There are going to be many reviews of this book. Let me start by giving you something you aren’t going to get from any others.
The publisher of Cohen’s book is Skyhorse Publishing, and that was the first thing I noticed. Skyhorse produces and distributes well-constructed, well-edited books, and they do so for some of the most disreputable and conspiratorial people around. As an easy example, they’re the ones who produced the anti-Jeb Bush book by Roger Stone. While they chase respectability through imprints like Night Shade Books, the Skyhorse brand is likely distinguished by the quality of the lawyers they have on staff to protect them. Skyhorse has, with their choice of titles, been a fairly consistent supporter of Trump for the last four years. Their willingness to publish Cohen’s book marks a loss for nationalists and conspiracymongers alike.
There. That’s the unique part of this review (because professional reviewers don’t talk about publishers for fear of getting cut out of the free books they get, and most amateurs don’t pay attention to the publishing side of things.) Now to the rest of it…
First, I credit Cohen. He suggests early into his book that he will provide unique insight into Trump. He doesn’t quite fulfill that promise for me, but he did end some speculation I’d had toward Trump’s motivations and cemented some of my suspicions. The book goes well beyond “not pulling punches” and focuses on exposing key failures and deceptions of Trump.
Cohen does not attempt to paint himself as the hero in this book. Even as he repeatedly condemns himself for so easily giving up on the morality he attempted to instill in his children, he admits an admiration for organized crime figures dating back to his teen years. His early exposure to such people presented a false image of a maverick code which he adored, even after coming to recognize it as nothing more than an excuse to pursue the twin goals of wealth and power. This is a theme which recurs throughout the pages of Disloyal, and serves to illustrate his regular comparisons og the Trump organization to a crime family.
A variety of anecdotes are present in the book, and in this I again credit Cohen. Typically, in any book like this, there are a small handful of key revelatory events and the rest is filler serving to establish credibility for the author or providing context for the revelations. In this case, there are so many noteworthy moments that they cannot be properly excerpted; instead, people who wish to examine the Trump views and responses to various topics will often be able to find an anecdote or comment which addresses that point. Disloyal is a gold mine.
To some extent, it is a played out mine. For people who have been following the President closely, many of the issues Cohen discusses are already well known, and in greater detail than is presented. Even then, reflections from inside Trump’s inner circle are mildly instructive.
The technical quality of the writing is satisfactory – whether that’s because of his experience as a lawyer or due to the efforts of the Skyhorse editing staff, I do not know, but the result is a book which is accessible for casual reading.
If there’s one significant criticism I have, it’s the price. At $32.50, it’s an expensive book… and the 300+ pages have a large font size and a slightly wide gap between typeset line. The book could have probably been produced for about $5 less, but that’s a minor quibble.
The book melds well with Mary Trump’s recent book and Woodward’s Fear to provide a compelling arc of the current President. From early days through his time in the White House, through the eyes of his relatives, his personal lawyer, and various staffers, Trump is exposed and explained. We are left with a comprehensive look at a petty, ignorant, amoral and abusive manchild who craves attention as a measure of power.