired to contribute to one of the largest political upsets in history. I was a little surprised how Green never mentioned Clinton's ill-advised characterization of a group of Trump supporters as "a basket of deplorables". If there's one thing that galvanizes deplorable people - it's by actually pointing out that they are deplorable. They wore that moniker like a badge of honor. This book doesn't come right out and say that Trump won for "this" or "that" reason - Green leaves that up to the reader. He simply laid out the events as they occurred. As other reviewers have said, you will enjoy (and hate) this book the same, whether you were a Trump or Clinton supporter.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
diane detour
Being a political junkie, I read it all in one sitting. I was not disappointed. I wanted to understand Bannon philosophy and his beliefs. But, I learned so much more about how Trump managed to win this election and why he is having trouble trying to run the country like a business.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
victor
It was a strange coincidence that I finished reading Joshua Green’s book titled, Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, on the day Steve Bannon was fired from his job at the White House. Journalist Green tells a lively story in this book, and thanks to reading it, I was not at all surprised at Bannon’s brief tenure working inside the Trump administration. Readers with a strong interest in politics are those most likely to enjoy reading this book.

Rating: Four-star (I like it)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kylebw
I am a political junkie—keep up with the news daily, read newspapers and books about the subject. But I had no idea what goes on behind the scene until I read Josh Green’s book, “Devil’s Bargain!” Green’s insights into the dark web, Steve Bannon, Breitbart News, media manipulation were illuminating for me and frankly are scarey. Green’s book is well researched; clear, precise and well written! Look forward to his next one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
duncan
I didn’t know anything about Steve Bannon and his background before running Trump’s campaign towards the end of the election. This book gives a short bio on his background and his relationship with Trump. His philosophy to running the campaign is also explored in detail.

The other refreshing part about this book was the author’s neutrality. He works for Bloomberg and he gives the facts straight without a bias or agenda.

This is a political junky book which I enjoyed for its information behind the scenes of the campaign.

Recommend.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cfboxill
Received the book yesterday afternoon. Read it last night until 3am, couldn't put it down. It was factual and having kept a close eye on the topic I have to say everything I read rang true. This I believe will the be down fall of the authors intent, it was too factual and way too accurate, better than any piece I've read in years.

For those with ears that can hear and a brain that actually works. Reading this book will only strengthen your resolve and prove you made the right choice when you pulled the lever or filled in the blank for those leader from outside our D.C. beltway. Others might find the clear hand of Grace through out these pages.

Clearly the author despises Trump and the campaign and the hatred toward Bannon is clear on the title. But facts and accurate reporting clearly get in the way every single time. If you read Rules for Radicals and the cure for Rules for Radicals you'll fill in pieces that all make sense.

The author and Bloomberg will epically fail in their mission, facts get in the way. Excellent, Excellent read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dan pratt
This is a relatively well-written narrative about Steve Bannon, his insertion into the Trump campaign, and how the Trump candidacy culminated into the Trump presidency. The most revelatory portions of the book were about Steve Bannon himself, his background, and his nationalistic beliefs, which mirror those held by the fringe right, that segment of conservatism that has long lurked in the background of political discourse. These beliefs were only recently brought to the fore into mainstream politics, when architects of the movement, together with Mercer money, were able to find the perfect vessel for their beliefs in the person of Donald Trump. Trump was the means to the end. It was a devil's bargain, indeed.

The book is well-researched, suffering only from the lack of knowledge of events that have emerged since the publication of the book, such as the perfidy of Cambridge Analytica relative to their use of Facebook data in connection to the Trump campaign and the pro-Trump interference by Russian trolls on the internet. Still, notwithstanding this, the book is one that political junkies will enjoy.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
barbara ankrum
Loved the setup of the book. The author's fascination with Bannon dates back to 2011, long before Trump's escalator ride to the presidency. But, alas, much of Bannon's life story is dull and the writing, surprisingly, just okay. (Big fan of Green's magazine writing.) Maybe that was because of a desire to get the book out as fast as possible. Or maybe magazines are Green's best medium. But, in either case, was expecting to love the book and even more excited after reading first dozen of so pages. But, then, meh.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jim janknegt
This is a great book! Joshua Green's prose is detailed yet efficient. In spite of the title, author doesn't set out to demonize any individual. He lays bare the most well-researched, thoroughly documented and detailed reporting that lays bare the lifetime body of work of one of the meanest, most spiteful, and incredibly effective mastermind of the last several election cycles. The apologetic honey badger is part Svengali, part Rasputin, wrapped by a team with the effective reach of a Goebbels.

Watch out, you may get what your after. The tactics that he used to bring down the Clintons are well at the door of the Trumps. It may take some time, but watch out Mr. Bannon, you may get exactly what's headed your way. You are now the nail that sticks up. As Japanese lore says, that's the one which gets hammered.

Recommended for anyone who has been rapt since the head-whipping, mind numbing effects of the summer of 2016. This certainly provided clarity for me in the "what just happened here?" post mortem.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
halynka
Please note: This review will range far beyond the content in Devil’s Bargain.
Devil’s bargain or devils’ bargain? Apostrophes can make all the difference, however, after reading this book the devil is not clearly identified. There are devils bargaining everywhere when the topic encompasses the über rich, the political elite, and biased media outlets.
Joshua Green writes for Bloomberg Businessweek, a magazine established in 1929 and geared toward the quality of informative journalism and research as in The Economist. In other words, the content appeals to right of center businessmen who tend to be fiscal conservatives, yet it sustains a sensible criticism of both right and left politics that effect the way money moves in culture and international relations. Having said that, Devil’s Bargain will appeal more to Trump’s critics and less to his devotees.

Green offers an intense overview of events that led to the internationally shocking election of Donald Trump. Even Trump and his inner circle were a bit shocked, Green tells us. Green offers insight into the quirky lives and strange philosophies that drive the perceptions and decisions of the wealthy. If there are devils, they lurk in murky back alley castles that exclude common voting folk. The castles harbor schemers (including oddball billionaire Bob Mercer who funded Bannon and Trump) that devise ways to manipulate voter perception. The devils play tunes to choreograph our angry minds whether we dance on stage right, stage left, or are lost in the muddy middle among indignant independents and those who could care less. Green does not go that far, so far as I did to cynically describe how we are all being played, but he gets close.

