The Forgotten by Ben Bradlee Jr.
Published by Little, Brown, 282 pages, $28
For people in the Land of the Blue and the Home of the Horrified, it was shocking to see some people in Pennsylvania’s rural Luzerne County embrace and elect Trump two years ago. In his new book, The Forgotten: How the People of One Pennsylvania County Elected Donald Trump and Changed America, Ben Bradlee Jr., a longtime Boston Globe editor and writer, interviews Luzerne residents who reveal their views. Some working-class and middle-class locals previously voted for Obama, but fear for their jobs and worries about immigrants flipped them.
One veteran blames President Obama for the rise of the Islamic State, and Hillary Clinton is given the usual curt dismissal. These Trump voters, each in a mini-chapter, give their life stories and opinions, candidly showing their political positions. They’re often praising Trump loudly, but sometimes acknowledge a pinch of displeasure with his outrageous behavior: His “both sides” Charlottesville comments, hiding his taxes, misogyny, crass tweeting, etc. One married couple, Jessica and Ray, offer their polarized views. God, she says, told her to vote for Trump. Ray’s negative impression of the president sounds refreshingly familiar. A grandson writes letters to his Republican grandmother that detail his anti-Trump thoughts in blazing language.
Many of those interviewed are happy about the recent Supreme Court appointments, restricting abortion rights and attacking Obamacare. Bradlee calls this “retro-tribalism,” and with his thorough reporting, he sheds some light on the members of this powerful tribe.
From Page 113: “ ‘You are in NRA country here. People have been hunting with their grandfathers and great-grandfathers for generations. I think those traditions would have been threatened if the other side had won. They wanted an Australian-type gun ban. They could have done a lot of damage with executive orders and a new Supreme Court. They were chipping away. The “disarm America” people are not done.’ ” ◆