Say what you will about a life of perfidy and misconduct, it’s fun to read about criminality. Devotees of true crime will insist that they’re there for the takedown, but really, who are they kidding? Without a proper buildup, that satisfying gotcha moment just doesn’t pop. If Ted Bundy doesn’t murder a bunch of innocent people, we won’t care when the police nab him. The misdeed is as important to the book’s readability as the sweet, sweet justice. This may explain why, midway through his chaotic first presidential term, we’ve got a thriving new genre based on books about Donald Trump.
I’m not going to discuss the degree to which these accounts are factual, because honestly, I have no idea. What I’d like to do is to count them and list them chronologically.
It would be nice if I could say, with perfect honesty, that this post is meant to highlight an unhealthy media obsession with a deeply troubled man who can’t help but hurt himself and the people around him for any amount of attention, good or bad. I’d love to be that deep and empathic.
It would also be lovely if I could somehow poignantly demonstrate that no educated body politic could derive meaningful information from this cacophony and respectfully debate whether the earnest efforts of journalists to provide critical information are noble or quixotic. I could even throw ex-administration authors into the picture as an example of how celebrity antics can make honest journalism seem foolish through association. That would probably be a very intellectual and interesting piece. I’d have citations. Maybe even an interview.
However, I am first and foremost a librarian. I like data and I don’t have enough about this bizarre new true crime/celebrity bio/political thriller genre to draw any real conclusions about it. For example, how many Trump books are there, excluding self-published works? At what rate are they hitting the shelves? How much would it cost to buy one copy of every title published since 2016? Until I know this esoterica, I must not only forbear from speculating about the genre’s qualities and future, but I must spend my livelong nights staring, red-eyed, at the ceiling, haunted. So let’s dive right into the good part: the numbers.
I found no less than 51 qualifying books about the Trump presidency, excluding self-published works. I’ll list them below in chronological order. Maybe you have a weird-ass reading list you’d like to add them to. Also, it’s entirely possible that I missed some, so please do comment about them if so. Heaven knows we need more of this nonsense. Check out the graph below if you’re more of a visual processor.
We’re getting new Trump books at an average rate of about 1.5 per month, if we start counting with The Truth About Trump from May 2016. However, 60% of the genre came out in 2018 alone. That’s 30 books in a 12-month period, or an average of 2.5 books per month. Publication clumped in the fall, likely because November was an election season. September of that year saw the debut of six Trump books; October generated five more. Expect the rate of Trump book publication to accelerate again as we approach the 2020 election.
Cory Lewandowsi, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, and David Cay Johnston have each written two Trump books. I’ve marked the 10 books authored by former campaign or administration employees with a triangle. Roger Stone’s second Trump book isn’t on the list because as of this writing, it hasn’t been published yet.
To give these numbers some context, I have found less than 10 books written about or by Barack Obama during his presidency and campaign. Two of those were by Obama himself. I have also found 16 Obama books that hit the shelves after Trump swore in. Some are laudatory and nostalgic, others are hostile. Many seem to be reactions to the Trump presidency one way or another. It may be useful, if demoralizing, to consider Obama books a genre variant on or offshoot of Trump books.
New hardcover copies of each Trump book cost between $25 and $30, but paperbacks, used copies, and price cuts of 50% or more abound. This suggests that the genre, whose material is entertaining but fairly narrow in scope, may be approaching some kind of market saturation. Eventually, perhaps there will be nothing more to say about the President’s competence or lack thereof. At that point, it’s unclear what will happen to this ballooning literary phenomenon. A bubble bust situation seems possible.
If you’ve bought and read a new copy of every single representative of the Trump genre over the past three years, then congratulations! You’ve spent about $1,305 on Trump books. Of course, if you’ve borrowed them from your public library, then they have spent about $1,305—maybe a little less with their library discount, maybe a little more if they’ve gone in for multiple copies of the most notable titles. That money came from you anyway, because you pay taxes. In that sense, if you’ve bought any Trump books with your own post-taxes income, you’ve kinda double-paid. Sorry, pal.
