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Reviews for The Big Lie

by Jonathan Lemire

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A compendium of Donald Trump’s massive campaign of fraud, grift, and democracy-killing mendacity, in and out of office. It will come as no surprise that Trump built a tottering empire on lies. Though he doesn’t bring much fresh news, Lemire, White House bureau chief at Politico and host at MSNBC, does a useful service by assembling Trump’s fabrications in one place. The biggest of those lies is the constellation of assertions that the 2020 election was rigged and that Trump won. Of course, Trump, “the unlikeliest major party presidential nominee in more than a century,” was saying the same thing in 2016, preparing his base for what seemed the inevitable loss to Hillary Clinton. When he won, rather than admit that he might have been wrong, Trump continued to claim that the election was rigged, with illegal ballots that conspired to deprive him of winning the popular vote as well as the Electoral College. Even co-conspirator fellow grifter Steve Bannon, writes Lemire, commented, “Trump would say anything, he would lie about anything to win that moment, to win whatever exchange he was having at that moment.” As Lemire consistently and depressingly shows throughout his narrative, Trump blustered and lied about everything, and many of them “were just plain hard to categorize, like Trump’s insistence that windmills cause cancer.” The problem was, as Lemire documents, enough people believed his lies—whether the opening-moment-in-office lie that the inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s or the closing one that he had swept the ballot in 2020—that we wound up with Jan. 6. Where fresh news is in short supply, the author’s warnings run long. If anything, the lies will mount, as will the violence, even as a compliant and frightened Republican Party, which had its moment to stand up for democracy on Jan. 7, acquiesces to its lying master. A potent indictment that, lest anyone forget, underscores the dangers of Trump and Trumpism. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.