I wanted to learn more about the American president-elect, Donald Trump. Our school library had a copy of Michael D’Antonio’s Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success. The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author did some long interviews with Trump and people close to him before losing access because he interviewed an enemy of Trump. He supplemented the interviews with research and the book is a very good and even-handed biography. The New York Times reviewed the book in September 2015 when it was published. I also recommend listening to the two podcasts the NY Times did with the author on the podcast, The Run Up.
Trump is so different from people I know. He has devoted his life to making money and more importantly, being a celebrity. In this pursuit of, which the book title and Trump calls “success”, he has lied, exaggerated, cheated, insulted, bullied, and hurt thousands of people. I wouldn’t call this success, but I have much different values than Donald Trump.
Trump’s father Fred, was similar to him, getting his big break in real estate by exploiting loop holes in a government housing project, enriching himself to the detriment of American taxpayers and residents of the housing projects. From there, he continued to develop real estate. As a conservationist and lover of wilderness, I have a dislike of “developers” to start with. Fred Trump’s fathering style is also much different than mine. He bullied his son, sent him to a harsh military academy for grades 8-12 but reached his goal of instilling in Donald, an intense greed and ambition. Donald set his sights on building on his father’s developments by purchasing property in Manhattan. His father’s properties were mostly in Brooklyn. Donald is a third generation German immigrant, and Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Drumpf, was also into real estate, getting his start by running a hotel in Alaska for gold miners in the late 19th century.
Trump has lived an incredibly full life. As you list his accomplishments, I am amazed that one person could do all that he did. From building huge towers in one of the most expensive cities in the world, to owning casinos in Atlantic City, developing golf courses, owning an USFL football team (New Jersey Generals), starring in a highly rated reality television show, owning an airlines, being a motivational speaker and “educator”, three marriages, father to 5 children, to now being president of the United States. Any of these in isolation would be considered a full life. However, all of these endeavors were marked with harming and destroying others, legal battles, bankruptcy, cheating, all because he wanted to “win”.
Despite appearances of fame, fortune and luxury, I think he is a sad figure. I don’t know how he can live with himself knowing the harm he has done to others. His lack of reflection I think is a defense against this. Some may argue that this is the kind of ruthless person we need as president, but I disagree. He is a man with no inner life, he is crass, rude and childish with his insults, I can’t believe that enough people voted for him to win. I do hope he goes crazy and shakes up our political structure which is needed, I just hoped that it would be a better person doing it. I also fear an over reaction to world events that might harm the country. I keep faith in our democratic institutions
D’antonio’s book does well in explaining such an unusual person and some insight into the way he operates. It will be a fascinating four years of his presidency.