Just yesterday, Mary Trump’s highly-anticipated tell-all Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man hit the shelves. The title alone is just too much to pass up and the audiobook enthusiast that I am, I just could not pass up the opportunity to listen to all six hours and forty of the tale in one day. My impression of this book was — wow!
Without giving much away, I will explain my impression in a few more words.
Mary Trump, born 1965, is a psychologist by profession and the daughter of Fred and Linda Trump by birth. She is the niece of Donald Trump and is not a big fan of her uncle. While the book’s title is, of course, about POTUS numero 45, Mary Trump’s story starts decades earlier. In this way, Trump’s story is about the many factors that shaped Donald Trump into the person he is today.
With her psychological training, Mary Trump has deduced that her uncle suffers from some form of narcissism and potentially a few other ailments, if not also a learning disorder. However, without a battery of testing, these claims cannot be verified. While most of Mary’s assessments come from observations and interactions, she is also attuned to a family history that sheds more light on how Donald Trump came to be.
Mary Trump spends a good deal of the book discussing the family dynamics that Donald Trump grew up in, namely, that of the relationship between Trump’s siblings and parents. Fred Trump, the father, was the emotionally unavailable businessman who worked long hours building the Trump empire. He was cold, smart, and savvy and — shockingly (or rather not) Mary claims that he was a sociopath. Mary Anne Trump (née MacLeod), the mother, was a Scottish immigrant turned American homemaker, who cared for Trump and his siblings, but was often strung out by the antics of her misbehaving boys. Freddy, the older brother, was to follow in his father’s footsteps, but fell from grace when he chose to become a pilot over helping run the family business. Donald, the subject of this story, took over Freddy’s spot and his bold, straightforward attitude landed him in good favor with Fred Sr.
While the above description of the family is meant to sketch out an overview, Mary Trump paints a detailed portrait of strained familial relations, stemming from Fred Trump’s apparent inability to show genuine love for his children, and the competitive environment that Donald Trump was brought up in.
Most of the action in this story is set in the 20th century with significant portions focusing on Donald Trump’s childhood, his rise to power at The Trump Organization, and also the tension surrounding the execution of Fred Sr’s will upon his death in 1999.
The story is sensational in the amount of details it gives about the Trump family. Mary Trump’s personal interactions with these individuals makes the family members come to life. While the story is about how Donald Trump “came to be” so to speak, I feel that there was no information that was completely jarring about the President. The way we see Trump behave today is no different than the collage that Mary Trump makes of him from decades ago. In a weird way, to me, the story just seemed to make sense. In my mind, I was just saying “ahhh, I see” in a way where all the “dots” are already there and Mary Trump’s narrative is merely the connector.
In conclusion, Too Much and Never Enough is a polemic work about POTUS, so, therefore, it should be read with a few large grains of salt. It goes without saying that the timing of this book was set to bring some negative publicity before the election. But, at the same time, Mary Trump’s writing is not simply a tirade against the president. Intermittently, she shows compassion for Donald Trump as there were some rather important factors beyond his control that did some damage in his life (namely, his allegedly sociopathic father).
All and all, if you are interested in a Trump family history, do indeed get yourself a copy of Too Much and Never Enough.
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