Author: Mary L. Trump
Publication Information: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2020
Library of Congress Classification: E913
Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Trump, Donald, 1946- —Family
Trump, Mary L.—Family
Too Much and Never Enough is 211 pages—a quick read. However, it is not an easy read. This was a hard book to review. It took me a while to process all that I had read.
The book is about a lot of things: the Trump patriarch’s success in destroying his oldest son; the promotion of his second son, Donald, as his heir apparent when Donald had no experience to succeed his father; the belief that Mary L. Trump’s mother was a gold digger, which dictated how the family treated her and, by extension, her children; the death of Mary’s father to alcoholism; the swindling of Mary and her brother out of their inheritance; the lying and covering up of just how much the Trump empire was worth; the real danger that Donald Trump is to the nation. In many ways, the book is a sad look at a nouveau riche family that is misogynistic and lacks morals, love and empathy.
Some of the most disturbing parts of the book is where Fred Trump, the patriarch, belittles and undermines his eldest son, Freddy, driving him to alcoholism, which led to his death at 42. The problem with Freddy was that he wanted to please his father and win his affection, which wasn’t possible. Fred would not allow him to succeed and erected problems that engineered failure. Freddy was able to become his own man in his 20s by walking away. He married and had two children while being a pilot for TWA. But the pressure from his family and his budding alcoholism eventually drove him back to his family, thereby giving up all he had created.
Donald Trump is a major part of the book, popping in and out of the narrative. He becomes his father’s favorite after he comes back from military school, which he was sent to instill discipline and order into an unruly child. Fred Trump became enamored of his son because he was a braggart, bully and egotist. Fred brought him into the business with the aim of eventually spreading their building business into Manhattan, which Donald did in his showman way. However, there was a dark side. Donald spent money like water and, contrary to the illusion that the banks and media helped built up around him, Donald really did not understand the business. Trump Management never had debt until Donald’s machinations in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. This is when Fred Trump poured millions of dollars into Donald’s casinos and other businesses to keep them afloat: “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’” (page 196).
Who will read this book? Probably not the people who should. Mary L. Trump states: “On November 6, 2016, my despair was triggered in party by the certainty that Donald’s cruelty and incompetence would get people killed. My best guess at the time was that that would occur through a disaster of his own making, such as an avoidable war he either provoked or stumbled into. I couldn’t have anticipated how many people would willingly enable his worst instincts, which have resulted in government-sanctioned kidnapping of children, detaining of refugees at the border, and betrayal of our allies, among other atrocities. And I couldn’t have foreseen that a global pandemic would present itself, allowing him to display his grotesque indifference to the lives of other people” (page 207). She believes that Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un and Mitch McConnell “bear more than a passing psychological resemblance to Fred” (page 200). “This is the end result of Donald’s having continually been given a pass and rewarded not just for his failure but for his transgressions–against tradition, against decency, against the law, and against fellow human beings. His acquittal in the sham Senate impeachment trial was another such reward for bad behavior.” (page 205). There’s plenty of blame to go around in regards to Donald Trump’s recklessness as president.
People who know something is wrong with Donald Trump should find the book informative. I did. Some might argue that Mary L. Trump wrote the book to get revenge on not being able to inherit her father’s share of his inheritance. After Freddy died, Fred rewrote his will that took away the 20% allocated to his eldest son and redistributed it between his surviving children. However, he still included Freddy’s children in the will in a very small way that gave them some power without whose authority the will could not be executed. This bizarre way of how he kept them in the will makes no sense. This caused problems for his children, who wanted to execute the will. Freddy’s children didn’t know how much the Trump empire was worth until recently. The resulting lawsuit was eventually dropped (another horrifying story). If Fred Trump didn’t want to leave Mary and her brother much of anything, it would have been far easier to simply disinherit them or simply leave them a fixed amount of money.
I surmise that the reason Mary L. Trump became a clinical psychologist was to help others free themselves from dysfunctional relationships and situations. This training has allowed her to psychoanalyze her own family—which is very damning.