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To understand the Trump White House, you need to understand Steve Bannon: what's driving him, what his true role is, and what he's trying to accomplish on behalf of the American middle class. White House reporter Keith Koffler penetrates the fog surrounding the mysterious senior White House advisor, tracing Bannon's wild and distinctly American path to the White House in To understand the Trump White House, you need to understand Steve Bannon: what's driving him, what his true role is, and what he's trying to accomplish on behalf of the American middle class. White House reporter Keith Koffler penetrates the fog surrounding the mysterious senior White House advisor, tracing Bannon's wild and distinctly American path to the White House in this first-ever honest biography of the controversial figure. Born to working-class Democrats in Virginia, Bannon has barrelled through the Navy, Harvard, Wall Street, and Hollywood; he is fluent in esoteric philosophies and political theories; and he has diagnosed the problem with today's America---the rot that has eaten away at working Americans' hopes, opportunities, and freedoms---and developed a winning strategy for taking America back. With inside information on Bannon's current White House projects and his relationships with other figures in the Trump orbit---and with President Trump himself---Bannon: Trump's Rebel in the White House is not only a three-dimensional guide to one of the most fascinating figures of modern American history; it's also a guide to understanding the Trump administration's plans for our future.


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To understand the Trump White House, you need to understand Steve Bannon: what's driving him, what his true role is, and what he's trying to accomplish on behalf of the American middle class. White House reporter Keith Koffler penetrates the fog surrounding the mysterious senior White House advisor, tracing Bannon's wild and distinctly American path to the White House in To understand the Trump White House, you need to understand Steve Bannon: what's driving him, what his true role is, and what he's trying to accomplish on behalf of the American middle class. White House reporter Keith Koffler penetrates the fog surrounding the mysterious senior White House advisor, tracing Bannon's wild and distinctly American path to the White House in this first-ever honest biography of the controversial figure. Born to working-class Democrats in Virginia, Bannon has barrelled through the Navy, Harvard, Wall Street, and Hollywood; he is fluent in esoteric philosophies and political theories; and he has diagnosed the problem with today's America---the rot that has eaten away at working Americans' hopes, opportunities, and freedoms---and developed a winning strategy for taking America back. With inside information on Bannon's current White House projects and his relationships with other figures in the Trump orbit---and with President Trump himself---Bannon: Trump's Rebel in the White House is not only a three-dimensional guide to one of the most fascinating figures of modern American history; it's also a guide to understanding the Trump administration's plans for our future.

