“The Unsung Heroes of the 2020 Presidential Election”

Luke Broadwater for the NYT reviews THE STEAL: The Attempt to Overturn the 2020 Election and the People Who Stopped It By Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague.

The unheralded and mostly unknown Republicans active in local politics who refused to go along with Trump’s lies — and played a key role in preserving American democracy — are the main subject of “The Steal,” by the journalists Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague. At 230 pages of text, their book is a lean, fast-paced and important account of the chaotic final weeks of the Trump administration.

Several major works have already been published about those last days, including “Peril,” from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, and “I Alone Can Fix It,” by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. (Those books by Washington Post journalists have served as source material for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.) In fact, the opening scene of “The Steal,” depicting Trump’s internal mind-set, is sourced to “Frankly, We Did Win This Election,” by Michael C. Bender of The Wall Street Journal.

But what “The Steal” offers is a view of the election through the eyes of state- and county-level officials. We see Biancaniello confronting her fellow Republicans, who were raising hell at a vote-counting center (“Do you understand that you can suspect something, but it means nothing if you don’t have evidence,” she tells one); and Bishop, whom the authors call in one sense maybe “the most authentic Republican in America,” explaining to a fellow Republican: “Dude, I voted for the same guy you did. I’m just telling you it wasn’t stolen; these ballots weren’t illegally cast.”

In Maricopa County, Hickman listened to claims of fraud, but concluded that the count was accurate, and then refused to take Trump’s telephone calls. “What did the president expect of him?” Bowden and Teague write. “Nothing honorable.”

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