Published: February 26, 2016
Thank you to Patty for writing a review on goodreads, which piqued my interest in reading this book. I was one of many people who did not understand the Donald Trump phenomenon during the election, who could not fathom the possibility of him getting elected, but it happened. I decided I would read this biography to better understand our president, his motivations for becoming president and what his agenda might be. I’m not sure how much new about our President I learned, however, it was helpful to have all the information in one place.
I felt that I knew the superficial Donald Trump from media attention over many years. I knew about him as the real estate tycoon, the Apprentice showman, the man with dazzling new beautiful wives, the alleged affairs, and most recently the run for president. He loves the spotlight and America has seen so much of him, but I was hoping to discover something more.. to explain his run for president as something more than attention-seeking. This book is well written and researched, covers his life from crib to ascension to president, and is easy to read.
Shapiro describes a Trump who “in his personal and professional life, has been slicker than Mercury and just as hard to handle.” What we learn from this book is that Donald Trump denies and strikes back when questioned or attacked. He rarely gives straightforward answers. He waffles on his positions. He says outrageous things and gets away with it.
He has had three marriages with beautiful women. He seems to have been enamored of the concept of “trophy wife.” He was having an affair with the second while still married to the first. He tried to broker a deal for Marla (wife #2) with playboy for her to pose nude, which she ultimately declined.
What comes across in this book is that Donald is extremely vain with a mania for branding. He is a showman and a master manipulator. He utilizes his privilege and wealth to great advantage throughout his life. He gets into Wharton business school by way of family ties, he is able to escape the draft by reason of being at Wharton. He wields his money and power over the media daring them to defy him. He cares very much about his image and does whatever he can to maintain that image, including bribing journalists. He is extremely money hungry and very concerned with public perception of his wealth, to the extent that he has actually sued over his perceived underestimation of his wealth by the media. He is prone to telling stories that are often untrue. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the propagation of the “birther movement.” Trump’s insistence on questioning Obama’s place of birth had created a rallying cry so fierce that Obama felt compelled to produce his birth certificate, finally putting the movement to rest.
Donald Trump has proven himself racist. In his speech announcing his run for president he said “When Mexico sends it people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people who have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Multiple news outlets reported that the Trump campaign had paid extras to come and cheer for that rally and others. Trump has stated that if it were up to him all Muslims would be banned from entering the United States.
Many world leaders have evoked a fascist comparison of Trump and his ideals, including People and NSNBC. Trump kept a copy of “My New Order,” a book of Adolf Hilter’s collected speeches by his bed according to ex-wife Ivana. Trump, defending his proposed ban on Muslims, in an interview with Good Morning America, cited President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s use of the Alien and Sedition Acts following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. In February 2016, Trump retweeted a quote from fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini that said, “It’s better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” In July 2016, Trump retweeted a picture of Clinton next to a star-shaped badge, similar to the Jewish Star of David that read “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” against a background of $100 bills. It was immediately condemned as anti-Semitic, so Trump had the star replaced with a circle and #AmericaFirst. He would soon be criticized that America First is the name of a fascist organization that encouraged appeasement with Aldolph Hitler and Nazi Germany during World War II.
Donald Trump has proven himself sexist and misogynistic. Megyn Kelly confronted Trump during one of the first debates with this question, “You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as President and how will you answer the charge of Hillary Clinton that you are part of the war on women?” Trump responded with anger and further woman-hatred, accusing her of having blood coming out of “her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” The Access Hollywood tape, released to the world during his campaign, revealed that among other things, Trump felt he could sexually assault any woman he wanted because he was famous.
Trump had found an effective route to the White House in courting white lower and middle class men and women in the heartland of America. “Trump’s supporters were pro-gun, pro-flag, anti-foreigner and convinced that their shortcomings were the fault of everybody but themselves. They came from a world that was miles removed from Trump’s. But when it came to the countless rallies in front of thousands of confirmed believers, Trump was quite capable of speaking their language, especially on the road to the Republican National Convention.” Trump seemed forever the showman, but had no interest in putting together an actual campaign. Several high level members of his campaign resigned after power struggles and subsequently, his long time campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski was fired and replaced briefly by Paul Manafort, before the press discovered he had business dealings with Russia. Fortunately for Trump, some far-right leaning Republicans, including Jeff Sessions, Newt Gingrich, Mitch McConnell, and others pledged to back him and began offering some much needed advice, like the need to pick a running mate.
Trump’s main platform for his presidential run was creating jobs, building a wall between the US and Mexico, and banning Muslims from entering the US. He has allied himself with white supremacists, most notably Steve Bannon. As Donald Trump’s platform has remained thin, it will likely be Trump’s cabinet members steering the ship.
This book’s publication date per netgalley, amazon and goodreads is February 26, 2016. However, the copy that I read through netgalley took me through a history of Trump leading all the way up to the day he took office on January 20, 2017. So, I’m guessing another edition will be released that gives this fuller biography. Or you can request a copy directly from netgalley, here. I’m glad I read this. I did not feel there were a lot of surprises within this book, but it was helpful to read about Trump’s life from start to presidency to get a bigger picture. Please note, my review is more biased than the actual book. However, I do find it hard to believe that anyone who would read this book and take it to heart could come away singing Trump’s praises in terms of being an effective or suitable president of the United States.
Donald and first wife, Ivana
Children: Don Jr, Ivanka and Eric
Children: Tiffany Trump
Donald and current wife, Melania
Mark Bowden’s 1997 Playboy Article on Trump – This article is mentioned in the book. Trump tries to bribe Mark Bowden into writing a more favorable article once he realizes the weekend Mark Bowden is spending at his mansion is going awry.