I Alone Can Fix It : Donald J Trump's Catastrophic Final Year by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. Landslide ; The Final Days of the Trump Presidency by Michael Wolff.

Two new books about the final year of Donald J Trump's presidency are entering the cultural bloodstream. The first, ''Landslide,'' by the gadfly journalist Michael Wolf, is the one to leap upon, even though the second, '' I Alone Can Fix It,'' from the Washington Post journalist Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, is vastly more earnest and diligent, to a fault.

This is Wolff's third book about Trump in the past three years. It's Leonnig and Rucker's second, after the excellent ''A Very Stable Genius,'' which appeared in early 2020. This one, alas, reads like 300 daily newspaper articles taped together so that they resemble an inky Kerouacian scroll, Each article longs to jump to Page A28 on a different scroll, in another room.

Perhaps it's not authors' fault that ''I Alone Can Fix It'' is grueling. It maybe that a reader, having survived Covid-19, ''stop the steal'' and the bear-spray welders, and feeling a certain amount of relief, John Lanchester has said, is the most powerful emotion - is uneager to rummage soon through a dense, just-the-facts scrapbook of a dismal year.

A primary and not insignificant achievement in '' I Alone Can Fix It, '' however, is bravura introduction of a new American hero, a man who has heretofore not received a great deal of attention : Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A better title for the book might have been ''Mr. Milley Goes to Washington.''

There tend not to be a lot of people to root for in Trump books. Reading them is like watching WWE fights in which all the wrestlers are heels, smashing each other with folding chairs. Milley provides Leonnig and Rucker with not just an adult in the room, but also a human being with command of facts, a long view of history, a strong jaw and a moral center.

Milley explains the constitution to Trump. He delivers the cinematic, Eisenhower-worthy monologues, such as ''Everything is going to be OK. We're going to have a peaceful transfer of power. We're going to land this plane safely. This is America.''

In one meeting he tells the egregious Stephen Miller to ''shut the [expletive] up.'' 

We were, Miller suggests, closer than we know to the precipice. A crucial moment in this book details the final weeks of Trump's presidency, when the stitching was really coming off the ball.

Milley told aides he feared a coup, and, Leonnig and Rucker write, ''saw parallels between Trump's rhetoric of election fraud and Adolf Hitler's insistence to his followers at the Nuremberg rallied that he was both a victim and their savior.'' Milley told aides : ''This is Reichstag moment.''

You never sense Wolff has the political world in his hands, the way Theodore H. White did in his ''The Making of the President'' books.

He lacks the bristling erudition of a Garry Wills. ''Landslide,'' with its impudent and inquisitive qualities, put me in mind of Joe McGinniss's ''The Selling of the President 1968,'' like McGinniss, Wolf embeds himself like a tick, even while socially distancing.

Wolff doesn't have Mark Milley. He's not so interested in the Covid narrative. He zeroes in on the chaos and the kakistocracy, on how nearly everyone with a sense of decency fled Trump in his final months, and how he was left with clapped-out charlatans like Sidney Powell and Giullani. Gullian's flatulence is a running joke in this book, and the author doesn't find him funny at all.

Wolff has scenes Leonnig and Rucker don't. These include election night details, such as the freak-out in Trump world when Fox News called Arizona early for Joseph R. Biden Jr. Wolff, who wrote a biography of Rupert Murdoch, describes the frantic phone calls that flew back and forth before the word came down from Nurdoch himself about Trump's complaints : ''[ Expletive ] him.''

In this accounting Trump belittles his followers. ''Trump often expressed puzzlement over who these people were,'' Wolff writes, '' their low-rent 'trailer camp' bearing and their 'getups,' once joking that he should have invested in a chain of tattoo parlors and shaking his head about ' the great unwashed.' ''

Wolff has an eye for status details. A typical comment : ''Bedminster had hopeful airs of a British gentlemen's club, but looked more like a streak restaurant.''

It was another Wolff, Tom, who commented that ''the dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.'' The authors of both these books conclude with fresh Trump interviews, seaside at Mar-a- Lago.

None think the threat of that night will pass anytime soon.

The World Students Society thanks Review Author, Dwight Garner.


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