My interest in this book focuses more on Steve Bannon than Trump. Bannon, as we learn, is a study in superior drive and intellect fixated on how to influence the world from knowledge of hidden cultural and cosmic forces. Bannon has little respect for anyone, but he does respect the goddess Kali (I am speaking metaphorically) who heralds the final age of a cycle (Kali Yuga) in Hindu mythology. Green mentions the Kali Yuga’s importance to Bannon’s alignment with Traditionalism and its primary pundit, Rene Guenon (1886-1951).

Green references one source about Guenon and one of his more radical devotees, Baron Julius Evola (1898-1974), who also grabbed Bannon’s interest. That source is 'Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity' by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (2002). I have the book and reviewed it many years ago. This is difficult territory that Green manages well enough with careful language to help us grasp how Guenon, a Muslim convert with Hindu leanings and Evola, an icon of Italian fascist idealism, figure into the Bannon world view that captivates Trump.

“Expounding on this view at a 2014 conference at the Vatican, Bannon knit together Guenon, Evola, and his own racial-religious panic to cast his beliefs in historical context. Citing the tens of millions of people killed in twentieth-century wars, he called mankind “children of that barbarity” whose present condition would one day be judged “a new Dark Age.” He added, “We are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.” (207)

Further on down the same page 207, Green notes Traditionalist influence in Russia today:
“Vladimir Putin’s chief ideologist, Alexander Dugin—whom Bannon has cited—translated Evola’s work into Russian and later developed a Russian-nationalist variant of Traditionalism known as Eurasianism.” (207-208)

In 2016 summer, during the campaign, Bannon described Trump as a “blunt instrument for us,” and after the election, “He’s [Trump has] taken the nationalist movement and moved it up twenty years” (208). By “us” Bannon includes the movement of conservatives most represented by talk radio pundits who bitch incessantly about liberalism, but he basically meant the Breitbart crowd.

According to Green, Bannon comes from roots in a Tridentine or old-school Catholicism that rejects the liberalzing intent of Vatican 2 that occurred in the 1960s. Tridentine Catholicism that celebrates the Mass in Latin is also inspired by Pope Pius the XI in his “1931 encyclical Quadragesimo anno [which stated that] political matters should devolve to the lowest, least centralized authority that can responsibly handle them—a concept that, in a U.S. political context, mirrors small-government conservatism” (206). Green does not mention that the pope’s encyclical also condemned runaway capitalism that leads to grotesque wealth.

When we hear Donald Trump equivocate about racial tensions (as he has lately regarding the neo-Nazi/White Right protests that led to deaths in Virginia on August 12, 2017 by condemning “many sides”), we are hearing Bannon citing Evola as a champion of change, not racism. Evola was not a biological racist—he was an elite idealist who viewed “Aryan” as indicative of aristocratic and higher caste sensibilities carried by the “Nordic, light-skinned conquerors of ancient India” (Goodrick-Clarke, 65). The original Aryans were not the pinky-white Brits and Germans that neo-Nazis revere—the original Aryans were olive and tan-skinned folk from lands around ancient Persia.

Higher caste sensibilities can be carried by the elite leaders of African and Middle East nations in Evola’s view. Skin color does have something to do with caste and the jati system in Hindu India, but not in Guenon’s or Evola’s Traditionalism which is a spiritual hierarchy about gnosis. Trump like Bannon has no overt biological racism platform. It is a serious mistake to view the Alt-right under Bannon as skin-color racism despite the invitation of all racists to join the White side of the Alt-right parade. “Mussolini adopted Evola’s ideas as official Fascist racial theory in 1938, when Italy enacted its own racial laws distinct from Nazi Germany” (Goodrick-Clarke, 65). Mussolini rejected that there were biologically pure races in opposition to Hitler. Following this view, Trump can rub shoulders comfortably without hypocrisy with brown-skinned Muslim elites as well as appoint an African-American man to his cabinet. Obama was not hated by the elite Right because he was Black—he was dissed because he was not from that upper political caste.

As for the female gender:
“Evola’s view of history and political theory were grounded in a fundamental “doctrine of two natures,” the “primordial Tradition,” which distinguishes the metaphysical order of things from the physical, the immortal from the mortal world, the superior realm of “being” from the inferior realm of “becoming,” the dominant virile principle of spirit from the lower, feminine domain of matter” (Black Sun: Goodrick-Clarke, 58). Father sun dominates Mother moon. Hindu doctrine favors the male incarnation as prepared for moksha or soul freedom. Being born female is inauspicious spiritually for Guenon and the Traditionalists—being born male is highly preferred by many ancient cultures, thus the enduring myth to hope for many sons and the early Roman practice of female infanticide. Traditionalism is not feminism. Trump’s primarily old white guy cabinet looks “Traditional.”

A word here about “primordial Tradition,” also known as perennial philosophy. Guenon believed he found evidence of primordialism in the ancient Hindu Vedas. He had a point, but he over-valued it. He rejected the implications of evolutionary theory and why we cognitively remain species specific for the past 60,000 years or more—no matter what our caste or racial stereotype. Guenon mistook “Being” for the apparent steadiness of the human species. Like Bannon, I thought I found a hero in Guenon in the 1980s when I discovered his work, especially The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times (1945), perhaps his best known work and a good synopsis of his thought. Scholars such as Mircea Eliade endorsed Guenon’s views on Vedanta if not Guenon’s overwrought polemics.

Guenon was a Catholic in France and a young seeker who embraced Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophy for a time, but later rejected “Theosophism” as a “pseudo-religion.” After his conversion to Sufism and Islam, he immersed himself in religious studies without supervision. He was an autodidact in spiritual studies, much like Bannon who fancies an individual insight into eternal values. Guenon never nurtured an individual cult, thus there is no regulating body like a Vatican of Traditionalism. Rather, a Traditionalist can be a Buddhist, a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, or a Freemason who believes in an underlying eternal tradition expressed through their own. The specific outward tradition masks a hidden Tradition that Guenon tried to unpack in his ponderous writings. Guenon and his elitist devotees see average Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and Christians as worshipping superficially or only the outer form of the primordial Tradition. L. Ron Hubbard tried to sell this same notion with his cruder version of Tradition as Scientology, which he claimed is the basis of all religion. The cult I was in around 1979, Summit Lighthouse, offered the perennial basis for all religions also.

