The List, by Amy Siskind
A Week by Week Reckoning of Trump's First Year
The analogy of our current political situation to the “Frog In the Pot of Water” has been used numerous times since summer 2016. (If a frog is suddenly put into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put into a pot of tepid water that is slowly heated until it boils, the frog will not comprehend the danger and will be cooked to death.) Amy Siskind, recalling articles she read by historians about tactics used by autocrats and authoritarianism, has written The List which endeavors to document the drip, drip, drip of the erosion of truth during Trump’s first year in office. The format of this book is to provide bullet point facts for fifty-two weeks and it becomes impossible to read for extended periods without feeling the need to refresh and refocus the mind. Her instincts were correct - it was sobering to realize that there has absolutely been a numbing of reactions in this political bizarro-world. Pre-Trump, practices such as (business entanglement) conflicts of interest, nepotism, excluding and denigrating a free press from non - “staged” events, would have been shocking. Some entries are almost comical; Week 14 - Trump picked longtime friend Patrick Park for the post of ambassador to Austria, saying Park is a big fan of The Sound of Music. (This was repugnant to me both as a fan of The Sound of Music and an American.) All kidding aside, the sheer volume of documented examples of disregard of norms, incitement of hatred, illegal and unethical practices and lies make this an uncomfortable but important book; a historical record of these strange times. The water is getting pretty hot.
Review by Sarah Ehrenson