By Roger Stone 

363 pages, hardback 

PUBLISHED BY:  Skyhorse Publishing, 2017


Veteran Republican Party operative, Richard Nixon confidante, Ronald Reagan advisor and Donald Trump insider, Roger Stone mustn't sleep much. 

His epic and comprehensive chronicle of the harrowing/hilarious/disturbing/uplifting (take your pick) 2016 US election cycle was rushed into print just weeks after President Donald Trump's shock (to many - especially the mainstream media) victory. 

Inspired and roughly patterned after Theodore White's acclaimed 1961 retelling and analysis of the 1960 US election campaign that saw John F. Kennedy installed in the White House, “The Making of The President 2016” aims to update the template for our tumultuous and riven times. In some ways the antithesis of the contemporary sound-bite culture and hungry news cycle, the book calmly recounts each divisive step and mediated sensation in a clear chronological timeline. 

Infamous within political and media circles, Stone has led a storied and decades long career behind the scenes, only recently emerging as a card-carrying 'conspiracy theorist' and staple of heretical media channels like Alex Jones' InfoWars.  Author of a handful of provocative titles like “The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ”, ”Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family: The Inside Story of an American Dynasty and “The Clintons' War on Women”, Stone knows his target, pursues it with relentless zeal and is obviously unafraid of controversy. 

Though unflinchingly and unapologetically partisan, “The Making of The President 2016” is nevertheless oddly balanced, detailing candidate Trump's sometimes gaffes and missteps with a dry neutrality, and cataloguing the campaign’s improbable developments and many scandalous moments with the even, unhurried tone of a detached observer or dusty-halled researcher. 

Though Stone appears to consciously remove himself from the narrative as often as possible, the book's best and most striking moments come when he is injected squarely into the heart of the action - at one notable point accusing Hilary Clinton advisor and apparent "best gal-pal" Huma Abedin of being a barely concealed Saudi spy, reveling in allegations that GOP primary candidate Ted Cruz's father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, at another he discusses at length Bill Clinton's alleged black love-child Danney Williams and the marketing of his tale to the African-American community as an effective electoral strategy, and at yet another Stone proudly recounts his grass roots campaign to sell and place Bill Clinton 'Rape' t-shirts at as many media photo ops and Clinton public rallies as possible: going as far to offer a reward to people who can place themselves (wearing the 'Rape' t-shirt of course) in the background of the most compromising Clinton or media event. This kind of old-school hands-on political skullduggery will (most likely depending on one's political inclinations) prompt either guttural gasps of contempt or a knowing grin of begrudging admiration. 

Stone himself coined an unforgettably colorful phrase for these type of shenanigans and rodent-cunning provocations - 'ratf**king'. 

For those who followed the election closely, there are a few notable and surprising absences: though Stone delves into some of the Wikileaks revelations (mainly the question of DNC bias and primary rigging against candidate Bernie Sanders), he avoids any mention of the notorious 'Pizzagate' allegations (a profoundly dark insinuation of systemic elite child abuse/trafficking extrapolated from the leaked emails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and a synthesis of other sources). Also absent is any mention of the alleged 'Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine' of the firm Cambridge Analytics (a supposed behemoth of data analytics and subtle informational engineering employed exclusively by the victorious Trump campaign). Whether these omissions are strategy, modesty or allergy is unknown. 

First out-of-the-gate as a chronicle of what was perhaps the most divisive US election campaign in history, The Making of The President 2016 focuses on the potential reasons for Clinton's shock loss rather than on Trump the man, strategist, politician or the future path of his administration. That might be wise because despite the acres of print and bandwidth devoted to him, Trump oddly remains a mystery and his legacy a great unknown.

By David Thrussell