30 review for Bannon: Trump's Rebel in the White House

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alex Nelson

    This is more a hiogiography than a biography, Koffler is more an apologist than investigator. Consequently, Bannon is seen as Boswell views "that most illustrious life" of Johnson. (Koffler names a few reviewers of Bannon's "films" and harshly criticizes the reviewers, which betrays Koffler's bias.) The arrangement of material is a difficult task with someone like Bannon, who clearly goes through very distinct periods of life and changes his beliefs on many things (as we all do). Although a This is more a hiogiography than a biography, Koffler is more an apologist than investigator. Consequently, Bannon is seen as Boswell views "that most illustrious life" of Johnson. (Koffler names a few reviewers of Bannon's "films" and harshly criticizes the reviewers, which betrays Koffler's bias.) The arrangement of material is a difficult task with someone like Bannon, who clearly goes through very distinct periods of life and changes his beliefs on many things (as we all do). Although a chronological ordering might seem best, it fails to capture the change over time when there is much change (as is the case with Bannon). The other obvious approach, which Koffler takes after the first couple chapters, is to organize material around concepts. This only works if the author can adequately present the changes, influences, and events which impact the subject...which Koffler does not do satisfactorily, for whatever reason. Some of it is beyond his control (e.g., the relationship between Andrew Breitbart and Steve Bannon cannot be adequately explored because Breitbart is dead, and it is unlikely there is an extensive written record of the two interacting), other is apparently lazy research (e.g., Bannon's naval career is unsatisfactorily discussed, the whole Karachi debacle untouched, Koffler takes Bannon at Bannon's word far too often for comfort, etc.). Despite dedicating an entire chapter to Bannon's "Generation Zero" and the impact Strauss & Howe had on Bannon's worldview, there's something lackluster about summarizing Bannon's worldview in the single phrase "Bannon had long been convinced that history moves in cycles, ...". Yes, he probably acquired that opinion after reading Arnold Toynbee, the historian he quoted so frequently while at University his college room mates still remember it. (Bannon also spoke on the college radio and dedicated the Grateful Dead's "Unbroken Chain" to Toynbee soon after the historian passed away.) It's hard to explain how Koffler missed this, without suggesting inadequate research. More apologetics come when Koffler suggests, erroneously, that "The egalitarian-minded Boomers demanded that bankers lend money to minorities and other 'oppressed' groups to buy houses, regardless of their ability to afford a house." Very rudimentary research would have confirmed this is not the case, which leads one to wonder why is this even in here? Sadly inexcusable errors like these raise the thought, if the author gets these very-easily-researched-issues wrong, how can the author handle thornier issues and apparent inconsistencies in Bannon's life? There is some new, presumably factual, information given in this book, e.g., Bannon's (apparent) alcoholism in the early '90s, or more touchingly Bannon as a father. But even here, there's clear issue with Koffler's handling of materials, glossing over Bannon's abusing his second wife as evidenced by the police report and attempting to undermine the notion there ever was abuse by dismissing the second wife as someone who didn't appear in court (Koffler neglects to mention the second wife did not appear because Bannon's lawyer threatened her). But probably what is more useful is the presentation of the semi-coherent reinvented past Bannon has told Koffler, which conveniently leaves out a lot of blemishes. The style leaves much to be desired. It seems to be written below a sixth grade reading level (the Hobbit is more sophisticated). I'm always worried when I read a book, and realize "This sentence is poorly phrased" or "The paragraph could be organized better." I'm a mathematician, not a "literary feller". On the whole, it's not worth the price it's currently being sold at. I wouldn't recommend buying it for less than $5, and once you read it...you won't really need or want to re-read it. So, y'know, the public library is a good place to check it out. Don't buy it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Byrne

    This book would work better as an edited interview than as a biography. As it is, it’s basically the same background info that’s already available, plus some interview quotes, plus some awkwardly fawning narrative commentary. It’s okay to write a biography of someone you really admire, but that doesn’t really work for a biography of a bomb-thrower. The whole point of the pugilistic style is to make an extreme enough claim that you provoke an argument; just agreeing with everything is actually This book would work better as an edited interview than as a biography. As it is, it’s basically the same background info that’s already available, plus some interview quotes, plus some awkwardly fawning narrative commentary. It’s okay to write a biography of someone you really admire, but that doesn’t really work for a biography of a bomb-thrower. The whole point of the pugilistic style is to make an extreme enough claim that you provoke an argument; just agreeing with everything is actually rude. It’s like playing a poker game, folding every single hand, and congratulating your opponent on his flawless game. Sad! What the world needs is a Bannon biography from someone who totally disagrees with him and makes no pretense towards neutrality. Probably a #nevertrump-er

  3. 4 out of 5

    Plusilikefrogs

    Embarrassingly sycophantic. Was less informative about who Bannon is, and more about who Bannon thinks he is (someone should tell Scarramucci that he was wrong, Keith Koffler is obviously helping Bannon stroke his “ego”). If you’re interested in pro-Bannon propaganda — several points in this book are contradicted by his own statements elsewhere — go for it, but all this will have served me is with the ability to say I’ve read it to Brietbart fanboys ... yay. Tl;dr — I was prepared to stare at Embarrassingly sycophantic. Was less informative about who Bannon is, and more about who Bannon thinks he is (someone should tell Scarramucci that he was wrong, Keith Koffler is obviously helping Bannon stroke his “ego”). If you’re interested in pro-Bannon propaganda — several points in this book are contradicted by his own statements elsewhere — go for it, but all this will have served me is with the ability to say I’ve read it to Brietbart fanboys ... yay. Tl;dr — I was prepared to stare at this yawning abyss and the only thing that yawned was me

