UW News

September 24, 2018

David Shields deconstructs the mind of President Donald Trump in latest book

UW News

Shields_trump_bookcoverDavid Shields calls his latest book, which investigates aims to deconstruct the mind of the current president of the United States, “a manual for beating bullies.”

Shields is a professor in the University of Washington Department of English and New York Times best-selling author. His 21st book, published Sept. 24 by Thought Catalog, is “Nobody Hates Trump More than Trump: An Intervention.”

The book, is “at once a psychological investigation of Trump, a philosophical meditation on the relationship between language and power,” publisher’s notes say. “And above all a dagger into the rhetoric of American political discourse — a dissection of the politese that gave rise to and sustains Trump.”

Asked in an interview posted by the publisher if he truly believes the title, Shields replied: “Yes, of course Trump loathes himself. No human being on the planet is less capable of joy or even fulfillment. This is a key connection between himself and his voters. He’s as unhappy as they are, or he’s very good at pretending he is — it’s very difficult to tell.”

Crucial to understanding Trump, he said, are “the five million people who voted for Obama and who voted for Trump. They are who matter. They are low-income, low-information, disenfranchised, blue-collar voters. They are furious at the varieties of ways in which the world has left them behind. Obama offered hope. Trump offered them rage. (Hillary Clinton) offered them precisely nothing.”

With store shelves full of Trump-bashing tomes, Shields said his book offers something different: “It offers a tragic take on human nature — Trump’s destructiveness and self-destructiveness echoing with an existentially lost populace.”

David Shields -- UW profesor of English and author of new book "Nobody Hates Trump More than Trump: An Intervention"

David Shields

Asked what talents Trump has that “tap into the American psyche,” Shields asked in response: “What such talents does he not have? He has swallowed America whole.”

In the last of the book’s six chapters, titled “Apocalypse Always,” Shields quotes Pogo, lead character in a long-running comic strip by cartoonist Walt Kelly, famously saying: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

In advance praise for the book, novelist and travel writer Jonathan Raban called the work “Shields’s most ‘accessible’ book and probably his best. Impossible to put down — a polyphonic bricolage that is both absolutely of this moment and deserving of a burial in a time capsule to be opened at another age.”

Novelist Bret Easton Ellis said he loved the book and agrees with “everything Shields nails about this moment. It’s the best summation of Trump I’ve ever come across. Such a relief to see someone get it.”

Other books by Shields include “Reality Hunger: A Manifesto” (2010), “War is Beautiful” (2015), “Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season” (1999) and the novels “Heroes” (1984) and “Dead Languages” (1989). His next book, titled “The Trouble with Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power,” will come out in 2019.

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For more information, contact Shields at dshields@davidshields.com.

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