Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous ManToo Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a fast read and especially entertaining for anyone interested in hearing a psychologist's take on our dear leader.

I'm wavering between 3 stars and 3.5, not because Mary Trump is unintelligent, but because this is a book built on anecdotes. While I certainly think Mary is credible and I know that this book was fact-checked thoroughly, the anecdotes make it what it is- a book written about an uncle by his niece. If I were to write a book about my dad's brother, many of my stories would be ones I heard about their younger days and secrets passed along through family gossip. So, while I love a little family goss, that is something to take into consideration. Mary Trump's actual adult interactions with Big Stupid add more credibility, as does her astute psychological observations of her uncle and her grandfather. In fact, that is where she truly shines: "The atmosphere of division my grandfather created in the Trump family is the water in which Donald has always swum, and division continues to benefit him at the expense of everybody else. It’s wearing the country down, just as it did my father, changing us even as it leaves Donald unaltered. It’s weakening our ability to be kind or believe in forgiveness, concepts that have never had any meaning for him."

I think it's also important to acknowledge Mary Trump's feelings around her father, particularly the grief she still feels. That is the undercurrent in much of this book- her father had the opposite reaction of Donald to growing up in the Trump household and his story is a devastating one. Part of what she is trying to do here is to validate his pain and, I assume, hers too.

I know some have said that there's nothing new in this book, but for me, I learned a great deal about Fred Trump, DT's father. He was at the helm of the family and everyone, including his wife, kowtowed to him. He created an atmosphere of division and dysfunction, never expressing actual love. The closest he would get to "love" would be half-hearted loyalty. He was, in short, an amoral man. His youngest son Rob tells Mary after Fred has passed that he essentially didn't give a shit about his grandchildren.

So I guess my takeaway isn't that DT is a monster of his own making, but instead, a monster of his father's making and a victim of his mother's frigidity. We give him too much credit when we paint him as a big, evil man. Instead, he is a stunted man-child, having never learned basic empathy, having never grown up with the warmth of unconditional love. He is a broken person and we are at his mercy.

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Book Review: I Read the Trump Book

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