  4. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Blosser

    Reading Koffler's Bannon: Always the Rebel -- some things do much to explain the Bannon of today. Discovering, for example, that he was schooled in an all-male Catholic military academy, Benedictine High School; that he gave up a lucrative job with Philip Morris right out of college to join and serve seven years in the Navy; that he forsook and rejected the radical turn of the Democratic Party during the 60's and 70's to embrace the conservative revolution of Ronald Reagan and had a stint as a Reading Koffler's Bannon: Always the Rebel -- some things do much to explain the Bannon of today. Discovering, for example, that he was schooled in an all-male Catholic military academy, Benedictine High School; that he gave up a lucrative job with Philip Morris right out of college to join and serve seven years in the Navy; that he forsook and rejected the radical turn of the Democratic Party during the 60's and 70's to embrace the conservative revolution of Ronald Reagan and had a stint as a promising and successful conservative documentary filmmaker. The book carries a number of surprises as well: -- that he grew up in a old-school pious and patriotic Democrat family "“wild about Jack Kennedy, more so than most Richmond Catholics,"; -- that he was opposed to the Vietnam War; -- his loathing for the objectivist libertarianism of Ayn Rand ("the thing that turned me off and reinforced my belief in the working people [was reading Ayn Rand]"); -- the admirable force of will on his part to quit drinking cold turkey one night when he realized it had become too much of an impediment; Most of all I was struck by his (by all appearances) genuine religiosity, citing among the six books that are most important to him Ross Fuller's The Brotherhood of the Common Life and Its Influence , Thomas a Kempis' target=_blank>The Imitation of Christ and The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola -- whose "examen" he practices daily and assisted in his quitting the bottle. For those curious bibliophiles, the other three books are Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ; Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Christopher Lasch's The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy . In what I found to be the most interesting part of this book, Bannon, via interviews with Koffler, goes into detail as to why each of these are important and have informed his present worldview). Chapters 8 through 10 in particular do a decent job of conveying what exactly drives Stephen Bannon philosophically and ideologically -- hint, contra the popular depiction and/or demonization, it's not "racism" but rather a principled patriotism and a concern for the working man (as opposed to the wealthy "elites"). Oddly, I strongly suspect if you shared any number of Bannon's more reflective comments on the state of society -- the plight of the middle class, the corrupt and morally-ambivalent state of the "too big to fail" banks on Wall Street and sheer abnegation of responsibility and morality that precipitated the 2008 economic collapse -- without disclosing their source, he would have the sympathetic ear and support of the "99 percenter" movement. Indeed, what Koffler also lays out is how Bannon's concern of the middle class falls into line with his desire to reinstate American "economic nationalism": “For much of American history, essentially through World War II, the United States followed what today might be dismissed as a “protectionist” trade program, starting with America’s two most distinguished protectionists, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. Under the American System, the United States sought to protect its industries from overseas competition, particularly when it came to manufacturing. Moreover, protectionism was Republican orthodoxy. It was Democrats, especially Southern Democrats, who wanted free trade, so that they could better export cotton and other agricultural products, and import lower cost (if there were lower tariffs) foreign manufactured goods. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, signed two tariff bills during the Civil War, and protectionism remained standard Republican policy through Herbert Hoover. [...] "American economic nationalism is the birthright of, intellectually, not just conservatives, but the nation—from Alexander Hamilton to Jackson, Clay, Polk, Lincoln, all the way up to Teddy Roosevelt,” Bannon said. “The American System is laid out by Henry Clay. And by the way, they said that the most radical idea, as bad as anything that came out of the French Revolution, was free trade. The American System -- the first Trump guys were Hamilton, Jackson, Clay, Polk, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. A group of people that believed in American economic nationalism." At the same time, Koffler gives some recognition to his flaws (his fiery temper, for one) while doing away with some of the sketchier rumors surrounding him (ex. the New York Times' histrionic fit over Bannon's making a reference to "deeply taboo, Nazi-affiliated thinker, Julius Evola", or what I think the author proves to be demonstrably specious claims of racism, anti-semitism or anti-Muslim. Consider:“The people that go after Islam qua Islam — it’s not Islam as a faith” that is the problem, Bannon asserted. “If you study Sufism [as Bannon has done], and particularly the eternal struggle that Islam calls for, I think that’s fine. It’s a path to enlightenment or a path to God…just like Judaism’s got its path, just like Christianity’s got its path. It’s not for anybody to determine what path an individual takes.” The path represents an “individuals’ understanding that the interior practice of the presence of God is the one thing that will separate…their [interior] life from exterior life. Everybody has to come to that through their own work.” In that regard, “Islam, in fact, has a very powerful tradition,” he said. “One of the reasons for Jihad is that inner work on oneself,” Bannon said, referring to the concept of an individual’s internal struggle, not a rationale for attacking nonbelievers." Of course, to recognize Bannon's (in some ways) laudable concerns is not to suggest that the reader feel compelled to agree with his functional political strategizing. For example, in Koffler's account of Bannon's taking over Breitbart.com and indulging the whims of Milo Yiannopolous, he actually comes across as being rather naive about the alt-right ("The alt right, when it began, with Milo, at least I saw it, was just young, kind of almost libertarians, that were radical, you know, almost like patriots. These guys were the guys that kind of came from the chat boards, etc. And I said, they’re going to be an amazing innovative force”) -- reluctant to take notice of its more seedier, devious and problematic elements (see Angela Nagel's Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump And The Alt-Right) and dismissing it outright ("All that [racist] crap gets burned out over time"). Nor in the final chapters of the book did I find myself able to comprehend Bannon's enthusiasm for and early political investment in the Tea Party and Sarah Palin (see John Heilemann's Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime) -- or his admiration for Donald Trump ("There’s a phrase I’m going to use that will shock you, that you never thought anybody would put together: Donald Trump and moral courage. I have never seen someone I admire more than Trump"). What is particularly baffling is how Bannon is portrayed by the author (and in many ways portrays himself in interviews) as being on the side of the worker and critical of the financial elites solely intent on making a profit, yet seems completely oblivious not only to Trump's history of shady and unethical business practices, but also the myriad ways in which Trump is exploiting his presidency for personal gain, for himself as well as his family. The sheer absence of any acknowledgement of this on the part of Bannon is striking. All in all, I found Bannon: Always the Rebel interesting reading, especially if one has any interest in learning about Stephen Bannon the man -- as opposed to, say, Bannon as portrayed by the media and his critics.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Donald White

