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Audience of One: Book summary and reviews of Audience of One by James Poniewozik

Audience of One

Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America

by James Poniewozik

Audience of One by James Poniewozik X
Audience of One by James Poniewozik
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Book Summary

An incisive cultural history that captures a fractious nation through the prism of television and the rattled mind of a celebrity president.

Television has entertained America, television has ensorcelled America, and with the election of Donald J. Trump, television has conquered America. In Audience of One, New York Times chief television critic James Poniewozik traces the history of TV and mass media from the Reagan era to today, explaining how a volcanic, camera-hogging antihero merged with America's most powerful medium to become our forty-fifth president.

In the tradition of Neil Postman's masterpiece Amusing Ourselves to Death, Audience of One shows how American media have shaped American society and politics, by interweaving two crucial stories. The first story follows the evolution of television from the three-network era of the 20th century, which joined millions of Americans in a shared monoculture, into today's zillion-channel, Internet-atomized universe, which sliced and diced them into fractious, alienated subcultures. The second story is a cultural critique of Donald Trump, the chameleonic celebrity who courted fame, achieved a mind-meld with the media beast, and rode it to ultimate power.

Braiding together these disparate threads, Poniewozik combines a cultural history of modern America with a revelatory portrait of the most public American who has ever lived. Reaching back to the 1940s, when Trump and commercial television were born, Poniewozik illustrates how Donald became "a character that wrote itself, a brand mascot that jumped off the cereal box and entered the world, a simulacrum that replaced the thing it represented." Viscerally attuned to the media, Trump shape-shifted into a boastful tabloid playboy in the 1980s; a self-parodic sitcom fixture in the 1990s; a reality-TV "You're Fired" machine in the 2000s; and finally, the biggest role of his career, a Fox News–obsessed, Twitter-mad, culture-warring demagogue in the White House.

Poniewozik deconstructs the chaotic Age of Trump as the 24-hour TV production that it is, decoding an era when politics has become pop culture, and vice versa. Trenchant and often slyly hilarious, Audience of One is a penetrating and sobering review of the raucous, raging, farcical reality show―performed for the benefit of an insomniac, cable-news-junkie "audience of one"―that we all came to live in, whether we liked it or not.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Poniewozik's trenchant, brilliantly witty critique of the cultural archetypes percolating into American politics is one of the best analyses yet of the Trump era." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This intelligent eye-opener belongs on the small shelf of valuable books that help explain how Trump created his base." - Kirkus Review (starred review)

"This is both a fascinating look at the ways television has changed and shaped the U.S., and a compelling lens through which to look at how we got to November 8, 2016." - Booklist

"The Mueller Report of television criticism! James Poniewozik's Audience of One is both damning and illuminating, a witty, penetrating exposé of Trump's most intimate relationship, the one with the medium that made him." - Emily Nussbaum, television critic for The New Yorker

"Now that the Donald Trump freak show has replaced all regularly scheduled programming, staggering us daily, as one of its longtime chroniclers I'm grateful for this brilliant, lucid, and essential book to help make sense of this American nightmare." - Kurt Andersen, author of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire

The information about Audience of One shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

James Poniewozik

James Poniewozik has been the chief television critic of the New York Times since 2015. He was previously the television and media critic for Time magazine and media columnist for Salon. He lives in Brooklyn.

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