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You forget you're reading about a presidential candidate. This book reads like an engrossing biography of a business mogul in the vein of Rockefeller or Jobs. Men who embodied the American archetype of the maverick entrepreneur. Complicated men with difficult personalities and big ambitions.
But the comparison ends there.
A group of Washington Post reporters assembled this book in record time. And unlike another reviewer, I marveled at how seamlessly the pieces fit together--except where the chronology backtracks to follow some new thread of inquiry.
This book is going to polarize readers. If you like Trump, you will find the candidate's family history, business deals and branding savvy informative. But you'll flinch at the way the authors' choose to tell the stories of Trump's life, which are on the whole unflattering.
Still, those readers opposed to candidate Trump might be surprised (or not) that these reporters from a decidedly liberal-leaning newspaper have reined in their narrative. Unlike what is turning out to be the usual run of anti-Trump and anti-Hillary Clinton books, this biography doesn't call out what the authors' perceive as Trump's character flaws in ALL CAPS and exclamation points.
The reporters haven woven an absorbing biography. The preface places Trump in the months leading up to his candidacy. Chapter one offers standard biography fare, with backstories on the grandparents and parents.
Father Fred Trump's real estate dealings and allegations of racist rental policies are teased out. There are stories of Trump as a pranksterish youth and as a young man of means desperate to throw off his father's business and set off on his own terms. Trump comes off as a supremely confident and monomaniacal figure obsessed with deal making (big surprise there), real estate and himself. The Marla Maples affair gets ink. We get some insight into the real estate projects in New York, Atlantic City, Panama, Scotland, etc.
Other topics: Miss Universe pageant, the reality TV show, television cameo roles, bankruptcies, net worth, history with the Clintons, flip-flopping party affiliation, appeal to the masses, evolving political platform, the Trump brand, the 2016 Republican primaries and Republican National Convention.
The book touches on the major plot points in Trump's life and uses them to build a picture of Trump as a man, businessman--and potential candidate. Along the way, the authors try to answer why Trump the presidential candidate is so alluring to certain voters and equally horrifying to others.
36 of 42 people found this review helpful
Do I have to be careful about what I say? Can I be sued for writing a book review? These thoughts occur to me as I prepare to summarise this book.
Well, firstly, it’s an interesting listen. Donald Trump has definitely had an interesting life. If you’ve been reading the news for the last year then I think you will already have an idea of the character of this man, and my impression is that the Donald Trump of this book is very consistent with the persona portrayed in the media.
I’m going to grossly oversimplify things by splitting what I learned about Trump into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ attributes:
• He’s fearless
• He’s happy to join in with any sort of media/publicity exercise with minimal preparation – happy to just be himself and rely on his spontaneous charisma. He isn’t a fake.
• He has the ability to inspire people
• He was good at sport
• His primary motivation appears to be self-aggrandisement and self-enrichment. I don’t think he’s really interested in the greater good.
• In his many business dealings it has all been about winning. Lots of people have been victims of collateral damage in the course of these dealings, and I don’t think that would have troubled Trump’s conscience. The goal of victory or profit is sufficient justification for any harm that might have come to anyone in the course of doing business. There are simply winners and losers.
• His evaluation of women appears to be based on physical attractiveness alone
• There are some suggestions in the book that he has been involved in racist activities
• He promotes gambling (by owning casinos) and the objectification of women (by owning beauty pageants)
He might make a good general, because he seems to inspire people and he’s ruthless in pursuit of his goals (he didn’t go to Vietnam, but that’s another story). He’d make a terrible president. He has already established a reputation for racism, sexism and for confrontational positions towards Mexicans and Muslims. He doesn’t appear to have the diplomacy and sensitivity required of this role, and his motivation for seeking office is questionable.
The book is a valuable listen because it gives you the opportunity to evaluate whether all the negative press about Trump is justified – and as a bonus it is an interesting listen.
36 of 43 people found this review helpful
I'm guessing that many of the people who worked on this book were pretty hostile to Trump. On the whole I think they did a pretty good job of putting their personal distaste to one side and giving a fair overview of Trump's eventful life.
His failures get more attention than his successes, but perhaps they are just more interesting / revealing.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Amongst a climate of chaos this book comes across as balanced and well researched. With the understanding that it is a group effort by several writers, the timeline is at times a little erratic, but the focus is upon a thematic tale. Many of Trump's current... errr... behavioural aspects become more recognisable and understandable. Anybody with an interest in American or World politics, stability or the future should read or listen to this book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful