“Stephen Miller is one of the most influential advisors in the White House. He has crafted Donald Trump’s speeches, designed immigration policies that ban Muslims and separate families, and outlasted such Trump stalwarts as Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions. But he’s remained an enigma.
Until now. Emmy- and PEN-winning investigative journalist and author Jean Guerrero charts the thirty-four-year-old’s astonishing rise to power, drawing from more than one hundred interviews with his family, friends, adversaries and government officials, as well as years of reporting from the U.S. border.
Radicalized during a rocky period in his youth, Miller relished provocation at his high school in liberal Santa Monica, California. He clashed with administrators and dark-skinned classmates over his invectives against bilingualism and multiculturalism. At Duke University, he cloaked racist and classist ideas in the language of patriotism and heritage to get them airtime amid controversies. On Capitol Hill, he served Tea Party congresswoman Michele Bachmann and old-school Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.
Recruited by Bannon, Miller met his idol: Donald Trump. Having dreamed of his presidency before Trump even announced his decision to run, Miller became his senior policy advisor and speechwriter. Together, they stoked dystopian fears about the Democrats, “Deep State” and “American Carnage” –– apocalyptic visions of migrants and their supporters as an existential threat to America. Through backroom machinations and sheer force of will, Miller survived dozens of resignations and encouraged Trump’s harshest impulses, in conflict with the president’s own family. While Trump railed against illegal immigration, Miller crusaded against legal immigration. He slashed refugee admissions to record lows, obliterated asylum and reduced green card access. Miller rallied support for this agenda, even as it triggered humanitarian crises and legal battles, by courting the rage that found expression in tragedies from El Paso to Charlottesville.
Hatemonger unveils the man driving some of the most divisive confrontations over what America means––and what it will become.”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
I don’t read a lot of non-fiction and certainly not many political non-fiction books, but I decided to read this one because I am a fan of the journalist, Jean Guerrero, author of Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir and I enjoy her writing style.
For myself, and I assume this is the case with many others, I have to limit my news intake to small doses. This time of year it’s especially hard to do that. But I wanted to read this book to continue to educate myself. I think there is something to be said for looking back in time to analyze certain events in history. Although we are still very much in the middle of the current crises, I think it’s worthwhile to continue to connect the dots and learn about public figures in power.
Since the book is a biography, there isn’t really anything to rate or review because this is not a fictional story. As with any memoir or biography, I certainly can’t rate someone’s life on a scale of one to five stars.
What I will say is that this book is extremely well-researched and captivating, with a narrative that kept me reading more. Stephen Miller’s life is examined from beginning until present, and the pivotal moments in his childhood, early adolescence, and college years are shown to further shed light on how he became the person that he is.
There weren’t many surprises; for a person like this, his background was predictable to me. At the same time, it was frankly scary to see how someone could become radicalized, and scarier still to think of all the other people who are currently under the same influence. I suspect that there are many other “Stephen Millers” out there, and that’s why I think it’s worthwhile to take the time to understand someone like him. I think this book will be a crucial resource in the future.
I will definitely read the future reporting done by Jean Guerrero, and any other books she writes.
Goodreads rating: Five stars (for writing style, and overall reading experience)