A Guenon Traditionalist eschews individualism that merely mires one in matter, the body, becoming, and modernism. Much like ancient Gnostics, Traditionalists see great men as infused with a spiritual election—the quirks of behavior matter not. So, Trump in the Bannon view has been chosen by fate or sacred forces and inhabits a spiritual function in the Kali Yuga. This view allowed Newt Gingrich to call Trump “a force of nature,” which is what I heard a smiling Newt say on a news show a few months ago. I knew what he meant—he was not being colloquial. Newt is on the Trump wagon because he believes in this principle of spiritual fate or design, a primordial force wending its way throughout creation and the cosmos. Newt is among the elect, and I say that facetiously, in case you did not catch my intent. This is not a principle of the elite right or the elite left but of both because both feel this force of destiny behind them.

The primordial force is no respecter of persons, so goes the narrative. We find it in Calvinism and in Darwinism. It is in science and in magic. The mystics of Theosophy from Pythagoras to Blavatsky and Evola and Bannon all believe that the primordial force is with them—not in them, as they are “mere” instruments of the divine will. Calling this power “the Force” was no coincidence in Star Wars. How we use it is the question. Are you Darth Vader or his son? Are you Han Solo who has no time for mystic training but finds the Force in a charmed existence and in incredible luck? Knowing the primordial is the key, not whether it comes from the left or the right. Gaining power proves the Force is with you. Trump gained ultimate power politically, or at least the symbol of power.

Symbols like money and fame are very important to Traditionalists who tend to Platonism and the pure and ideal states that can only be approached through symbol and metaphor. Reality on the ground is a mere plaything for science and of no eternal consequence for the Traditionalist. Bannon adopted a sloppy, un-rich appearance to prove he is not mired in materialism. Guenon lived like a common Muslim among Muslims who viewed him as a modest if quirky sage. Few Muslims found anything of value in his writing—Guenon’s devotees are mainly from the Western educated classes of elite seekers.

Guenon may have dismissed Blavatsky as a pseudo-religionist but he adopted her view of evolution that turned Darwin on his head. Traditionalists like Theosophists find a medieval version of creation as truer, a view that sees the spiritual devolve into matter, then struggle to free itself from matter through gnosis.

“Evola ultimately dismisses evolutionism as a science typical of dark-age myth, which derives the higher from the lower and man from animal in total ignorance of Tradition.” (Goodrick-Clarke, 59)

Evola saw himself as an instrument of the Kali Yuga. That means any disruption of the paltry status quo or creating “tension” is good. The old must be wiped clean for the new to evolve. Remember, Drain the Swamp became a slogan in the Trump campaign. Bannon believes that the riff-raff neo-Nazi and comically rude KKK will eventually be absorbed or shrugged off by the new Traditional society. The radical right does serve a purpose. That purpose is to create tension, so neo-Nazi marches that causes riots are good. What we see in the Trump White House up till now is an example of that tension that delights Bannon, no doubt helped along by Trump who Green described as “thrashing about like a loose fire hose” during the campaign (209).

Evola’s “ideal was the Indo-Aryan tradition, where hierarchy, caste, authority and state ruled supreme over material aspects of life. Invoking the heroic and sacred values of this mythical tradition, Evola advanced a radical doctrine of anti-egalitarianism, anti-democracy, anti-liberalism and anti-Semitism. He scorned the modern world of popular rule and bourgeois values, democracy and socialism, seeing capitalism and communism as twin aspects of the benighted reign of materialism.” (Goodrick-Clarke, 53)

Futurism is not mentioned in Green’s book Devil’s Bargain. Futurism was both an art movement and a political orientation prior to World War 1 in Italy that had a strong influence on the burgeoning Fascist politics that fed into World War 2. As an art form, think Cubism in dynamic indications of movement. Boccioni’s horse paintings are Futurist icons. Inspired by Filippo Tomaso Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto that Mussolini found relevant, Futurists believed in the power of technology, the machine, movement, energy (the Force), and a New Age that celebrated revolution. War was a cleansing action that must be embraced. I bring this up because, no matter the manifesto, there are always elements in social discourse that would want to wipe out the other quickly and finally. How many times have we heard angry Americans say blow them all up referring to the radical Muslim menace in the Middle East? Trump has echoed this pathological solution to everything and it appeals to the crude politics of the angry man. The Force will force them out—build a wall, blow them up, and drain the swamp.

“The Futurist Manifesto was read and debated all across Europe, but Marinetti's first 'Futurist' works were not as successful. In April, the opening night of his drama Le Roi bombance (The Feasting King), written in 1905, was interrupted by loud, derisive whistling by the audience... and by Marinetti himself, who thus introduced another element of Futurism, "the desire to be heckled". Marinetti did, however, fight a duel with a critic he considered too harsh.” (Wikipedia entry)

Now we have Trump with a penchant to thrive on heckling, if only up to a point. It adds to his charisma as an outsider with politically incorrect views. Trump like Marinetti drives his opposition crazy, and that craziness is precisely what this Futurist approach to change wants. The hero in this scheme is the Joker in Batman comics.

Green mentioned a passage in Bannon’s rise to power in the 1990s that caught my attention. In a weird way, Bannon crossed my path regarding the Biosphere 2 enterprise. Biosphere 2 is a huge and impressive greenhouse experiment outside of Oracle, AZ inspired by the Synergia group south of Santa Fe, NM and its cult leader, Johnny “Dolphin” Allen (born 1929). I lived in Santa Fe from 1975 through 1992 and was very aware of the doings at Synergia. Allen managed to recruit some very well-educated and wealthy people during his tenure as leader of various phases of his cult following since the 1970s. One of the most significant was Ed Bass Jr. who joined Allen at Synergia Ranch as a twenty-something, hip seeker with millions of dollars to spend. Biosphere 2 was launched in 1991 and that meant four women and four men entered a supposedly sealed system to prepare for living on Mars for two years. John Allen’s inspiration for this came primarily from the 1972 film Silent Running starring Bruce Dern. The architects employed Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome designs that already existed in smaller models at Synergia Ranch.

