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American Carnage summary

Tim Alberta

On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump

4 (76 ratings)
24 mins

Brief summary

American Carnage by Tim Alberta is a political book that delves into the ideological warfare within the Republican Party since 2008. It analyzes how Donald Trump's presidency brought about changes in the GOP's infrastructure and voter base.

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    American Carnage
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    During the 2008 Republican primaries, the anti-immigration mood signaled what the future would look like for the Republican party.

    By 2008, the Republicans had been in government for ten years. The subprime mortgage crisis was in full swing, and the Iraq War had proven a disastrous and costly expedition. If you were a Republican facing the coming election, things looked bleak.

    In the primary contests, Republicans expected the debates to center around two big issues: endless war abroad and the financial crisis.

    They didn’t. When the various candidates began campaigning in town halls and stadiums around the country, they found that the most heated topic was immigration.

    In 2007, President George W. Bush had passed a comprehensive immigration reform plan that would have allowed millions of people without official residency the right to attain full citizenship. John McCain, one of the Republican presidential contenders in 2008, had helped pass that policy.

    Now, he was meeting Republican voters and was taken aback by how viscerally angry they were about it. Even in regions where there was very little immigration, it remained the key issue. At one meeting, exasperated by yet another question about “Mexican illegals” endangering the local community, McCain snapped: “Ma’am, you live in New Hampshire, what are you worried about? A bunch of angry French Canadians?”

    To mainstream Republican politicians, the root of this pervasive fear was clear: immigrants were scapegoats for the feelings of instability that deindustrialization and free-market policies had brought to large swathes of the US over the last thirty years.

    Mitt Romney, who was one of the other contenders in the 2008 contest, understood this. He knew that many of the free-market policies that the Republicans had supported themselves had devastated industry and fragmented public services. Car and steel factories had closed down as the US sought cheap imports. And basic state services had long ago been privatized or underfunded as all was sacrificed to market ideology.

    Romney knew all of this but, opportunistically, he played to right-wing prejudices. He even began attacking McCain on his pro-immigration record, insinuating that McCain didn’t understand the real concerns of working Americans. What this all boiled down to was a rejection of what George W. Bush had termed “compassionate conservatism.” Rather than the open, internationalist worldview of the Republican Party establishment over the last thirty years, Romney was inflaming nativist prejudices for political gain.

    This theme would return again and again over the coming years.

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    What is American Carnage about?

    American Carnage (2019) details the ideological battle at the heart of the Republican Party over the last decade. From George Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” to the Tea Party’s right-wing fervor, Tim Alberta covers the ideological metamorphosis that led to Donald Trump’s presidency.

    American Carnage Review

    American Carnage (2019) is a thought-provoking exploration of how Donald Trump reshaped the Republican Party. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a deep dive into the political landscape of the United States, providing an insightful analysis of Trump's rise to power and the resulting implications.
    • Through extensive research and interviews, the book presents a comprehensive picture of the key players, strategies, and ideologies that shaped Trump's presidency.
    • With its unbiased approach and meticulous attention to detail, the book avoids sensationalism and presents a balanced view of the events, making it a compelling and enlightening read.

    Who should read American Carnage?

    • Anyone with an interest in American politics 
    • Budding Washington hacks
    • Those anxious about the rise of the far right

    About the Author

    Tim Alberta is the chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine. Before that, he worked for the National Review and National Journal. His journalism has appeared in dozens of major publications, including Sports Illustrated and The Atlantic. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia, with his wife and three sons.

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    American Carnage FAQs 

    What is the main message of American Carnage?

    American Carnage provides an inside look into the Republican Party's transformation over the past decade.

    How long does it take to read American Carnage?

    The reading time for American Carnage varies depending on the reader's speed. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is American Carnage a good book? Is it worth reading?

    American Carnage is a thought-provoking read, shedding light on the dynamics within the Republican Party. Definitely worth checking out.

    Who is the author of American Carnage?

    American Carnage is authored by Tim Alberta.

    What to read after American Carnage?

    If you're wondering what to read next after American Carnage, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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