REVIEW: The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics – Forward Observer Shop

REVIEW: The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics

The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics 
Salena Zito and Brad Todd
320 ppg., Crown Forum (May 2018). $26.00

Last month, I finally finished reading The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics. I give it 4/5 stars for an entertaining read.

We know the short list of reasons why Donald J. Trump beat Hillary Clinton. By now, most of us are at least generally aware, but I didn’t truly understand until I read this book. If you want to get past the “Trump convinced blue collar whites” reasoning, and into an understanding of who these people are — and learn, for instance, why two-time Obama voters broke ranks to vote for Trump — then you’ll find what you’re looking for in this book.

To be honest, at first I didn’t enjoy learning about the back stories of the people interviewed, but after a while I found their stories interesting. And that’s exactly what Salena Zito and Brad Todd do here: they go to the deepest parts of the rust belt and identify the deepest thoughts and desires of voters who elected Donald Trump: teachers, business owners, farmers, and factory workers.

One thing I learned from this book is just how many voters, even Democratic voters, didn’t like Trump but ended up voting for him, anyway. For some Republicans, Trump wasn’t their first choice during the primaries. For some Democrats, they’d intended to vote for Clinton, but changed their minds at seemingly the last moment. Even some parents of Trump voters, who had been lifelong Democrats, ended up voting for Trump.

The authors sift through data about the history of voting patterns in these rust belt Trump counties. Democratic stronghold counties, which have voted for democrat presidents for decades, were flipped for Trump. Why? In short, because voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, and other states saw their communities devastated by globalization and the crusade against natural resources. They saw that jobs were being exported abroad. And they saw a continuation of the same policies under a Hillary Clinton administration. They didn’t like it, and they rejected it even if they weren’t the biggest Donald Trump fans. But they believed Trump when he said that he was going to “Make America Great Again” and bring back jobs — something that Clinton didn’t promise.

If you want to understand these rust belt Trump voters through their own words, then you’ll find that understanding in this book. It’s nothing ground-breaking or earth-shattering, but I came away with a much deeper understanding of who these people were and what changed their minds to switch parties for America.

If you’re looking for a weekend read and want better clarity on exactly what went right for Trump in the Rust Belt, then I can definitely recommend this book.

Always Out Front,

Samuel Culper



Mike Shelby is a former military intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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