The Biosphere 2 experiment was a national media sensation in 1991, but behind the superficial glitz was a pending fiasco with poor science foundations and a cult-like atmosphere between John Allen and at least four of the Biospherans. Allen was clandestinely communicating with the group when they were supposed to be fending for themselves between 1991 and 1993. I toured the Biosphere the night before it launched in 1991, but I was down there for other reasons than curiosity. I was hired by a notable family whose adult child was one of the eight about to go in for two years. We attempted a surprise intervention with the Biospheran which allowed me to share some information about mind control and the alleged cult problems for less than an hour. The intervention was a long shot, but the family were very concerned that this Biospheran had been hoodwinked by the clever Allen many years before. Now they were concerned for the person’s safety and life in what appeared to be a doomed project. The family merely wanted to alert their relative that they had his or her back no matter what happened.

The eight made it through for two years but only after an outside air supply and new supplies sustained the struggling crew. This experiment on Mars would have killed everyone within months even with a proper building—the Bucky Fuller dome structure would have exploded immediately in negligible Martian atmosphere. The billionaire Bass family finally convinced their cult child Ed, who had sunk over thirty million dollars into Biosphere 2, to pull out and get new management. The new manager was Steve Bannon, hired in 1993, then rehired in 1994 to divest the project from John Allen’s influence. Bannon did clean house, but not without fighting off a lawsuit by my client’s relative, then a former Biospheran onto other projects in Japan.

One of Johnny Dolphin Allen’s influences was G. I. Gurdjieff and his manipulative Fourth Way teaching techniques. Gurdjieff (1866-1949) like Guenon claimed to represent a perennial philosophy handed to him by a hidden Sufi brotherhood he called the Sarmoun (no such brotherhood existed). Gurdjieff’s teachings influenced a wide range of esoteric seeker elites, perhaps more so than Guenon—Frank Lloyd Wright and enneagram enthusiasts have been among them. Bannon was a good choice to clean up the Biosphere 2 mess for the Bass family—Bannon grasped the strangeness of the problem and could navigate the esoteric arguments behind the Johnny Allen cult that he viewed as a bunch of loons. With Bannon, the Bass case in the 1990s was one of loon verses loon [my phrase], but Bannon won out. Johnny Dolphin, also an alpha male guru, sunk back into the depths of obscurity after the Biosphere debacle. He has reverted to John Polk Allen. At 88 Allen is yet struggling to salvage the heroic legacy he thought he had.

Green’s book is timely, but the Trump-Bannon legacy is strained, I think. Trump is a man who thrives on theater and (like any good narcissist) he needs a stage through which he controls his image—like Trump Tower. If Bannon starts making Trump look stupid (duh) and Trump finally realizes it (double duh), Bannon will be cut loose into that same murky sea as the Dolphin, struggling to salvage the heroic legacy he thought he had.

That is Tradition for you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
harlin jugpal
Having watched the election and seen the events unfolding this book really digs deeply into the underpinnings of each of the two major players. I don't think we are done with Bannon yet. His philosophy is strongly supported by most of Trump's supporters. This book tells me that the story isn't done.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sarah satho
This is a great book factually with the author's opinions compellingly substantiated. We are watching the US's role in the world change and this is a great background read for validation and speculation for how the next few years political landscape will play out.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mollie mcglocklin
Gives insight into not only how President Trump won but also insight into those who helped him win. And, unexpected for me, gIves insight into the President himself. Well written, interesting, and informative.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
marcelus
I scooped this up after hearing the author interviewed on Fresh Air. Unfortunately, the only new stuff in the book was covered in that interview. About 90% of the text consists of anecdotes and quotes that are painfully familiar from the recent campaign. Bannon's personal info has been covered more thoroughly in a few magazine articles during the past year.
There's only a sketchy exploration of Bannon's "theories" and worldview. There's very little about the "army of trolls" and exactly how "disaffected young white men [and women]" on the internet weaponized their rage and contempt to promote Trump and attack Clinton and the DNC. The book also neglects Cambridge Analytica - its strategies and impact - which may be the most sinister and under-examined part of the Bannon-Mercer machine.
This book stays on the surface of colorful personalities, mannerisms, and quotable quotes. Look elsewhere for more substance and analysis.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nancy barnes
Green is a great storyteller.
You probably won't like it if you love Trump, because Green points out things such as Trump loves flattery.
He makes it sound like Trump is channeling Bannon's ideas and could not have won without Bannon.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
atefmalaka
It was everything I expected it to be and a bit more. It is not my usual read but I had been hearing about all these new facts that Joshua Green divulged from his interviews.
Recommended to all those who do like political books to read .
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
abdurrahman
Interesting to read this several days after Steve Bannon has left Breitbart. What a roller coaster ride the last two years have been for him. The book delves into the strategy that delivered the electoral votes
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
emalee
I wonder what element would Primo Levi have chosen to attribute to the combination of Trump, Brannon and Joshua Green? Kryptonite perhaps? The imponderable chances of these unique characters mixing are too many to fathom. I was intrigued by Nigel Farage's JL Davids styled painting of Brannon to Trump which sounded like more of a 'wall warning' than a 'gift'...it will make an interesting auction piece one day in the future. This is all seriously fascinating, clear, concise​ and very well written.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
themanwhojaped
Reading it knowing what we know know about Russian interference, collaboration with Russia from those close to Trump and with the role of Cambridge Analytica makes reading this feel outdated and incomplete.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
gerald haley
This book is a clip job, a compilation of material culled from newspaper and online articles written by others. It's engagingly enough written, but it's a clip job, as a check of the 15 pages of "notes" will show.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nicholas lind
The first half of the book was revelatory with its background information on Bannon and in its establishing linkage between the various elements of the alt-right the monied eccentrics and the Trump candidacy. The second half is simply a regurgitation of the events of the campaign with little additional information or insight. Could have been an article rather than a book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sasha pravdic
L Ron Hannity told me to come on this site and give this book 1*. I saw this strategy work with L Ron Hubbard for Scientology in reverse. So I decided to give it 5* and break the state-run TV of FoxNews and racial, right media.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
billy frank
I didn't care for the book. Based on information that has come out after I purchased the book, it contains a lot of "alternative facts" that the author evidently did not verify before writing the book. Also, he spent too many pages describing the details in how Robert Mercer and Steve Bannon made their fortunes. I really did not care for those details and feel that they were included simply to add pages to the book.

