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Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America

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From New York Times bestselling author Sarah Kendzior comes the bitingly honest examination of the erosion of American liberty and the calculated rise to power of Donald Trump. The rise of Donald Trump may have shocked Americans, but it should not have surprised them. His anti-democratic movement is the culmination of a decades-long breakdown of U.S. institutions. The s From New York Times bestselling author Sarah Kendzior comes the bitingly honest examination of the erosion of American liberty and the calculated rise to power of Donald Trump. The rise of Donald Trump may have shocked Americans, but it should not have surprised them. His anti-democratic movement is the culmination of a decades-long breakdown of U.S. institutions. The same blindness to U.S. decline – particularly the loss of economic stability for the majority of the population and opportunity-hoarding by the few – is reflected in an unwillingness to accept that authoritarianism can indeed thrive in the so-called “home of the free”.As Americans struggle to reconcile the gulf between a flagrant aspiring autocrat and the democratic precepts they had been told were sacred and immutable, the inherent fragility of American democracy has been revealed. Hiding in Plain Sight exposes this continual loss of freedom, the rise of consolidated corruption, and the secrets behind a burgeoning autocratic United States that have been hiding in plain sight for decades. In Kendzior’s signature and celebrated style, she expertly outlines Trump’s meteoric rise from the 1980s until today, interlinking key moments of his life with the degradation of the American political system and the continual erosion of our civil liberties by foreign powers.Kendzior also offers a never-before-seen look at her personal life and her lifelong tendency to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – living in New York through 9/11 and in St. Louis during the Ferguson uprising, and researching media and authoritarianism when Trump emerged using the same tactics as the post-Soviet dictatorships she had long studied.Hiding in Plain Sight is about confronting injustice – an often agonizing process, but an honest and necessary one – as the only way that offers the possibility of ending it.


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From New York Times bestselling author Sarah Kendzior comes the bitingly honest examination of the erosion of American liberty and the calculated rise to power of Donald Trump. The rise of Donald Trump may have shocked Americans, but it should not have surprised them. His anti-democratic movement is the culmination of a decades-long breakdown of U.S. institutions. The s From New York Times bestselling author Sarah Kendzior comes the bitingly honest examination of the erosion of American liberty and the calculated rise to power of Donald Trump. The rise of Donald Trump may have shocked Americans, but it should not have surprised them. His anti-democratic movement is the culmination of a decades-long breakdown of U.S. institutions. The same blindness to U.S. decline – particularly the loss of economic stability for the majority of the population and opportunity-hoarding by the few – is reflected in an unwillingness to accept that authoritarianism can indeed thrive in the so-called “home of the free”.As Americans struggle to reconcile the gulf between a flagrant aspiring autocrat and the democratic precepts they had been told were sacred and immutable, the inherent fragility of American democracy has been revealed. Hiding in Plain Sight exposes this continual loss of freedom, the rise of consolidated corruption, and the secrets behind a burgeoning autocratic United States that have been hiding in plain sight for decades. In Kendzior’s signature and celebrated style, she expertly outlines Trump’s meteoric rise from the 1980s until today, interlinking key moments of his life with the degradation of the American political system and the continual erosion of our civil liberties by foreign powers.Kendzior also offers a never-before-seen look at her personal life and her lifelong tendency to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – living in New York through 9/11 and in St. Louis during the Ferguson uprising, and researching media and authoritarianism when Trump emerged using the same tactics as the post-Soviet dictatorships she had long studied.Hiding in Plain Sight is about confronting injustice – an often agonizing process, but an honest and necessary one – as the only way that offers the possibility of ending it.

