“We’ve come a long way since that night when Freddy dumped a bowl of mashed potatoes on Donald’s head because he was being such a brat.” (Donald Trump’s sister Maryanne at the White House in April 2017). Everyone laughed … except Donald who listened with his arms tightly crossed and a scowl on his face…

By Roger Childs

As Donald Trump’s highly unusual, intensely interesting and very controversial presidency comes to an end, it is timely to reflect on the man who has millions of followers and millions of detractors. He was the candid candidate in late 2015 as a dozen Republicans, mainly experienced politicians, started competing to be the GOP presidential nominee for the 2016 election.

How did this man get to the start line and then amaze the U.S. and the World by winning the presidency?

Mary L. Trump is Donald Trump’s niece and Too Much and Never Enough is the inside story of a very wealthy but highly dysfunctional family, and the president it produced. Her feelings about her famous uncle is summed up in the book’s sub-title How my family created the world’s most dangerous man. 

Fred Trump the money maker

Mary is the daughter of Fred and Mary Trump’s eldest son, the late Freddy Trump. Obviously her father’s story features, but the two main characters in her perceptive analysis of growing up as a Trump are Fred and Donald – the former built the Trump Real Estate Empire and the latter almost destroyed it.

Fred Trump and Donald Trump (Photo By Adam Scull)

Fred was the patriarch, a domineering individual with fixed views, who expected everyone to live up to his expectations and abide by his wishes, and if they didn’t they would be berated, humiliated, isolated and not supported. Fred knew how to make money and took advantage of any influential people who could help him, and tapped into subsidies that might be on offer to promote commercial and housing developments. He had an aversion to two things:

  • wasting money
  • paying taxes. 

Frank assumed his eldest son would be the man to ultimately take over the company, but Freddy didn’t enjoy working for his father and after a few years pursued his interest in flying to become a pilot flying with TWA. His father didn’t approve so Freddy gave it up, but in the years that followed he became an alcoholic, was divorced and passed away in his forties. 

The heir apparent — Donald J. Trump

So Fred subsequently put all his faith in second son Donald, who from his childhood was arrogant, self-centred, narcissistic and dishonest. For example he paid a friend to sit his university qualifying exam. 

The book reveals what is now well-known that Donald was a disaster as a businessman: 

  • making many poor and costly decisions
  • running up huge debts in the hundreds of millions of dollars
  • being bankrupted four times
  • using and underpaying undocumented workers
  • not always paying contractors for completed work. 

Among his worst deals was to move into Atlantic City and build two casinos which struggled to make ends meet. And then he made the disastrous decision to commission the construction of a third called the Taj Mahal.

However, he was flamboyant, confident and popular, and was great copy for the media. Fred was happy to see the Trump name in the headlines and bank-rolled virtually all Donald’s deals — and frequently bailed him out. 

Donald cultivated politicians, lawyers, bankers and anyone who would support his schemes and massage his ego. He built a reputation based on bravado and dishonesty and yet many people of influence bought into it.  He often humiliated and neglected other members of the Trump clan and grudgingly attended regular family gatherings, mainly in deference to his successful father and ailing mother. Mary’s family was treated shamefully. 

As the back cover puts it: She describes a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse.

As a family member and clinical psychologist Mary Trump was the ideal person to write this book which provides perceptive insights into how her family created the world’s most dangerous man. This is a fluent insider story which is often grim, but sometimes humorous, based on first-hand experience. At just 211 pages it is an absorbing, easy read. 

It’s an important book which should be read by anyone who wants to understand the phenomenon that is Donald J. Trump.