I would definitely not recommend this book to anyone I know.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
dawn hancock
If you were paying the least bit of attention in 2016, you already know about 92% of the contents of this book. I was looking forward to more on Bannon's worldview, and that amounted to about two paragraphs without much depth. This is a book to check out at the library, not to purchase.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
abhishek jain
Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, Joshua Green, author; Fred Sanders, narrator
This was a difficult book to focus on because the message seemed preplanned simply to demonize the current President, Donald Trump, using Steve Bannon as the means to that end. In addition, as Bannon’s background and life wre explored, the author seemed intent on creating an evil human being, ignoring the positive side of his life. He is presented as ever eager to hurt and bully anyone with whom he came in contact, ruthless in his tactics and oblivious to the ordinary rules of decent conduct in his pursuits. The book is entitled, The Devil’s Bargain, and the author set out to make Steve Bannon the devil incarnate. I had hoped he would present a fairer picture of an election gone awry, but, instead, I was overwhelmed by the heavy-handed hit piece presented. It was filled with propaganda provided by the left leaning pundits and many innuendos that seemed to come from half- truths in order to present the progressive in a more positive light, ignoring their many conflicts, and corrupt behavior. He was intent on making the right seem deplorable in the way they were depicted by someone he respects highly, Hillary Clinton.
When describing the activities of Breitbart and Bannon, he used a term coined by Hillary Clinton which became popular. Suddenly, the left was populated by a group called the alt-right, but those on the right had no idea what that term actually meant. Clinton succeeded in hijacking the term and making it stick while she ignored what could be called the alt-left which represented her side of the aisle, Occupy Wall Street, Antifa, the undocumented who have committed a crime to get into this country. Joshua Green was only too happy to point fingers at the right while disregarding the heinous behavior of the left. Calling the alt-right white supremacists, religious zealots, and members of the rich and elite, he advanced the progressive rhetoric as if it was actual fact, much to the consternation of those conservatives who did not consider themselves a part of that group, and yet they represented Clinton’s opposition, in essence, her enemies.
When describing the right he used negative terms, but when describing the left and their tactics he described them in a positive way. So Hillary was being clever and Obama was logical, but Bannon grinned wickedly and Trump was unhinged. Even though it is now even more broadly known that the Democrats used underhanded tactics in the campaign, cheated and lied, he glossed over their misdeeds and their illegal behavior. Instead he used highly charged descriptions of anything representing conservatives in what seemed like an attempt to make the reader fear and dislike them. He used terms that the left used frequently to defame those they didn’t like. They call comments dog whistles and the GOP racist so often that they risk reducing the impact of the words with overuse. Green referred to the “fringe” element that has taken over the GOP, but never spoke negatively about the “fringe” element of the left that has infiltrated and changed the progressive agenda and the Democrat’s focus, that has caused chaos in their party.
To be fair, the book is not about Clinton and her dishonest cohorts, but it is hard to believe that a book concerned with the participants on the right, in the 2016 Presidential campaign, would so briefly mention the concerns about the opposing party on the left, even if only to compare them justly to make an honest point. It felt like fake news even when the truth was presented because of the obvious biased slant of the presentation of “the facts”. Oddly, at one point, the author even seemed to be praising Paul Manafort, recently indicted, for his effort to try to tame Donald Trump’s behavior. The author seemed to grasp at any straw to defame the current President and his supporters, and I fear that many of his accusations will not prove out, but the damage will be done because it is now in print. People do not often check the facts presented if they agree with the point that is made.
It seemed odd to me that he went after the wealthy Mercers, suggesting nefarious circumstances in their support of Trump, but Green never went after George Soros who may have used nefarious methods to invest vast sums of money into the DNC, using a multitude of groups associated with him, creating a maze which makes it difficult to trace the origin of the donations. He poured money into the DNC in support of Clinton, even as the left complained about the money poured into the coffers of the GOP.
He painted Bannon’s methods as ruthless but glossed over the fact that the left actually incited the violence at Trump rallies and worked actively to defeat Sanders and prop up Clinton who was even provided some debate questions, in advance, to enable her to perform better than her opposition on the stage. I deduced that this was basically nothing more than a “trash trump” exercise in book form. In the attempt to make Hillary a saint and Donald a devil, the left worked hard, but failed to secure the election. Although they demonized Trump for some classless comments, they forgave Clinton for his actual classless behavior against women. The electorate rejected the hypocrisy. They condemned Trump for anything they could think of; he is a germophobe, he is wily and a product of a racist upbringing, he is guilty of sexually harassing women. He is a loose cannon and an anti-semite given to hyperbole. These are just some of the names he has been called while the sins of his opposition were either ignored or not hammered day after day into the public arena. Obama, is described as measured, logical and sophisticated even as he interfered in a Presidential campaign which former Presidents are loath to do; and Hillary was presented as a champion of progressive causes, neither a liar nor a schemer.
The message from the author is so full of propaganda and the agenda of the left that the book, which could have been informative seemed to simply be a hit piece with the sole purpose of destroying the sitting President and those that associate with him. The author is very guilty of presenting a partisan view which I found to be extremely unfair and prejudicial. The left’s attempt to explain why Hillary lost is getting to be a very tired subject. She lost because Americans didn’t want her to win!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
dawna
So to summarize, the authors confirms - confirms in writing - all of the hypocrisy and scandals that The Right accuses The Left of (Clinton, globalists, deep state).

And then he ridicules the Right as cave dwelling troglodytes. This is a massive case of cognitive dissonance. I wonder how he sleeps.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
darrel ward
Josh Green tells a pretty good story based on fact up the the last chapter when he shows his hand and reruns the same old liberal narrative of a White house in chaos and an inevitable Trump failure. Most of Josh's speculation in that last chapter has already been proven false. He states patently "Trump doesn't believe in nationalism" as if he somehow know's what Trump believe's. Josh's shows himself to be another bitter Democrat that just can't believe the common man has demanded that Obama's stupid PC correct liberal agenda is OVER.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eddie
The author writes exceedingly well-- his writing is fresh and intense and vibrant. A rare and distinct pleasure to read.
I should note however that the title not worthy of the text. A stupid title.