30 review for Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Coming, this week! .... Read it, share it .... Buy copies (from your local independent bookstore, of course) and give them as gifts.... But, seriously, read it. It's an eye-opener. Here's a taste: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opini... Also: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re... . . . Mid March 2020 update: Disappointing newsflash : Alas, Kendzior has done the responsible thing and cancelled her book tour, timed to coincide with the release of the book, in light of the coronavirus situa Coming, this week! .... Read it, share it .... Buy copies (from your local independent bookstore, of course) and give them as gifts.... But, seriously, read it. It's an eye-opener. Here's a taste: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opini... Also: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re... . . . Mid March 2020 update: Disappointing newsflash : Alas, Kendzior has done the responsible thing and cancelled her book tour, timed to coincide with the release of the book, in light of the coronavirus situation. What a shame! The public needs access to this book, and its wide distribution would be a public service.... . . . [Original review:] Pre-Order the Book! ... Read it, share it .... Buy copies and give them as gifts.... Leave them in airport lounges and train stations and bus terminals and on subway trains and on park benches ... Consider placing them in high school and college cafeterias or dorm lounges or .... Encourage your public (or school) library to buy extra copies and display them prominently. Bring the book to the attention of your local independent bookstore.... (If they ask, just tell them it's a perfect companion - in 2020 - to Timothy Snyder's sublime 2017 offering On Tyranny.) I'm glad the book will be in full circulation long before the 2020 election. I wish it had been available (for mass consumption) in advance of the impeachment investigations and proceedings. But, most of all, I'm glad she wrote it ... and that I've had a chance to read it. ... I just finished reading (my Advance Reading Copy from the publisher)..., and I want (need?) to digest my (extensive, sometimes frantic) notes and ruminate before posting a fulsome review. So, for now, if you haven't read Kendzior's View From Flyover Country, (buy and) read that ... and, of course, pre-order this. (To be clear, this is a more cohesive product than View From Flyover Country, which, of course, is a collection of essays.) True to form, Kendzior may strike you as shrill (at times, bordering on hysterical), but that's OK (even justified) because she's right ... and she says things that too many are too timid (or unimaginative) to say. I couldn't shake the image of the canary in a coal mine as I read, and I keep reminding myself that, well, the canary is there to save lives.... More later.... Again, pre-order the book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    Reading Sarah Kendzior's Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America while self-isolating against the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths from the coronavirus outbreak is to see her prediction, from 2015, that Donald Trump would decimate American democracy and her central thesis that his administration is a nexus of "political corruption, organized crime, and endemic racism" play out in real-time. With each successive chapter, and each new segment Reading Sarah Kendzior's Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America while self-isolating against the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths from the coronavirus outbreak is to see her prediction, from 2015, that Donald Trump would decimate American democracy and her central thesis that his administration is a nexus of "political corruption, organized crime, and endemic racism" play out in real-time. With each successive chapter, and each new segment of breaking news in our era of unending crises at the hands of this vulgar, orange-hued goblin, taking us from the outbreak first being a Democratic hoax, and then under control, and then, finally, having hospitals overwhelmed with patients and Trump's regime currently, daily, seizing medical supplies from a number of states in order to sell them off to the highest bidder that's sworn fealty to him personally, as well as Trump's concurrent plans to destroy the United States Postal Service in an attempt to thwart voter's ability to use mail-in ballots during November's election, you can witness kleptocratic autocracy in action, live as it happens, with this book acting as a primer on the decades of history that helped to build Donald Trump while simultaneously weakening American political institutions for further exploitation by the political elite and their well-connected cronies. What this book is not is a collection of all of Trump's many, many, many crimes - such an accounting would no doubt be a multi-volume effort with each entry rivaling Stephen King's biggest doorstoppers. Kendzior takes a far more interesting approach, using her home of St. Louis, MO as a lens with which to view a larger, evolved, and no less messy, scope of political dysfunction that serves only to benefit and further enrich the already wealthy and the criminal organizations and Russian mafiaosos they lie in bed with. Her survey reaches back through 40 years of American history and the way our laws have been weakened in order to reshape what used to be crimes into a new normal of political theatrics, and the anything-goes mentality that currently exists in D.C., where the bar of acceptable behavior is lowered on a daily basis and we must perpetually contend with the simple fact that this is no bottom to how low Trump and his elite cronies will stoop in order to line their pockets. Kendzior contends that the Trump administration is a transnational crime syndicate masquerading as a presidency, and she has all the receipts to support this claim, not least of which are Trump's own public admissions to such. And yet he remains, and revels in being, untouchable, a Teflon Don, thanks to our own institutions unwillingness to confront him and enforce the law. Hiding in Plain Sight explains it all - how it happened, why we got to the point we're at today, and why it will keep on happening. The only thing it's lacking is insight into how to stop it. How do normal, everyday people like you, me, Kendzior, and the rest of the 99% put to a stop to this international mafia and the mob boss currently sitting in the Oval Office? Can we, even? Will voting be enough, for those of us who will still be allowed to vote in November, in our Russian-hacked polls at our gerrymandered precincts, while we're likely wearing gloves and facemasks and hoping we don't contract a virus that may kill us or our loved ones? All we can do is try, because nobody else will save us. We have to stop pining for docile, weak-kneed, old men like Robert Mueller or anybody in Congress to give a single damn about us and our country, let alone save us. We have to save ourselves. Hiding in Plain Sight, meanwhile, should be on everyone's must-read list. I've been following Kendzior's Twitter feed and podcast, Gaslit Nation, for a while now, and she's a prescient, informed, and intelligent reporter, and an authority on authoritarianism. Every prediction she's made about Trump from his campaign to now have been eerily, frighteningly, and yes, heart-breakingly, gut-wrenchingly, accurate. She's a national treasure, and this book should be made mandatory reading in high school and college in the hopes that future generations, if there are any by the time Trump's finished, can better understand how America reached this point and, hopefully, how to prevent it from ever happening again. This book is a vital and necessary warning shot for our children, if only because it's already too late for us. [Note: I received an ARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]

