Marc Shapiro sets out in this biography of Donald Trump not to just regurgitate the well known, but, instead, to present "the moments in his life, good and bad, large and small, that combined to make Donald Trump something special in a whole lot of different worlds and, currently have made him a legitimate candidate for one of the biggest jobs on the planet…President of the United States." Even so, there is not much in this biography that has not already been written about in prior Trump biographies or autobiographies. We know, for example, about Spy Magazine's 1988 article on Trump where it described Trump “as a short fingered vulgarian. A bombastic, self-aggrandizing un-self-aware bully with a curious relationship with the truth.” We also know about Trump's multiple marriages and affairs, his business successes and failures, as well as his numerous threats of lawsuits and his famous line: "If you hit me, I will hit you back 100 times harder.”
What sets this book apart from the others, however, is Shapiro's focus on the human being beneath the Donald Trump brand. While I find the Trump brand and Trump's bombastic personna distasteful, Shapiro still made me feel sorry for Donald the child who was exiled at 13 to a brutal military academy. It is this childhood, I think that will be of interest to sociologists, historians and others for generations to come, whether Trump wins the presidency or not.
Shapiro posits that the lack of hugs and kisses in Trump's childhood may have contributed to turning him into a bully. And a bully he was. As Shapiro notes: "The young Trump soon became a literal menace to the neighborhood. Parents had taken an immediate dislike to him and, in several instances, had forbidden their children from associating with him." Trump himself states in The Art of the Deal: "In the second grade I actually gave my teacher a black eye. I punched my music teacher because I didn’t think he knew anything about music. I’m not proud of that but it’s clear evidence, even early on, that I had a tendency to stand up and make my opinions known in a very forceful way.”
There are other interesting tidbits the book, such as the fact that Trump's family name was Drumph, not Drumf; and that it was Donald's father who set the record straight about his ancestry being German, not Swedish. Apparently, he had told people they were Swedish "because, at the time, he was renting apartments in a building he owned to predominantly Jews who he feared would not rent from him if they knew he was German." Shapiro also pulls no punches about the first business of Trump's grandfather during the 19th century gold-rush: brothels and bars.
At the end of the day, no one can deny that Trump is one most colorful personalities of the last fifty years. Whether you like Trump or not, Shapiro does an excellent job of presenting the real man behind that personality and this is a book worth reading.
(In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided me with a review copy of this book via NetGalley.)
Print Length: 131 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Riverdale Avenue Books (February 25, 2016)
Publication Date: February 25, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC