This is a very readable memoir of the Trump family. Mary is Donald Trump’s niece and has bravely spoken out against him in her book. It’s not great literature and it’s obviously preaching to the converted (I don’t suppose a Trump supporter would want to read a book which labelled him as ‘the world’s most dangerous man’) but it’s powerful and well-timed. It’s up to date too, including his response to the pandemic. With the US election looming ahead, perhaps Mary’s book will make a difference.
The majority of the book follows the history of the Trump family, with a particular focus on Fred (father of Donald, grandfather of Mary). From the start, Donald is presented as his father’s favourite, given everything on a golden plate, with no talents except for dishonesty and pretending he knows what he’s doing. The author contrasts Donald’s career with that of her own father, Freddy (older brother of Donald) who became a pilot but eventually ended up an alcoholic, relatively poor and never able to win his father’s approval. Mary suggests that Freddy’s early death was a result of how his father and brother treated him. A significant part of the book is devoted to the bitter aftermath of her grandfather’s death, as she and her brother had been cut out of his will.
Mary’s training in clinical psychology is evident in her writing, as she analyses how Donald’s childhood and the dominance of his father in the family formed his behaviour which we see today. He comes across, unsurprisingly, as a horrible person, cruel, greedy, racist, sexist, egotistic, ignorant and unravelling under the pressure of being in a role he’s unsuitable for. Mostly, the author lets you work that out for yourself, saving the last chapter of the book for the most forceful of her opinions.
The Trump family tried to block the publication of this book, which undoubtedly has fuelled the publicity. I’m sure it’s a great coup for the publisher Simon & Schuster too.
First published in 2020.