  3. 4 out of 5

    Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    Originally published on my book blog, TheBibliophage.com. Sarah Kendzior has done it again with Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America. This is 320 pages of hard truths, and may or may not feel like healthy quarantine reading. Especially considering how much scarier everything has gotten since she finished writing this book. But I’d rather see the world through clear perspective and analysis. Rose-colored glasses aren’t my jam. Kendzior posits that the fact Originally published on my book blog, TheBibliophage.com. Sarah Kendzior has done it again with Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America. This is 320 pages of hard truths, and may or may not feel like healthy quarantine reading. Especially considering how much scarier everything has gotten since she finished writing this book. But I’d rather see the world through clear perspective and analysis. Rose-colored glasses aren’t my jam. Kendzior posits that the factors leading to the election of Donald Trump started years and years ago. She discusses his long-held connections to Russia, and their correlation to his various attempts to run for President. But this story is so much more than just one man. It’s a confluence of events, including the Ferguson, Missouri killing of Michael Brown. And as a resident of St. Louis, that’s an event Kendzior has closer ties to than all the journalists who temporarily flew in from the coasts. She clarifies how her city and state changed from wholesome Midwest to corrupt to the core. And that this wasn’t unique to Missouri, but a symptom of changes happening throughout the country. In the process, some of the usual suspects show up here: Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner. And although the latter hasn’t been charged, Kendzior lays out some suspicious dealings. And she delves a little deeper into the Jeffrey Epstein story as well. My conclusions You would expect this book to be dark, and it is. It is also written clearly and succinctly, without any bloat. I suppose Kendzior realized that her readers, like me, had probably already read a few books about this GOP administration. Like me, they didn’t need to hear about every single event again. Instead, what she does is look at this from the eyes of an expert in autocracy. Kendzior is a Ph.D. anthropologist and researcher, in addition to being a journalist. She’s been studying autocratic regimes for more than a decade. To me, this was a fresh perspective more reminiscent of Timothy Snyder than Seth Abramson. (Who are both excellent, by the way.) As the America we’ve known during our lives erodes, Kendzior suggests that we get out and experience it for ourselves. She takes trips around the country with her kids, so they can see the Rocky Mountains and more. So they can visit Presidential Libraries and other historic sites. Well, I suggest that we explore these sites from home, even while on quarantine. Find their Facebook and Twitter accounts. See what virtual tours you and your family can take. Learn the history now. And, in the process, we will be reminded that America is so much more than the occupant of the White House. It is history and change, with many languages spoken, and kinds of climate. And it’s worth fighting against corruption so that our kids and grandkids have something in their lives resembling what we’ve had in ours. [end book-inspired rant] I recommend this book if you’re a student of history, and want to see the living history of the last few decades playing out in the political situation of today. You may need to read it in small bites, but don’t let that stop you. Pair with either On Tyranny or The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder. Alternately, try something inspiring as a pair, like We Are The Change We Seek: Speeches of Barack Obama. Acknowledgements Many thanks to NetGalley, Flatiron Books, and the author for a digital ARC in exchange for this honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jen from Quebec :0)

    WOw.....This is NOT simply "a book about Trump". While, yes, it does document his rise from the 1980's to now, it is actually a book about the entire SYSTEM of America, capitalism, and privilege. It documents SO MANY important factors that really, it should have an entirely different title. Trump is more a symptom of a broken society, and this book delves deeper into important questions than ANY "book about Trump" that I have read. This is an important read, and one that I will be recommending t WOw.....This is NOT simply "a book about Trump". While, yes, it does document his rise from the 1980's to now, it is actually a book about the entire SYSTEM of America, capitalism, and privilege. It documents SO MANY important factors that really, it should have an entirely different title. Trump is more a symptom of a broken society, and this book delves deeper into important questions than ANY "book about Trump" that I have read. This is an important read, and one that I will be recommending to people. I am very happy that I snagged a copy of this during an Audible sale, and I WILL be listening to it again, as there were so many revelations that my head was spinning (in the GOOD way) and I will need a re-read to absorb all of the vital elements that Kendzior brilliantly describes. A GREAT book that everyone should read, not just Americans (after all, I myself am not an American, but still live in this inter-connected world of global capitalism and class disparity.) --Jen from Quebec :0)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

