Book Review: In Trump Time: A Journal of America’s Plague Year
Peter Navarro. All Seasons Press. $28.00
Dr. Peter Navarro has remained a staple of daily news since he released his latest book, In Trump Time, in early November, but not for the typical reasons that keep political memoirists in the limelight. Last week, he was excoriated for failing to share documents with the members of the House’s COVID probe. This week, Newsweek reported a secondhand comment Navarro made that Steve Bannon, his co-host on The War Room podcast, was the hero of January 6—the only item in the mainstream press thus far to even mention the book’s release. Cable news outlets that fawned over Chris Christie’s junket to promote his failure of a new book have given Navarro the cold shoulder. In Trump Time has remained a bestseller on Amazon and even made an appearance on USA Today’s bestseller list, but The New York Times has ignored its performance despite that it sold more than three times the copies as many of the titles on its list. In pointing out the book’s curious treatment, one, of course, runs the risk of acquiring the label of conspiracy theorist. After all, Navarro’s primary impetus for writing the book is to provide a thoroughly researched insider’s account of the Trump White House in 2020 that challenges the prevailing narratives of COVID’s origins, election fraud, and the January 6th siege of the Capital, a goal he achieves as only a Harvard economics Ph.D. with a specialty in China trade policy could.
A year ago, Navarro had a pedigree as a tenured academic and one of the few Trump officials who earned kudos in elite publications like Esquire and The Atlantic for his work directing the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy and handling the administration’s initial COVID response. In the wake of Trump’s election defeat, Navarro could have pulled a Larry Kudlow or Betsy DeVos, distancing himself from the boss in the hopes of landing a cushy consulting gig or six-figure book deal. Instead, he doubled down, releasing the three part Navarro Report on election irregularities and ratcheting up his association with the now-in-contempt-of-Congress Bannon as the two cast doubts on the events of the Capital siege. Consequently, what’s most refreshing about In Trump Time (named both for the era and Trump’s knack for efficiency) is the urgency Navarro places on crafting an impeccable counternarrative to the prevailing thinking about the events of the past 21 months. Substituting the humble braggery of most political memoirs with sound argument and substantial evidence, In Trump Time assures Navarro will remain in exile from the DC Bubble, making it all the braver.
Though he structures the book as a journal of a plague year (a nod to Daniel Defoe’s 1722 work of the same name that betrays Navarro’s time as an English major), the author painstakingly crafts the central thesis that Trump’s deference to the Republican establishment as he staffed the administration undercut the MAGA agenda. This fatal decision also indirectly led to the three primary claims Navarro spends the book proving:
- Dr. Anthony Fauci underhandedly funneled taxpayer dollars to fund gain-of-function research in Wuhan that caused the COVID lab leak
- Jared Kushner and Trump campaign managers Bill Stepien and Justin Clark not only knew about potential election fraud but also went out of their way to hinder Rudy Giuliani’s legal strategy to save face
- Intelligence agencies were likely responsible for January 6th as Navarro along with Trump and Bannon had counted on a peaceful “Hail Mary” operation they deemed “The Green Bay Sweep” to send election results back to six swing states for investigation.
In lesser hands, In Trump Time could have come off as a dry collection of claims more akin to a position paper. However, Navarro has a penchant for placing his audience directly in the thick of some of 2020’s most juicy backroom moments. An early chapter recalls a tense meeting with Fauci over the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine that ends with Navarro slamming reams of studies in front of America’s sage and asking him if he planned to kill more people this time around than he did in the early days of AIDS. Readers also get damning portraits of Trump officials who engage in a series of backstabbing behavior from Kushner’s ordering of Chinese PPE behind his father-in-law’s back to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin supporting invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office after January 6. Though the book serves as a salve for those who doubt the legitimacy of the Biden Regime, it also comes off as a cogent and well-sourced analysis of 2020 that Trump’s fiercest critics could benefit from reading as their policies and ideology threaten to turn Navarro’s plague year into a decade.