The power behind Trump's throne

Book review: Devil’s BargainJoshua Green examines Steve Bannon's role in supporting President Donald Trump.

Devil's Bargain:

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency

by Joshua GreenPublished by Penguin Press, £16.99(Buy at Amazon)

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

Almost every major politician has had a key adviser credited with being the "power behind the throne". For Margaret Thatcher, it was Bernard Ingham; for Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson; for George W Bush, Karl Rove. Joshua Green takes a look at Steve Bannon, the campaign manager and senior adviser behind Donald Trump's throne. He makes the case that Bannon's "transgressive instincts", as Bret Stephens puts it in The New York Times, and "seeming incapacity for moral and intellectual embarrassment", helped Trump defeat "the well-oiled if soulless machine that was Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign".

Green "vividly pulls back the curtain on the symbiotic relationship between two of America's most polarising figures", says Lloyd Green in The Guardian. Overall, "Bannon emerges as an iconoclast and would-be revolutionary", while Trump is portrayed as "the moneyed vandal from Queens who also expected to be seated at the best table at Manhattan's toniest restaurants".

Of the two, Bannon comes across as the more ideological. Indeed, "after Mitt Romney's defeat in 2012, Trump attacked the Republican nominee for having been too harsh on immigrants", says Edward Luce in the Financial Times. But having gorged himself on a diet of Breitbart News, the right-wing news site, Trump was soon "singing a different tune". Bannon, on the other hand, "never wavered in his convictions", which seem to be driven by "an apocalyptic foreboding about the fate of the West derived from almost two decades of manic reading".

Green "allows Bannon to tell much of the story himself" by quoting from extensive interviews. Still, Green is unable to quite prove that Bannon's insights were truly "the elixir for Trump's victory".

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri