Book of the week: Peering inside the mind of Donald Trump

Cover of How Trump ThinksHow Trump Thinks: His Tweets and the Birth of a New Political Language
by Peter Oborne and Tom Roberts
Published by Head of Zeus, £10
(Buy at Amazon)

While Donald Trump owes his victory to many things, most notably popular frustration at stagnant wages and living standards, it’s safe to say that without Twitter he wouldn’t be in the White House today. His ability to communicate directly with voters, without spending huge amounts on advertising or winning over the media, provided that little push that got him over the line. So this book focusing on his tweets, by political journalist Peter Oborne and media historian Tom Roberts, should offer plenty of insight.

Sadly, Oborne and Roberts approach the task in a very literal way, reproducing every tweet, from Trump’s first piece of self-promotion in May 2009, to his attack on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s handling of the TV show Celebrity Apprentice eight years later. Although they provide commentary next to some of the tweets, others are reproduced verbatim with no explanation. In many cases the commentary just consists of a brief explanation of the various people that Trump mentions. The only attempt at some systematic analysis is right at the end when they show the frequency of terms that Trump uses.

This is a pity, because Oborne is capable of insightful analysis, as shown by his introduction, which compares Trump to other historical figures who use similar bluster and hyperbole to grab public attention and push dubious claims. Ultimately How Trump Thinks is just a novelty gift, but it could have been a lot more.