    Every American must read this book. One, so those who would never vote for this disgusting man understand how important their vote and VOICE are to the protection of our country and so those very same voters with decency and common sense can continue to inform others how important this moment in time is for equality and justice for all in life as we know it. Sarah Kendzior is a woman with courage, and this is her truth. She’s risking her life and the lives of her family in writing this book; yet Every American must read this book. One, so those who would never vote for this disgusting man understand how important their vote and VOICE are to the protection of our country and so those very same voters with decency and common sense can continue to inform others how important this moment in time is for equality and justice for all in life as we know it. Sarah Kendzior is a woman with courage, and this is her truth. She’s risking her life and the lives of her family in writing this book; yet her inherent duty to warn and her studied, prophetic knowledge and experience fuel her fire with the hope readers and America will see the urgency. This is our truth as well: We must continue to expose Donald Trump. We cannot stay silent. Two, most importantly, this book must be read by those who will cast their vote in FAVOR of this monster in November. You have ignored his lifetime of criminality, immorality, apathy, indecency, and arrogance. This therefore makes you complicit in the destruction of democracy and the demolition of American values, morals, and laws, as well as worldwide lives we lose along the way. This book here is your chance to know the truth. This election will decide which path America takes. You alone will decide your path and on which side of history you will be placed. I implore you to read this book. I beg you to read this book. Then vote wisely.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    You can't excuse it away. It's not behavioral. It's a personality trait disorder & it's dangerous. The problem is nobody wants to admit they were dooped just like nobody wants to take accountability and responsibility for putting this danger upon us all. So, the blame, shame, shifting of responsibility and finger pointing is on full steam ahead even during a pandemic. I've noted it myself and have felt strongly that the constant living in a fight or flight response is not the norm. The degradation You can't excuse it away. It's not behavioral. It's a personality trait disorder & it's dangerous. The problem is nobody wants to admit they were dooped just like nobody wants to take accountability and responsibility for putting this danger upon us all. So, the blame, shame, shifting of responsibility and finger pointing is on full steam ahead even during a pandemic. I've noted it myself and have felt strongly that the constant living in a fight or flight response is not the norm. The degradation of women's rights, the taking away from the impoverished, the rise of inequality for the top 1% has to end yet it only continues to get worse. Why? Because everyone is afraid of the 'monster'.... Nobody wants to be the next target, the next victim, the next source of supply. As someone who married and then thankfully divorced a malignant narcissist 11 yrs later (with 3 kids from union) I can tell you this is only the tip of the iceberg. What you don't see is the shy cunning and manipulative ways that many wouldn't believe even if you documented such as I with pics of abuse, police records/reports, legal paperwork, banking statements to show the financial instabilities and deceit, and taxes...YES, taxes because they are in effect nothing more than financial disasters. In fact, knowing we were headed for divorce mine immediately sold off everything of value, emptied all accounts including mutual funds/stock/bonds/college funds, emptied all real estate value including mortgaging all property taking out all lines of credit for home equity loans, and more. I can't begin to tell you how dangerous these individuals are but I assure you even with the 'smoking gun' nobody will believe you. What happens is called a smear campaign against the truth tellers. Anything you say or do will be denied, twisted, ignored, slipped under, and silenced by use of threats, fear, intimidation, manipulation, gaslighting, and more. Surely, the last thing people want is the truth because it doesn't fit the agenda. Most believe in inherent goodness and that's why it's so hard to believe anyone could be deceitful and operate off a false sense of self. Those who lack empathy, compassion, responsibility, accountability, and need this constant ego stroking for attention, adulation, praise and benefit to ONE will line up behind one another and go off the cliff together just to be by their leader. They will adhere to everything the leader notes because they dare not question it for themselves. They truly believe what he sells is more than a brand, a name, a false sense of hope, and more than just empty promises and broken dreams. Why should they seek the truth by simply following the destructive trail of the pasts much less simply opening their eyes to the current actions. Remember this my friends- Actions speak louder than words. Just like myself - it was hard to admit- that I was fooled. That I believed in something that was simply smoke, mirrors, and fog in essence a bottomless pit. When you begin to lose a sense of self, when you start playing detective, when you start questioning what the leader does you will uncover everything was in plain sight you just didn't want to see it. It's hard to acknowledge and yet it must be done because you can't excuse what you see with your own two eyes playing out daily. You have to trust your gut instincts and know that this is not nor will be the new norm and certainly not if any of us who know the truth have their say. Please don't feed the narcs. The worst thing you can do is continue to give them the spotlight because even negative attention for them is still attention. Now, I speak from experience, but also in general layman terms towards malignant narcissism, since I can't diagnose from afar. I know the truth, I know the end result, and all I can do is pray for the world to catch up because those who see the truth will not be silenced. Keep telling your story. Someday they will hear all of us.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Mae

    This was a pretty depressing read, but I knew most of the material covered. I've lived through it. I've experienced it. I appreciate the realism and groundedness of Kendzior - I'm a big fan of her other book, and looked forward to reading this one. If nothing else, it's a catalog and a timeline of events that I hope will be rectified and made right in my lifetime. It's a reminder of our recent past. I look forward to reading more from Kendzior and hoping she continues to speak truth as loudly as This was a pretty depressing read, but I knew most of the material covered. I've lived through it. I've experienced it. I appreciate the realism and groundedness of Kendzior - I'm a big fan of her other book, and looked forward to reading this one. If nothing else, it's a catalog and a timeline of events that I hope will be rectified and made right in my lifetime. It's a reminder of our recent past. I look forward to reading more from Kendzior and hoping she continues to speak truth as loudly as she can.

  8. 4 out of 5

    andy

    This is just as good as Dr. Kendzior´s flyover book. I don’t think that independent thinkers need a book to see what’s going on in our country though. Ideology aside, most of us are caught in that horrible dilemma of accepting between a psychopath or an idiot, for this con artist who supposedly is our president. I feel terribly sorry about the folks who he managed to manipulate because their dignity had been hurt. As for the rest: racists, entitled assholes, or even simply decent people who just This is just as good as Dr. Kendzior´s flyover book. I don’t think that independent thinkers need a book to see what’s going on in our country though. Ideology aside, most of us are caught in that horrible dilemma of accepting between a psychopath or an idiot, for this con artist who supposedly is our president. I feel terribly sorry about the folks who he managed to manipulate because their dignity had been hurt. As for the rest: racists, entitled assholes, or even simply decent people who just surrendered to their political biases, I truly hope they are a minority. Otherwise, United States is totally fucked if we elect him again.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Sarah Kendzior's Hiding in Plain Sight gives us a clear and impactful recounting of how Donald Trump got where he is today, and the cast of characters who helped get him there. Essential reading for supporters and opponents alike, this story of what has happened to our nation and its highest office speaks to all of us. If I could compel everyone who truly wants to "make America great again" to read any book in the thick of this election year, it would be this one. History counts and so do facts, Sarah Kendzior's Hiding in Plain Sight gives us a clear and impactful recounting of how Donald Trump got where he is today, and the cast of characters who helped get him there. Essential reading for supporters and opponents alike, this story of what has happened to our nation and its highest office speaks to all of us. If I could compel everyone who truly wants to "make America great again" to read any book in the thick of this election year, it would be this one. History counts and so do facts, and Kendzior explains in a manner as gripping as any novelist's exactly what has happened and why, bringing the story up to what is happening now. The plot, the characters, the context--everything will grab the reader and refuse to let go. Be sure to preorder today!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This is the most clear eyed and sadly depressing of the Trump themed books I've read over the last three years. It is also the best. As a journalist living in St Louis, Missouri Kendzior has a first hand experience of a living in a battleground (literally and politically) and this gives the book an urgency and depth than had it been written by someone on either of the media friendly coasts. Required reading for anyone who has even a passing interest in the orange one and the social conditions th This is the most clear eyed and sadly depressing of the Trump themed books I've read over the last three years. It is also the best. As a journalist living in St Louis, Missouri Kendzior has a first hand experience of a living in a battleground (literally and politically) and this gives the book an urgency and depth than had it been written by someone on either of the media friendly coasts. Required reading for anyone who has even a passing interest in the orange one and the social conditions that made his election possible. Highly recommended

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Description excerpt: Hiding in Plain Sight exposes this continual loss of freedom, the rise of consolidated corruption, and the secrets behind a burgeoning autocratic United States that have been hiding in plain sight for decades. In Kendzior’s signature and celebrated style, she expertly outlines Trump’s meteoric rise from the 1980s until today, interlinking key moments of his life with the degradation of the American political system and the continual erosion of our civil liberties by foreign Description excerpt: Hiding in Plain Sight exposes this continual loss of freedom, the rise of consolidated corruption, and the secrets behind a burgeoning autocratic United States that have been hiding in plain sight for decades. In Kendzior’s signature and celebrated style, she expertly outlines Trump’s meteoric rise from the 1980s until today, interlinking key moments of his life with the degradation of the American political system and the continual erosion of our civil liberties by foreign powers.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    The opening chapter in which Kendzior discusses the politics and socio-economic conditions in Missouri is very enlightening – it is reminiscent of the best parts of Thomas Franks’ ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas’. The remainder of the book is in large part a discussion of Trump’s rise and crooked dealings, in which the book covers ground that’s fairly well established regarding his misconduct. She paints a bleak picture of the potential future with the current trajectory and this serves as a good The opening chapter in which Kendzior discusses the politics and socio-economic conditions in Missouri is very enlightening – it is reminiscent of the best parts of Thomas Franks’ ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas’. The remainder of the book is in large part a discussion of Trump’s rise and crooked dealings, in which the book covers ground that’s fairly well established regarding his misconduct. She paints a bleak picture of the potential future with the current trajectory and this serves as a good reminder of why so much is at stake next Nov 3rd.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cori

    Excellent. Well written. If you care about democracy, the here and now of our country and it’s future, read this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This book will infuriate you if you aren't already. Sarah Kendzior tracks the rise of Trump from the 80's through today. She explores how our democracy is being threatened and how our popular media and how leaders on both sides of the aisle fail to hold him accountable, and thus are failing American democracy. The most terrifying thing, and something that will now consume all of my worry energy, is how the unprecedented access that Ivanka and Jared have positions them to rise in power and influe This book will infuriate you if you aren't already. Sarah Kendzior tracks the rise of Trump from the 80's through today. She explores how our democracy is being threatened and how our popular media and how leaders on both sides of the aisle fail to hold him accountable, and thus are failing American democracy. The most terrifying thing, and something that will now consume all of my worry energy, is how the unprecedented access that Ivanka and Jared have positions them to rise in power and influence - and maybe to the Presidency if they aren't kept in check. The author weaves in her personal narrative including her experiences during 9/11, the Ferguson protests, and the 2016 election. This book isn't a call to action, or even a wake up call - it's likely that the typical reader of this book is already a member of this choir. In the epilogue she writes about taking her kids on trips to historical sites so they can bear witness to our history and remember the America that was. This book feels like she is her way to bear witness so she can say 'I told you so' when the shit REALLY hits the fan.