I note a glaring problem in the way that authors and commentators characterize Trump supporters or readers of Breitbart.
This author calls Breitbart hard-core right and "inflammatory journalism" because it publicizes and informs the American people with regard to the outrageous number of crimes that are committed by illegals. That to me is accurate reporting. It reports on honor killings and FGM where such reports are lacking. Just because the deeds reported are unpleasant does not make them inflammatory especially when the reason they are kept out of the mainstream media is because they want to spoon feed people the news in a way that is consistent with their corporate/globalist agenda and to the hell with America. Breitbart keeps us fully appraised of what is REALLY happening in the world-- not in the fabricated universe of the biased lockstep corporate controlled mainstream media. Breitbart thus helps people make informed decisions. It also validates Bannon and Trump's objections to the fake new media insofar as they fail to report such crimes because their globalist masters want the cheap labor of illegals and forbid them from reporting the facts as it might sway voter's minds. This author is also less than accurate when he paints Trump as anti-immigrant. Why can these journalists not make a simple distinction between LEGAL and ILLEGAL immigrants? What mechanism in their minds was destroyed by political correctness that they fail to acknowledge the HUGE difference. Trump is not and was never anti-immigrant.

I am a full fledged Trump supporter in one of the most liberal states of the Union. This author and others like him pretend to know more than they do. They deal in stereotypes and the cheap currency of labels. Although Trump did not carry Massachusetts when you look at the town by town results, overall 1 in 3 residents of my state voted for Trump. They are not hard core right. They are not knee jerk conservatives. They are not any of the labels these dimwits use to characterize them. We are highly educated, former democrats who want to preserve what is best about America. I personally know many black folk, a woman from Nepal, many in the Sikh Indian community, three Pakistani brothers, Hispanics, Portuguese, etc. from Massachusetts who are all, like me, passionate supporters of Trump and what he stands for. I personally know many downtown Boston lawyers who voted for Trump though like many others they kept quiet lest the crazy leftist fascists come out and beat them up. The labels don't fit, dimwits. Wake up. We are ordinary Americans comfortable in a multicultural society but who do not want the lock step fascist politically correct ideologues shutting down our speech, vilifying people who do not share their politically correct ideology, making our cities havens for illegals or leaving our border wide open. We like law and order. We like morals. We like standards. We like God. We want to take care of our own people. We want to see the millions of young men -- black and white -- employed and rising up. We want good schools. Good roads. Good hospitals. We do not want to pay the bills for illegals in health and education while our own people suffer and are disenfranchised. What is so "hard core right" about that? I am a liberal and I voted for Trump. Now digest that, stupid dimwits.

There is clearly a prized alchemy in the chemistry between President Trump and Mr. Bannon. Together they were able to advance the moral and social interests upon which the West and the Best are founded: Christian values, rule of law, and protection of the nation and its people-- not the people of the world who have their own cultures, problems and deficiencies which need not and should not become our deficiencies and problems. I ask Mr. Trump to stay bonded with Bannon and not see his power and influence as a threat to your own. You need to stay loyal to one another no matter what. Bannon could not have done it without Trump (Trump is the very definition of the WINNING candidate) and Trump could not have done it without Bannon (I remember being viscerally aware of the winning and organized shift when Bannon came on board). It is not just that Bannon is 10 men in 1 (naval officer, financier, historian, etc.), he will counter those like McMaster who would have our troops down in the hell holes of Afghanistan again, who would bog us down in wars. He will counter the globalists in YOU and in your administration who want you to just get with the corporate program. He will stay true to nationalist populism and that is why you need him. Bannon's steadfast. He's true to the cause. You will never find another one like him. This one time, Mr. President, you need to make room for another alpha male in your midst. He is your friend and your bulwark, not a competitor but a co-operator. He's not just a guy who works for you. He's a guy who wins for you. Together you comprise the thousand man army that can conquer any foe. If you don't stay true to the populist mandate and to our patriotic nationalism, our belief and love in AMERICAN FIRST, I will never forgive you. If you cut out Bannon you will be overrun by all of your Goldman Sachs appointees who will lead you directly to the watering hole of the globalists and you know it.

Again, Green is wrong to characterize Breitbart as "inflammatory journalism". It might inflame the minds of those who resist factual reporting but that isn't breitbart's problem is it? CNN and the Washington Post and the NYT are the very definitions of BIASED, ONESIDED, UNETHICAL INFLAMMATORY journalism but that is not a truth that lock-stop liberals who get spoon feds their thoughts, their beliefs and their ideas from these sources, can readily accept. Breitbart is valuable because it STICKS to reporting the facts: the who, the what, the where. I still can't believe I used to read the NYT everyday. It's for the lockstep left who can't think for themselves but who will mouth off whatever substandard politically correct assertion they find on its pages. Must be nice n' easy not to have to think for yourself for cost of a subscription!

And no, Bannon & Breitbart did not destroy Hillary Clinton (still can't believe I sent her $250 the first time she ran). Hillary Clinton destroyed herself. Breitbart just dug up her deeds and put the pieces together into a coherent, fact based narrative that gave us the true and full story. I can't believe the victim mentality is so deep that even a journalist will ascribe the cause not to the actor herself but to those who found out how she cleverly hid her actions from the dumbo Obama who never even made sure she kept to the agreement to disclose the contributors to the Clinton Fund while she was the secretary of state. He's a complete incompetent or as unethical as she is.

