Disclaimer: I purchased Mary Trump’s Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man because I wanted to confirm my own biases about a man I despise. I was not expecting groundbreaking content going into it.
While the book did not disappoint in that fashion, given all that is going on in the world today (and all that Trump has done to put us in this downward spiral), the content was good but not quite riveting.
Side note: Everyone is named Fred, Freddy, Mary Anne, Mary, Don, Donnie, etc., which makes this a bit hard to write.
Too Much and Never Enough is told through the eyes of Mary Trump. It explores her life growing up in the Trump family. Her father, Fred “Freddy” Trump Jr., was the second of Fred and Mary Anne MacLeod Trump’s five children. Mary makes the case that her grandfather gave preferential treatment to Donald over the rest of the family. She does a very good job of explaining that Donald learned how to play the game early on whereas others, like her father, did not or chose not to.
Mary claims her father was given the short end of the stick. Freddy didn’t want to be in the family business. He took a different path, one which Fred Sr. did not agree with, and therefore he was mostly cut out of the family. However, it seemed that Freddy had a lot of opportunity that he squandered. His alcoholism eventually got to the point where he lost everything — an illustrious career as a pilot, his wife and family, and ultimately his life.
Don’t get me wrong, Freddy Trump deserves empathy. There are points in the story where he begs for help from Fred Sr. and is denied on multiple occasions. However, the author would have you believe that this is because Fred Sr. had a preference for Donald, and not because Freddy made choices early on that his father saw as disrespectful to the family.
The Parts About Donald
The book certainly paints a picture of why Donald Trump is the way he is. His upbringing. His father. His “life only has room for one winner” mentality. There are a lot of stories about Donald from the pre-The Apprentice era where he just seems like the 1980s playboy that a lot of us remember from that time. He was the caricature of a rich, out-of-touch uncle. There’s even an old trope about Christmas gifts that someone else had purchased and he was not aware of what he had given them, a la Frank Cross in Scrooged.
Yes, there are some good jabs about Donald paying to have his SATs taken by someone else. There’s also a great little punch about his admittance into Penn, which she claims was about the equivalent of getting into a state school back in the mid 1960s.
Overall, however, the book throws more barbs at Fred Trump than Donald. It almost makes you feel slightly sorry for the entire family—including Donald.
The Audiobook Version
The book itself has an entitled tone to it. I assume this is because it’s told through the eyes of the granddaughter of a billionaire as she gives an account of why her side of the family wasn’t given enough. It’s not something with which many people can relate.
I haven’t read a paper copy, but I assume the entitlement vibe may not come off as strongly in print as it does in the audiobook. The audiobook’s read lends to the feeling of entitlement with emphasis on words and phrases that give a “woe is me” tone for a family that has more than most American families will ever dream of having.
Maybe 2020 has made me more cynical, but part of me feels that Donald’s objections to and lawsuit over the book were to drum up publicity so that his niece could sell more books. It reeks of a WWE grudge to drive promotion. She actually spells out how that kind of self-promotion is Donald’s M.O.
Were we all duped? Probably not. However, I wouldn’t put anything past this family.
If this is the case, it’s definitely on brand for the family. If not, then I’m glad Mary Trump is getting some of what she feels she deserves. Either way, the Trump family is insufferable.
Do I recommend this book? No. If it truly got under Donald’s skin, good, I’m glad, but I don’t think this book will change anybody’s mind about him either way.
In my opinion, by purchasing this book, you’re just giving more money and attention to a family that has had too much and seemingly never enough of both.