  15. 4 out of 5

    AC

    A deeply moving and timely book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey May

    Kelptocracy In Plain Sight Sarah Kendzior writes tight, powerful sentences, poetic and meme-ready quotes to be admired and emblazoned as precursors to action, the clarion calls that helped avoid an all too real impending crisis. If we all had her courage, wisdom, research skills, clarity of thought, and talent at concisely stating fact, the world might become a better place. And I say this not just because I’m from her hometown. Her description of Missouri and St. Louis almost made me defensive; s Kelptocracy In Plain Sight Sarah Kendzior writes tight, powerful sentences, poetic and meme-ready quotes to be admired and emblazoned as precursors to action, the clarion calls that helped avoid an all too real impending crisis. If we all had her courage, wisdom, research skills, clarity of thought, and talent at concisely stating fact, the world might become a better place. And I say this not just because I’m from her hometown. Her description of Missouri and St. Louis almost made me defensive; surely she was wrong about my home. But if I looked beyond the insulated world of St. Louis county where I live and did more than take daylight strolls through north city where I worked as an underpaid, underappreciated adjunct, then I might be screaming louder, working harder to help her turn the country around and right the injustices so clearly evident. I will try to call out the corruption, the Kleptocracy “hiding in plain sight,” despite the potential for online ridicule and retaliation. But whatever online abuse you and I might encounter pales in comparison to the threats of physical harm and the death threats Kendzior has endured. Those who have dared to challenge the Keptocrat and aspiring autocrat who cheated his way into the presidency (worse than how he cheats on his wives) have all suffered from blistering retaliation. Kendzior finished her book pre-impeachment, pandemic, economic collapse, and the current protests over racism and police brutality, before Trump used the military for a photo op, called for them to attack US citizens, and the ensuing backlash. While she is hesitant to use the word “hope,” I do hope she see these events as the beginning of an age where her generation will not “settle for scraps” left on the floor by subjugating Kleptocrats selling them “survival as aspiration.” Kendzior is an expert on autocratic authoritarian regimes in Central Asia, specifically Uzbekistan, and she sees an all too familiar pattern, the pillaging of our national treasures, nepotism, threats to our security from the highest office, relinquishing freedoms in service to the autocrat, the unthinkable transformation of the United States into a dictatorship. Her book outlines in clear unassailable detail Trump’s rise to power, his longstanding connections to Russia, clear admissions and evidence that he is inexorably entwined with Russian autocrats and Keptocrats, the Russian mafia, criminals who have helped him rise to power, and the mostly Republican enablers who are complicit in his continuing criminal activity. While most of her ire is directed at Republicans, she casts a sharp eye on failures in democratic administrations as well, adding further legitimacy to her argument. We have no leader, only a conman who thrives on chaos as a means for imposing autocratic control. In this dangerous world, we the people must take control. We must step in and lead. We must break free of voter suppression and brave the pandemic, ridiculously long lines, intimidation from gun-toting enforcers, and help others go the polls. We must all vote. And in the months leading up to November third 2020 we must be vigilant, we must help others vote by mail, we must call out corruption continually and begin the process of healing. Yes, that means voting for Joe Biden, but our votes need to include the House and the Senate, and state and local officials, and just maybe then we can convince Kandzior to accept hope, with all its positive connotations, and convince her that we will never again divorce hope from action.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alisa Wilhelm

    5 stars because this book is an important documentation of the Trump era. Kendzior has a PhD in West Asian autocracies and returned to freelance journalism after many of the jobs in her field were eliminated. In this book she skillfully and clearly demonstrates the ties between individuals in Russia and the US government that goes back decades (she quips: "'It's all in public record!!' will be on my tombstone."). She has a secondary thesis in the book, which is to show that Trump voters and red 5 stars because this book is an important documentation of the Trump era. Kendzior has a PhD in West Asian autocracies and returned to freelance journalism after many of the jobs in her field were eliminated. In this book she skillfully and clearly demonstrates the ties between individuals in Russia and the US government that goes back decades (she quips: "'It's all in public record!!' will be on my tombstone."). She has a secondary thesis in the book, which is to show that Trump voters and red states are not a monolith and voted for Trump for a variety of nuanced reasons--none of which included the destruction of national parks and heritage sites, the enrichening of Trump's friends and family with government money through nepotistic contracts, allowing foreign hostile actors to shape national policy, or the infiltration of US institutions like the FBI and the Treasury with documented Russian agents. She has clearly lost hope of any return to our deeply flawed democracy as we used to know it and has focused her energies on preserving a historical record of America as beautiful and diverse before the winners have a chance to rewrite history. Kendzior writes from a place of love for her country, her state, and her children. She is not afraid to face the flaws (Missouri appears to be a lawless hellscape), yet she remains a loyal patriot... albeit one who needs undercover bodyguards when she speaks in public.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brad Krautwurst