In spite of the many instances in which I strongly disagree with the characterizations and labels, it is a fascinating account of the lead up to the election. It seems upon reflection that the stars or karma were aligned on the night of November 8th, there was a confluence of beliefs among voters who think for themselves that if we didn't act we would actually lose our beloved country and its foundation: the rule of law. If you know anything of history, you will know it can happen. Bannon is a thinker, a philosopher, a strategist and an actor. He gave Trump the organized message and Trump delivered it in winning style. Now he needs to stay true to the cause: clean up the inner cities so people can live in peace and security, bring back our jobs and make America wealthy again, keep out the illegals, accept only those immigrants -- of whatever religion-- who truly love our land and understand the precedence of the constitution over any religious dogma. Build the bridges, President Trump, build the tunnels and the roads. Pave the way for young black men & women and all young men and women to find and prosper in good jobs. That's what the democrats are so afraid you will do. You will put them to shame!!!! If they loved America they would help you in achieving all of those goals. But they prove every day that they hate your win and our choice more than they love America and that is why they will lose, over and over again, one vote at a time.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
louis
The Bannon background material can be found by any Google search. Actually, I found a lot more when I casually looked for information on him. The author takes a mention of an Italian philosopher by Bannon, then extrapolates on the philosopher's theories in order to make a vague, football field size leap to an association with Mussolini. I didn't get far into it without realizing Green is a Democratic operative of some sort. Much of the material was taken directly from Democratic spin with adjectives like "dystopian" and "dark" scattered generously about. Supposedly there were conversations with Bannon and Trump but if there is anything original in this book, I didn't find it. I finished it with a sense of gratitude that I borrowed it from the library and didn't spend any money on it.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
kaela
Based mainly on 20-plus hours of interviews conducted with Steve Bannon and his associates, this book tells the story of Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency, with Steve Bannon as the hero, while the rest of the gang (Priebus, Spicer, Conway) are the anti-heroes. A direct quote from the book, while describing a different time before the 2016 election, easily applies to the 2016 campaign as seen from the viewpoint of Bannon and the author: “Trump, whose habit was to surround himself with obsequious lackeys, took Bannon’s counsel more seriously than he did that of other advisors.”

The book is mildly critical about Bannon, mainly of the type of criticisms we give ourselves in job interviews—criticisms that are really compliments in disguise. Mostly the book is laudatory, and gives much of the credit of Trump’s success to Bannon: Some quotes:

“Bannon had cycled through multiple marriages and was rich, brash, charismatic, volcanic, opinionated, and never ruffled by doubt. He, too, was a businessman and a deal maker and he had faced down moguls ranging from Ted Turner to Michael Ovitz.”

“It helped to be hyper-competitive and driven, which Bannon was, and to have a healthy dose of charisma, which he certainly did.”

“[Bannon] had a knack for expository speaking and a self-confidence that bordered on arrogance.”

“A brilliant ideologue from the outer fringe of American politics—and an opportunistic businessman—whose unlikely path happened to intersect with Trump’s at precisely the right moment in history.”

“Bannon had a better feel for the American electorate’s anxieties than almost anyone else in the arena.”

“Alone among his advisors, Bannon had an unshakable faith that the billionaire reality-TV star could prevail—and a plan to get him there.”

“For years, Bannon had been searching for a vessel for his populist-nationalist ideas . . . Bannon soon discovered that Trump’s great personal force could knock down barriers that impeded other politicians, And Trump, for his part, seemed to recognize that Bannon alone could focus and channel his uncanny political intuition with striking success.”

The fun part of the book is where the author takes jabs at the others in Trump’s orbit. Completely unfair, but fun. Bannon assumes (probably correctly) that Kellyanne Conway is the source of this quote on election night: “It will take a miracle for us to win.” Bannon’s reaction is to shake his head in disgust and ask “How the hell would she know?” The author does not give a competing viewpoint, that perhaps this quote is a way of tamping down expectations so that if Trump wins, it looks all the more amazing.

An observation about Chris Christie is equally telling. It is election night, and the hotel rooms commanded by Trump are filling up as it becomes apparent that Trump is going to win. The author states “Chris Christie showed up and squeezed in next to Ivanka Trump.” So much shade is thrown at Christie in this short quote that you really have to admire the author. Christie “showed up,” which implies that he is not part of the inner circle. Christie “squeezed in,” as if he is not welcome. And he squeezed in “next to Ivanka Trump.” It’s quite the image, the corpulent, sweaty Christie pushing himself into the personal space of the pristine Ivanka.

Now, let’s look at what really happened. The room was full. Chris Christie came in. He stood in the room next to Ivanka Trump. There is no indication that he spoke to her, that he tried to curry favor with her, that he did anything but stand in a crowded room next to her.

But my favorite quote in the whole book is this one: “Word raced across the Trump war room when Priebus and Spicer were spotted packing up their personal belongings early on Election Night, apparently anticipating a swift loss.” So Priebus and Spicer are the unbelievers, the ones who never understood, the ones who never had faith in Trump as Bannon did.

Except it’s complete BS. I wasn’t there, but I know, because it defies all logic. For one, Trump’s team had been getting indications for days that they might win. “A few days earlier, Trump’s team of data scientists, squirreled away in an office down in San Antonio, had delivered a report titled ‘Predictions: Five Days Out,’ which contained stunning news that contradicted the widespread assumption that Clinton would win easily.” For another, I myself was 99% sure that Hillary Clinton would win, and I wasn’t packing my bags or doing anything but staying glued to the TV. And the author would have us believe that Priebus and Spicer were already packing up their bags and getting ready to leave?

Here is what actually happened. Bannon (or somebody on Bannon’s team) saw Priebus and Spicer put a couple of pencils in a briefcase, and decided that Priebus and Spicer were abandoning Team Trump. And Bannon sidled over to Trump and whispered his ear.

So this book is like one of those magazine articles that was clearly leaked by a member of Trump’s inner circle to advance a particular narrative. And in this case, the leaker is Bannon.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sevil
Well written and a good read until the author's political leaning started to appear: he repeated fakenews, dem talking points, and predicted the failure of the Trump presidency. Mr. Green should know better than to underestimate Trump's abilities. After all, journos predicted the election and got it wrong.