Preorders and Legacy Hits
However, judging from America’s recent surge in political nonfiction sales, you’re not alone in your desire to possess a book of Trump. Plenty of people are grabbing the hits right off the shelves and slapping down real money for them, which has elevated several onto the New York Times bestseller list. Buyers are also ordering them ahead. Woodward’s book alone topped 1 million presale units. I haven’t even attempted to count sales of legacy books by and about the president. Older titles concerning Trump have also benefitted from our current political drama. While these could be considered associated and possibly entangled with true Trump presidency books, they were written in a different context and never intended for the same informative purposes. Therefore, I have excluded them from the scope of my research.
So here’s the whole list of books about the Trump presidency, every one I could find published post–January 2016, arranged chronologically. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the positions these books take, and nor do I consider every single one a viable and reliable source. However, they are now an undeniable feature of the publishing landscape. For how long, who knows? When this administration passes, as it inevitably will, it will leave behind a historic trail of literary detritus. Let’s hope it’s doing somebody some good.
The Truth About Trump by Michael D’Antonio, May 2016
In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome! by Ann Coulter, August 2016
Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America by David Horowitz, January 2017
►The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution by Roger Stone, January 2017
How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution by Joel Pollak and Larry Schweikart, February 2017
Trump’s War: His Battle for America by Michael Savage, March 2017
►Understanding Trump by Newt Gingrich and Eric Trump, June 2017
The Swamp: Washington’s Murky Pool of Corruption and Cronyism and How Trump Can Drain It by Eric Bolling, June 2017
Rogue Spooks: The Intelligence War on Donald Trump by Dick Morris, August 2017
Trumped Up: How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy by Alan Dershowitz, August 2017
The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess A President by Bandy X. Lee, October 2017
All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump by Edward Klein, October 2017
God and Donald Trump by Stephen E. Strang, November 2017
Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House by Donna Brazile, November 2017
The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston, November 2017
Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win by Luke Harding, November 2017
►Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story Of His Rise To The Presidency by Cory Lewandowsi, December 2017
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff, January 2018
It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing To America by David Cay Johnston, January 2018
Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth by Howard Kurtz, January 2018
Killing the Deep State: The Fight To Save President Trump by Jerome Corsi, March 2018
Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by Michael Isikoff, March 2018
►A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey, April 2018
Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other by Conrad Black, May 2018
The Plot to Destroy Trump: How the Deep State Fabricated the Russian Dossier to Subvert the President by Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, May 2018
Trump’s America: The Truth about Our Nation’s Great Comeback by Newt Gingrich, June 2018
Born Trump: Inside America’s First Family by Emily Jane Fox, June 2018
The Case Against Impeaching Trump by Alan Derschowitz, July 2018
Leakers, Liars, and Liberals: the Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy by Jeanine Pirro, July 2018
►The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the President by Sean Spicer, July 2018
The Russia Hoax: the Illicit Scheme to Clear Hilary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump by Gregg Jarrett, July 2018
►Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House by Omarosa Manigault-Newman, August 2018
Everything Trump Touches Dies: a Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever by Rick Wilson, August 2018
Resistance Is Futile!: How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind by Ann Coulter, August 2018
Under Fire: Reporting From the Front Lines of the Trump White House by April Ryan, September 2018
Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward, September 2018
Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride: the Thrills, Chills, and Occasional Blackouts of an Extraordinary Presidency by Major Garrett, September 2018
The Deep State: How an Army of Bureaucrats Protected Barack Obama and Is Working to Destroy the Trump Agenda by Jason Chaffetz, September 2018
Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President by Justin A. Frank, September 2018
Full Disclosure by Stormy Daniels and Michal Avenatti, October 2018
The Apprentice: Trump, Russia, and the Subversion of American Democracy by Greg Miller, October 2018
Golden Handcuffs: the Secret History of Trump’s Women by Nina Burleigh, October 2018
Trumpocracy: the Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum, October 2018
Trumped!: The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump—His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall by John R. O’Donnell and James Rutherford, September 2018
►Trump, the Blue-Collar President by Anthony Scaramucci, October 2018
Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America by Seth Abramson, November 2018
The Case for Impeaching Trump by Elizabeth Holtzman, November 2018
►Trump’s Enemies: How the Deep State is Undermining the Presidency by Cory Lewandowski, November 2018
Mar-A-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace by Laurence Leamer, January 2019
►Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House by Cliff Sims, January 2019
►Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics by Chris Christie, January 2019