    I was provided an e-ARC of this book through the publisher in exchange for an honest review. So... here's the thing, I want to give this two different ratings so I tried to compromise. Basically the reason is because other than a few minor quibbles of mine which I had while reading the book but have since forgotten about (so they were clearly pretty minor), Sarah Kendzior is right about everything and generally always has been going back to 2015. The thing is... her and Andrea Chalupa (whose book I was provided an e-ARC of this book through the publisher in exchange for an honest review. So... here's the thing, I want to give this two different ratings so I tried to compromise. Basically the reason is because other than a few minor quibbles of mine which I had while reading the book but have since forgotten about (so they were clearly pretty minor), Sarah Kendzior is right about everything and generally always has been going back to 2015. The thing is... her and Andrea Chalupa (whose book I also have and will... eventually get to) have had a podcast called Gaslit Nation for a bit more than a year now, and, my issue is that as someone who has listened to that podcast religiously for a while now, other than taking a break recently, this book is like a greatest hits of the podcast. Which, if that's what it had been marketed as (say, Gaslit Nation: The Book), would have been fine. But there's almost nothing new in this book that she and Andrea Chalupa haven't already said 10,000 times on Gaslit Nation. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the opportunity to have this all in print and that it is in a new media, but I guess I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a lot of crossover and for those of us who have listened to Gaslit Nation to expect new information or...something. So because of that I wanted to give it 2 stars. I can't exactly review it as someone else who has never listened to Gaslit Nation. If you haven't listened to Gaslit Nation (which you should) or if you really just want a refresher on everything said in that podcast, definitely read this book and in *that* case it should get 5 stars. Kendzior's writing is succinct and she lays out the facts, which are mostly just out in the open, hence the title, and she definitely does have a way with words - she didn't coin the phrase "an transnational crime syndicate masquerading as a government" for nothing. I also *did* appreciate the section on Ferguson, because though I knew she was from St. Louis and knew she covered Ferguson I didn't realize the extent. I really do think folks should listen to her more and I am glad that this is now in the public eye even more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christa Van

    After reading this book, you may find yourself pondering...is democracy even a thing anymore? Crazy times is all you can really think as you marvel at how things have come to this. The country isn't easy to live in anymore but there aren't any obvious other choices either. What will it take to get the average person interested in the decline? It isn't that they aren't interested, there are limits to what any individual can do. Kendzior spends a lot of time talking about these issues and warning After reading this book, you may find yourself pondering...is democracy even a thing anymore? Crazy times is all you can really think as you marvel at how things have come to this. The country isn't easy to live in anymore but there aren't any obvious other choices either. What will it take to get the average person interested in the decline? It isn't that they aren't interested, there are limits to what any individual can do. Kendzior spends a lot of time talking about these issues and warning people yet is still met with surprise when events she foretold come to pass. Not exactly uplifting but should be required reading.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lorene

    The author brought research that I was not aware of and history that I had forgotten because there is just so much going on with this president. It's too bad that much of what the author discusses is happening in front of our eyes, yet the media is not interested in reporting on it extensively. This book is a must read for background and context on current affairs.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    A love letter to America. Brilliant. Truth laid bare.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Leave it to Sarah Kendzior to give us another quality researched political book - this time on a long history of how, what and why Trump came into power. As she famously says nothing is new, "it's all in the public records" - thankfully she has taken the time and effort to get into those records and produce an alarming history that has always been there in plain sight, but ignored by the majority of us for too long! My wish is this book gets read by everyone - those who, like me, hate what is ha Leave it to Sarah Kendzior to give us another quality researched political book - this time on a long history of how, what and why Trump came into power. As she famously says nothing is new, "it's all in the public records" - thankfully she has taken the time and effort to get into those records and produce an alarming history that has always been there in plain sight, but ignored by the majority of us for too long! My wish is this book gets read by everyone - those who, like me, hate what is happening, and even more by those who have come to believe in and accept Trump as their leader.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I finished this tonight at about 1:30am during a bout of insomnia brought on by anxiety during the great covid 19 quarantine of 2020. Our feckless leader suggested that we use disinfectant inside the body and use in light on the skin of inside the body at a rally pretending to be a press briefing. This prompted Lysol to issue a statement on the safety of ingesting its product. (Not the best idea btw). The white house is now pushing the false narrative that he orange menace was being sarcastic. T I finished this tonight at about 1:30am during a bout of insomnia brought on by anxiety during the great covid 19 quarantine of 2020. Our feckless leader suggested that we use disinfectant inside the body and use in light on the skin of inside the body at a rally pretending to be a press briefing. This prompted Lysol to issue a statement on the safety of ingesting its product. (Not the best idea btw). The white house is now pushing the false narrative that he orange menace was being sarcastic. Thank you Ms Kendzior for having the bravery and honesty to do what most journalists won't by calling out Individual One on most of his lawlessness and crimes (I say most because I believe we only have a surface level idea of all crimes he's involved in)

  24. 5 out of 5

    William Brinkman

    A very good overview of the Trump administration up to 2019 with interesting asides about living in a Red State. As someone who lived in Missouri, I can relate to her experiences. She effectively draws parallels between the authorities regimes she studied. I feel the book is mostly correct in its speculation about Trump My minor criticism is that she asserts some of his actions are planned, when they are more likely due to incompetence and a lack of planning. It’s a minor criticism because I thi A very good overview of the Trump administration up to 2019 with interesting asides about living in a Red State. As someone who lived in Missouri, I can relate to her experiences. She effectively draws parallels between the authorities regimes she studied. I feel the book is mostly correct in its speculation about Trump My minor criticism is that she asserts some of his actions are planned, when they are more likely due to incompetence and a lack of planning. It’s a minor criticism because I think she is right about him overall. Loyal Trump supporters will hate it, but everyone else should consider her insights.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Calvin Webster