    Very enlightening material. I would recommend this to my liberal friends and relatives, but it is too real for understanding in narrow socialistic views.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gary Moreau

    I guess I need to change up my newsfeeds. I really didn’t want to read this book and, in retrospect, I didn’t want to for all the wrong reasons. I had taken the bait. I had taken at face value the portrayal of Steve Bannon as ogre-supreme. According to this account, he is a bit raw, speaks his mind, and can come of as more than a bit opinionated. Not the kind of personality I would normally like to spend a lot of time with. But he seems to come by it honestly, if by honest you mean that he is I guess I need to change up my newsfeeds. I really didn’t want to read this book and, in retrospect, I didn’t want to for all the wrong reasons. I had taken the bait. I had taken at face value the portrayal of Steve Bannon as ogre-supreme. According to this account, he is a bit raw, speaks his mind, and can come of as more than a bit opinionated. Not the kind of personality I would normally like to spend a lot of time with. But he seems to come by it honestly, if by honest you mean that he is well informed and genuine in his convictions. That doesn’t make him right, but it does mean he should be allowed to speak, which not all in the media seem to agree with. The book does offer some informative context on the Tea Party and the Trump victory. And I think the explanations ring fairly true, at least here in the traditionally blue Midwest that tilted the Electoral College in a new and unexpected way and put Trump in office. He didn’t sell me on the Trump agenda or the Bannon dream, if you will, and the reason is the same reason no one in the blue party has yet convinced me that we have it right, either. What Bannon offers is a digital, all or nothing, agenda. And that, to me, is the problem with every national politician today. I do believe that the working people in the US have been left behind and that what Bannon calls the corporate and Washington elite, the former of which I was a member of at a modest level for a long time, have been given – or allowed to take – too much power and to use it selfishly. I don’t, however, share his conviction that American culture is or should be an evangelical Christian culture. (I am neither atheist nor agnostic.) Those trade-offs are just too simple. This book is sure to polarize readers just as Donna Brazile’s book, which I liked very much, and Hillary Clinton’s book, which I haven’t and don’t plan to read, did before it. That doesn’t mean that we have to align at the poles, however. That doesn’t mean we all have to be “moderates,” either. I am not. I am a socialist and would readily admit that if Lenin hadn’t completely darkened the ideology, Marx had some reasonably good ideas. Nor do I think most Americans want to be “in the middle,” as the media dismissively refers to those of us not beating the drums of cultural and ideological war. I don’t believe we should pursue an agenda that excludes anyone, whatever economic class, educational background, ethnic or racial background, sexual orientation, or cultural alignment they represent. What it means to be American, in my mind, is first and foremost to believe in the principle of fair play for everyone. In the end, I think this is probably a book we should all read. That’s what getting informed, which all citizens of a true democracy have an obligation to do, is all about.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert Miller