I would have given this book a better rating if he hadn't injected his opinons and if he had remained objective.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
mike nowak
He overestimates the role of Bannon in Trump's victory. It is like the Russian conspiracy theories in the mainstream media. He argues as if Bannon is the major reason for Trump's victory. I disagree with that and Trump would even disagree with this idea. Trump ran his campaign in his own style and he won. Period. Of course, others did help his campaign and one of them is Bannon. After Trump firing Bannon from his administration, it tells a lot how ridiculous this book is. Further, Bannon left Breitbart for the feud with Trump. Again, Green is one green person indeed! If you want to delude with conspiracy theories, please buy this book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
dorsa tajaddod
This book isn't that great because it is a narrative fallacy. Even the author admits he didn't see Trump's victory coming. Only after the fact did he see it, and so after the fact, he decided to write a story. If Trump didn't win, we wouldn't be hearing about Steve Bannon.

The truth is this: Steve Bannon and Trump took a low cost bet that ended up paying big. In other words, they bought a lottery ticket and they won. In addition, Cambridge Analytica's numbers indicated they had a good chance of winning.

If you look at Trump's strategy for winning, he had a "low cost" strategy that was a not traditional. His Twitter account was deliberately used to create media coverage which was worth a lot and so Trump didn't have the normal expenditures that a traditional campaign had.

Bannon is the story of a guy who worked really hard and his hard work paid off. But how many times have you seen someone work hard and the hard work doesn't pay off? If Bannon hadn't met Weisenberg's son at the Goldman Sachs recruiting event at Harvard, his life would have been so different. Bannon would have aged out. His ambition was clear. But the opportunity would have come and passed. Bannon's life gets redeemed because late in his age he hit it big. He's a 1 percenter that became a 1 percenter through sheer hard work and determination and intellectual wits.

Good for Steve Bannon.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
peter sharp
This book is a huge disappointment. Bannon must have had editorial control. It paints him as a rebellious genius. A folk hero. Never mentions Russian active measures, Wikileaks, Bernie Sanders and briefly touched on Manafort. Reinforcing a false narrative that Manafort was a bit player. So diappointed I bought this book and spent valuable time reading it. Nothing new to learn from this book. Nothing except maybe Bannons bio.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
ahmad adel
Looking back and finding just as the summary says: "Green spins the master narrative of the 2016 campaign from its origins in the far fringes of right-wing politics and reality television to its culmination inside Trump’s penthouse on election night."

keyword: "spins"

Huge waste of time and money this turned out to be. Spin this.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
don brown
Very partisan. Presents half truths and opinions without substance or facts backing them up. It appears that Stephen Green is another disgruntled Liberal who is trying to flood the landscape with his opinions. Very predictable.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
mike mcvey
As if there weren't already a gazillion conspiracy theories flying around social media already, people have to PAY to hear yet another stupid one. I read this because a friend tossed the book across the room.

Had to see what all the hoopla was about.

I laughed my booty off.

Joshua? Like Elsa sings...Just...Let it go. Maybe you'll get the song stuck in your head, instead of yet another ridiculous tale of the prez.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
gloria calandro
Devil's Bargain unconsciously reveals why the Democratic Party lost the 2016 presidential election. Written by a pro=Democratic Party journalist it has absolutely no comprehension of why Hilary Clinto lost and Donald Trump won. The book has no feel for the US electorate that rejected Clinton in favor of Trump. The book has no understanding of the times and there is no comprehension of the issues. Hilary Clinton is always shown as "clever" and her obvious corruption barely mention. Trump is always mindlessly striking out and out of control. Steve Bannon is the extreme rightist manipulating things behind the scene. The author, along with the Clinton voters, her loss was a total surprise.
If viewed from this perspective the book can be seen as an illustrattion of the pro-Hilary, pro-Obama mainstream media's total bafflement at the election result. Otherwise, save your money. Nothing worth reading if you want to understand the 2016 presidental election.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
rebecca honeycutt
I do not believe the quotations that Green gives us in this book. They do sound like the Devil and Lucifer cackling and plotting. No politician would ever allow a reporter in the same room if he were quite so devilish.
Green tells us it was "a right wing conspiracy" that did Hillary in. I thought it was Russian Collusion. No, Joshua, it was actually the Electoral College.
This book should make Lefties happy. "How could we win with all the forces of Hell arrayed against us?"
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
brian borzym
The crusade continues... A Dishonest portrayal. Propagandist and left standard bearer Josh Green contributes his two cents. Is Trump and company flawed? Yes, but it is a comparison of a molehill to Mt. Everest when contrasted with candidate Clinton.

Matthew 7:3-5King James Version (KJV)
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
nadine broome
I suspect the devil's bargain here is between the author and Steve Bannon. The book is quite laudatory about Steve Bannon. But it is an ideological screed against Donald Trump, filled with untruths. I am sorry I bought this book. As soon as the anti-Trump garbage started, I erased it .
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
ruth bolard
It's not that Joshua Green can't understand why Donald Trump became president of the United States; it's more accurate to say Green WON'T understand. The reason is obvious and stared him in the face from the very start of the campaign when tens of thousands turned out for Trump's rallies in contrast to the pathetic handful of people Hillary was barely able to muster. Americans connected with and gave their support to Trump because he shared two of their most powerful beliefs - pride in this nation and disgust at how the political establishment has betrayed it. But Green will not see this because he does not share that patriotism and, worse, he’s a member of that despised establishment. That's why he dislikes Trump, a fact made clear by his book's title. (Come on, what does it say about an author's opinion of his subject when the word he chooses to describe that subject is the most negative one in the English language - the ruler of Hell?)

It's so disappointing that Green has written such an unfair book about Trump. Green clearly has a writing skills and experience to have produced a first rate description of one of the most astonishing political upsets in this nation's history. But instead Green has chosen to exhibit his personal dislike of a candidate he neither likes nor trusts. He ends his book with dire prognostications that Trump's presidency will collapse under the weight of scandals and finishes with this unpleasant warning to Steve Bannon. "It's hard to imagine that Bannon and the legions he spoke for will wind up as anything other than the latest partners disappointed when their deal with Trump turns sour.”

Gosh, did Hillary pay Green to write this book? Anyone reading it would ask themselves the same question.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
susan ryhanen
I have tried to cancel this order immediately after submitting the order when I realized that this was a digital book. I tried to cancel and order the physical book. Everything I tried didn't work. I was never taken to a page with a link to cancel the order. I do not own any digital reader; therefore, this order is no good to me. It has taken all this time for me to find a page where I might be able to get the attention of some the store official who might help me. Nothing should be this hard!
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