”A brilliant, riveting, funny, terrifying journey into the beating heart of Trumpland.” —Liza Mundy, author of Code Girls
In this daring work of immersive journalism, based on hundreds of hours of reporting, Carl Hoffman journeys deep inside Donald Trump’s rallies, seeking to understand the strange and powerful tribe that forms the president’s base.
Hoffman, who has written about the most dangerous and remote corners of the world, pierced this alternate society, welcomed in and initiated into its rites and upside-down beliefs, and finally ushered to its inner sanctum. Equally freewheeling and profound, Liar’s Circus tracks the MAGA faithful across five thousand miles of the American heartland during a crucial arc of the Trump presidency stretching from the impeachment saga to the dawn of the coronavirus pandemic that ended the rallies as we know it.
Trump’s rallies are a singular and defining force in American history—a kind of Rosetta stone to understanding the Age of Trump. Yet while much remarked upon, they are, in fact, little examined, with the focus almost always on Trump’s latest outrageous statement. But who are the tens of thousands of people who fill these arenas? What do they see in Trump? And what curious alchemy—between president and adoring crowd—happens there that might explain Trump’s rise and powerful hold over both his base and the GOP?
To those on the left, the rallies are a Black Mass of American politics at which Trump plays high priest, recklessly summoning the darkest forces within the nation. To the MAGA faithful, the rallies are a form of pilgrimage, a joyous ceremony that like all rituals binds people together and makes them feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Both sides would acknowledge that this traveling roadshow is the pressurized, combustible core of Trump’s political power, a meeting of the faithful where Trump is unshackled and his rhetoric reaches its most extreme, with downstream consequences for the rest of the nation.
To date, no reporter has sought to understand the rallies as a sociological phenomenon examined from the bottom up. Hoffman has done just this. He has stood in line for more than 170 hours with Trump's most ardent superfans and joined them at the very front row; he has traveled from Minnesota to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Hampshire immersing himself in their culture.
Liar’s Circus is a revelatory portrait of Trump’s America, from one of our most intrepid journalists.