    The author, Keith Koffler, states in his introduction to the book that his goal is to “demystify Stephen Bannon, to separate the real man from the caricatures, and to explain his brand of conservative populism.” He categorically states that “Western civilization today is under siege," in Bannon’s view, "from within and without.” Bannon is best known for his contributions to the Trump campaign, especially where his appeal zoomed in on the populist movement. But he is an intellectual and successful The author, Keith Koffler, states in his introduction to the book that his goal is to “demystify Stephen Bannon, to separate the real man from the caricatures, and to explain his brand of conservative populism.” He categorically states that “Western civilization today is under siege," in Bannon’s view, "from within and without.” Bannon is best known for his contributions to the Trump campaign, especially where his appeal zoomed in on the populist movement. But he is an intellectual and successful businessman. After four years at a Catholic military academy, he enrolled at Virginia Tech to study architecture. When he graduated, he joined the Navy and then enlisted in the Harvard Business School in 1983. In one acquisition he purchased the royalty rights to some TV shows—in a fluke, he acquired the royalties to Seinfeld. These days Bannon believes in making money and faults the banks and other cash brokers, not because of their profits, but because of their abnegation of responsibility to the people who had entrusted them with their hard-earned cash. The elites are placing their interests first and screwing the poor and middle-class. If things get too bad, the affluent wait for a bailout which is a form of socialism for the rich, Bannon opines. Bannon thinks “the left is distracted with its protests and its fear-mongering and its hatred of Trump that it is missing where Trump is quietly advancing his policies." Bannon lays claim to “laying the groundwork” for Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change accords. Koffler probably gives Bannon too much credit for his work at the Whitehouse. Afterall, he was no friend of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner—they thought he was a bit radical. Moreover, applying hindsight, Banner was not that loyal to Trump.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

    At a certain point, every politician aspiring to run for higher office (usually a head of state position) either writes a biography (read: has it ghostwritten) or has a book written about them. These books are generally easy to read and serve as presentable summaries of their respective platforms. This book is essentially Bannon's platform in simple form. No real surprises here. Nothing you couldn't find out from reading print articles elsewhere.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Decent book. I learned more about Steve Bannon, but this definitely reads like an extended profile piece by a superfan. Koffler spends the entire book extolling the virtues of Bannon, but never really exams any flaws in the character of the man; only superficial criticisms. However, I'd recommend the book for a quick read and good background on Bannon.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ana Smith

    BATR732ehd A very interesting way to get to understand the idiosyncrasy of a rather enigmatic political figure that prefers to be behind the scene... Still there are aspects of his persona that are not easy to follow. Amazing wide spectrum experience.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Allen DeGrange

    I liked it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  13. 4 out of 5

    Loelle Forrester

  14. 5 out of 5

    Missy Caulk

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Quah

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel A. Ramirez

  18. 4 out of 5

    iMostlyAudiobook

  19. 5 out of 5

    Steve Jackson

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robert A.

  21. 4 out of 5

    wife

  22. 5 out of 5

    L

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mauro Guarinieri

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joan Charles

  25. 5 out of 5

    Larry Orr

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Sullivan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beverly June Davis

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  30. 4 out of 5

    Frank Holappa

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