Mary L. Trump’s book, Too Much and Never Enough, sold 950,000 copies on the first day of its release. People simply couldn’t wait to read about the author’s uncle, President Donald Trump. As I see it, two consumer groups are buying this book: those who seek insight into Trump’s complicated psyche, and those who are looking for salacious details about Trump that they can post all over facebook. The latter faction will be disappointed; Too Much and Never Enough is not tabloid journalism. Rather, it is a well written psychological profile of Trump’s personality and his carefully crafted persona. As a trained clinical psychologist with firsthand knowledge of the Trump family, Mary Trump is supremely qualified to assess Donald J. Trump. Spoiler alert: according to Ms. Trump, our President is a narcissistic misogynist and a dangerously delusional man. This, of course, has been noted by others many times before.
In fact, for the most part, this book reveals no new factual information about the writer’s infamous uncle (except perhaps that he paid someone to take his SATs for him, anecdotal information Mary Trump admittedly has no concrete proof of). While Too Much and Never Enough outlines some of Donald Trump’s legal and financial misdeeds, all of which are public record, albeit ignored, this book is not Trump’s rap sheet. True to its subtitle, How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man, Mary Trump’s book shamelessly examines how the ruthless ambition of Trump patriarch, Fred Trump, negatively impacted the development of his offspring. In the author’s professional opinion, the emotional shortcomings of both Fred and his wife, Mary Trump, profoundly shaped Donald Trump into the man he is today. Donald’s mother was physically present though emotionally absent in Donald’s life; she left Donald’s upbringing to her husband, Fred, the con, the game player, the man ultimately responsible for the “golden boy” myth that is Donald Trump. Too Much and Not Enough posits that the deep-pocketed real estate mogul of “The Apprentice” does not, in fact, exist. Contrary to Donald Trump’s personal narrative, Too Much and Never Enough makes clear that Donald Trump is not a self-made man who built an empire from a million dollar loan from his father. Rather, everything Donald Trump acquired in his life, including his carefully crafted image as an unrivaled dealmaker, can be traced back to his father.
According to Mary Trump, success at any cost was paramount to Fred Trump. His oldest son, Freddy, the author’s father, did not inherit the senior Trump’s killer instinct and suffered greatly for it; Donald, however, did. Despite lacking his father’s financial savvy, intellect, and ability to conduct business and remain debt free, Donald somehow curried his father’s favor and emerged the favorite, though unskilled, son. Fred Trump desperately wanted Donald to appear successful, which led to a destructive pattern of behavior clearly evident today. The author explains: “Ironically, as Donald’s failures in real estate grew, so did my grandfather’s need for him to appear successful. Fred surrounded Donald with people who knew what they were doing while giving him the credit; who propped him up and lied for him; who knew how the family business worked. The more money my grandfather threw at Donald, the more confidence Donald had, which led him to pursue bigger and riskier projects, which led to greater failures, forcing Fred to step in with more help. By continuing to enable Donald, my grandfather kept making him worse: more needy for media attention and free money, more self-aggrandizing and delusional about his “greatness.” (Sound familiar?)
If you are pro-Trump, you will not like this book (but you probably weren’t planning on buying it anyway). If you are anti-Trump and hoping to gain ammunition with which to bash the man, there’s plenty here (though, again, most of it, except Mary Trump’s unique psychological perspective, is not news to those who have previously read Trump biographies). If you want to understand Donald Trump’s very complicated personality, or as Mary Trump puts it, his many “pathologies,” then you will find this to be an enlightening read.
To some extent, Too Much and Never Enough explains why a man prone to fabrication believes his own lies, why a man who knows very little claims expertise in everything, why a man with six Chapter 11 bankruptcies beneath his belt presents himself as an unrivaled businessman, and why, given this man’s pathologies, he is dangerously ill-equipped to lead this nation. Mary Trump’s conclusion, that Donald Trump “is still, in essential ways, the same little boy who is desperately worried that he, like his older brother, is inadequate and that he, too, will be destroyed for his inadequacy” is well substantiated.