    As crazy as times are now, and even crazier what the current admin is doing, Trump specifically, it has been hard to fully understand that what I am seeing and feeling and reading before my very eyes is really really true. So many questions that beg me to reconcile my worldview with the motivations of our current President. Sarah's book refocuses my understanding of this and gives a concise pathology for me to understand the motivations of Trump and how things are interrelated on a world stage. As crazy as times are now, and even crazier what the current admin is doing, Trump specifically, it has been hard to fully understand that what I am seeing and feeling and reading before my very eyes is really really true. So many questions that beg me to reconcile my worldview with the motivations of our current President. Sarah's book refocuses my understanding of this and gives a concise pathology for me to understand the motivations of Trump and how things are interrelated on a world stage. As my eroding trust and increasing bias of information I consume to inform me, I now realize I have to be more discerning in what I accept as truth and what is spin or unfounded opinion and bias. This book helps me have a guidepost to lean on in these exhausting times. I trust it because the author is an expert; I trust it because there are receipts. I trust it because other signals of information I trust also seem to point in these directions. It's well written, interesting, and clarifies my understanding so that I can better navigate and inform my own opinions.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ronna Russell

    Sarah's book should be required reading. I am grateful to her for the sacrifices she makes to inform--she puts her own safety at risk by doing so.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Yeah. Sara Kendzior has been the canary in the coal mine on this topic for past several years. I read the digital book simultaneously at times listening to the author's audio presentation. Sara Kendzior shows that we are not being ruled by fools (kakistocracy) but rather ruled by thieves (kleptocracy). There is so much to unpack; So clearly outlined! I see from this story as well as other warning books, Trump, and his backers, must be stopped if we are to continue as a somewhat functioning democra Yeah. Sara Kendzior has been the canary in the coal mine on this topic for past several years. I read the digital book simultaneously at times listening to the author's audio presentation. Sara Kendzior shows that we are not being ruled by fools (kakistocracy) but rather ruled by thieves (kleptocracy). There is so much to unpack; So clearly outlined! I see from this story as well as other warning books, Trump, and his backers, must be stopped if we are to continue as a somewhat functioning democracy. His enablers and propaganda media are not going to intervene; It's up to us.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    If you read one political book to gain an understanding of how we got to the place we now find ourselves in America, I highly recommend Sarah Kendzior's "Hiding in Plain Sight". Finished in a day as it is a quick read and very hard to put down. She documents what was happening in America alongside what Trump was doing throughout different decades to document the rise of kleptocracy in the United States. I found many parallels between what has happened in her home state of Missouri and my own as If you read one political book to gain an understanding of how we got to the place we now find ourselves in America, I highly recommend Sarah Kendzior's "Hiding in Plain Sight". Finished in a day as it is a quick read and very hard to put down. She documents what was happening in America alongside what Trump was doing throughout different decades to document the rise of kleptocracy in the United States. I found many parallels between what has happened in her home state of Missouri and my own as corrupt officials funded by dark money took over.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Stop what you're doing, get this book, read it, read the articles she cites, take a deep breath and possibly a nap, and then get to work with the knowledge you've gained. A necessary book to prepare for the immediate future.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    Yeah, writing this review the day after the Michael Flynn case was dropped by DOJ fixer William Barr. All the sordid relationships in Kendzior's book continue to play out in this age of COVID-19 when Americans very well may not even be able to VOTE come election day because the USPS has been shut down and absentee ballots don't go out and the old people who usually work at polling places are dying and 4 million felons who paid their dues and who were given their rights back by Florida voters see Yeah, writing this review the day after the Michael Flynn case was dropped by DOJ fixer William Barr. All the sordid relationships in Kendzior's book continue to play out in this age of COVID-19 when Americans very well may not even be able to VOTE come election day because the USPS has been shut down and absentee ballots don't go out and the old people who usually work at polling places are dying and 4 million felons who paid their dues and who were given their rights back by Florida voters see them snatched back by a bought-off judiciary . . . . I could go on, but you get the picture. This book is very depressing, but here is compelling evidence that our country is blindly skipping down the road to authoritarianism. Given her experience, Kendzior should know, she's seen it before. This book made me sad and angry. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Kendzior has done her homework; her revelations and accusations are supported by facts noted in her sources at the end of the book. She doesn't work for either Side of the Aisle, but is an academic who lives in St Louis and loves America and its people. The only thing I didn't like was Kendzior's writing style. If this information was presented without the chest-beating theatrics and subjective voice, I believe it would serve a larger number of people. There are those who will just write this off as another attack on Trump and his ilk from the left. This is not that. This is a truth that should speak from the middle and strive to get the message out to all Americans. I don't feel the book serves the greatest number of readers in that way. Yesterday, Trump nominated a 37-year-old unqualified, inexperienced KY judge, Justin Walker, to the DC Court of Appeals. Read what Kendzior has to saw about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, presidential "advisors" who never should have gotten top national security clearance. Nepotism keeps the rot going. I knew the Citizens United ruling was bad for our democracy. I did not know that Russians gave money to the NRA who in turn used the cash to support GOP candidates. I thought we just had to worry about trolls riling up the masses on social media. Good God, the mess we are in. Anyway, read this book. It will surely break your heart and make you nostalgic for the America you used to know and the one we have certainly lost.

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