Early reviews pan new Ron DeSantis book

Desantis courage
Reviewers have panned the book as overly clichéd in early writeups.

While Florida Politics awaits a review copy of the new Ron DeSantis book, other outlets are beginning to turn in their own reviews of the HarperCollins tome.

Thus far, initial reviews suggest the strategy to selectively embargo pre-release copies may have been because “The Courage to be Free” doesn’t survive close scrutiny from those familiar with the Governor’s political career.

The New York Times wouldn’t be expected to give the book a strong review, but the writeup from Jennifer Szalai leads with an indictment of the book’s clichéd framing.

“As governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis has been casting himself as a (Donald) Trump-like pugilist. But the overall sense you get from reading his new memoir is that of the mechanical try-hard — someone who has expended a lot of effort studying which way the wind is blowing in the Republican Party and is learning how to comport himself accordingly,” Szalai wrote.

The reviewer goes on to blast the catchphrase-laden text that blasts “wokeness” and other offenses, saying “the culture war Mad Libs can’t distract from the dull coldness at this book’s core.”

“Even the title, with its awkward feint at boldness while clinging to the safety of cliché, suggests the anxiety of an ambitious politician who really, really wants to run for president in 2024 and knows he needs the grievance vote, but is also trying his best to tiptoe around the Donald Trump dragon,” Szalai contended.

Comparing the book to a “politician’s memoir written by ChatGPT,” the Times reviewer noted the book failed in its fundamental mission to introduce DeSantis ahead of a 2024 run.

“His new book will leave some supporters, who have encouraged DeSantis to “humanize himself” for a national audience, sorely disappointed. In his acknowledgments, he thanks ‘a hardworking team of literary professionals who were critical to telling the Florida story,’ but presumably those professionals could only do so much with the material they were given,” Szalai snarked.

“DeSantis’s blunt-force wielding of executive power might sound like a good time for hard-core social conservatives, but if part of the point of this book is to float a trial balloon for a presidential run, you can see the gears turning as he tries to make his message palatable for the national stage,” Szalai added, before offering a withering blast of his “bullying sense of superiority” in the close.

The Guardian writeup by Lloyd Green likewise said “The Courage to be Free” isn’t particularly courageous at all: “On the page, the Florida Governor doesn’t show much courage about the man he must beat to be the Republican nominee.”

The “mirthless read,” per Green, is rooted “in sycophancy and ambition tethered to a whole lot of owning the libs,” and is even less interesting than Mike Pompeo’s own book launched at the same time for his own presidential ambitions.

Supplication to former President Trump is central to the narrative, Green argued, with DeSantis again crediting Trump’s endorsement for helping him make the sale in 2018, extolling his “unique star power.”

The subtext of Green’s review is there is little “unique” about DeSantis, and not much “star power” to boot. And that much of his invective about the “fake news media” is likewise a Trump hand-me-down.

“Yet for all of this media-bashing in the name of supposed truth, the governor omits the role of Fox News in propagating fake news about the presidential election and defamation cases brought against the news channel,” Green scorned.

Perhaps the omission is because Fox News is aggressively promoting the Governor’s book, including an hourlong appearance on primetime Sunday with friendly host Mark Levin.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Dr. Franklin Waters

    February 27, 2023 at 10:27 am

    Ron DeSantis is hardly even literate, so of course his book is going to be unreadable word salad.

    • joeg2028

      February 28, 2023 at 1:13 pm

      Anybody with a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a law degree from Harvard is far from “hardly . . . literate,” but that doesn’t mean he can make himself come across as reasonable, likeable, and electable.

    • terry

      February 28, 2023 at 2:37 pm

      “Word salad”


  • Steve

    February 27, 2023 at 11:03 am

    Sounds like the DeSantis version of Hitlers Mein Kampf.

  • DeSantis DeSucks

    February 27, 2023 at 11:38 am

    Right, Q-pilled morons read books.

  • Rob Desantos

    February 27, 2023 at 1:13 pm

    Sounds like he should have gotten a ghost-writer, but any reputable writer would see through his BS, and we know Desantos only hires yes-men.

  • ranna

    February 28, 2023 at 8:00 am

    I don’t plan to read Rona’s tripe. I doubt he actually wrote it. He spends most of his time jetting around the Country begging for contributions. He doesn’t serve the Floridians who pay his salary. His culture wars attitude is disgusting such as his mantra – Florida is where woke comes to die. Give me a break. Maybe he is talking about his supporters in the Villages who can’t sleep? Rona can’t rewrite history or the definition of “woke” and he can trumpet his slogan all he wants but that doesn’t change anything. He also can’t run away from his past and his Harvard Law degree by speaking out against “elites” as he is the poster child for elites.

    • joeg2028

      February 28, 2023 at 1:17 pm

      “He also can’t run away from his . . . Harvard Law degree by speaking out against ‘elites’ as he is the poster child for elites.”

      Exactly what I think about him.

      However, IQ4.5, a self-described billionaire, somehow convinced enough low- and middle-income voters that he was one of them, so anything is possible.

  • riffle queen

    February 28, 2023 at 2:00 pm

    oh, this book is so…BORING…nothing but pure propaganda

  • It's Complicated

    February 28, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    I bought the last one in stock at a local bookstore, today. I plan to actually read the book, and make informed comments about it.

    Ad hominem attacks are tiresome and generally reflective of the weakness of the attacker’s position, communication skill, or maybe a helping of both.

  • Ned Ryerson

    February 28, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    The Next President of the United States lays siege to ” go along to get along Republicanism.” Fortunately; the Democrats have no worthy opponent and Ron is unstoppable

  • Jay

    March 1, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz wake me when it’s over😂

  • Ned Ryerson

    March 3, 2023 at 8:41 pm

    What a Great recounting of the next president of the United States inspiring personal life. Heartfelt, detailed, and vivid. This man loves and knows Florida having worked his way through years and years there. A fascinating read.

Comments are closed.


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