When I first started reading Too Much and Never Enough, How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump, niece of Donald Trump, I honestly was not sure I’d have the stomach to finish it—but I did, in less than two days. Watching the Donald Trump horror show and the collapse of the United States has not been a pleasant experience for anyone. As Canadians, we have a different perspective on our neighbours to the south. Our view is more global, our values more liberal and our respect for humanity more important. We’re confused, shocked, and disappointed at what we’re witnessing. Even though our own government leaders are far from irreproachable, at least we’re not separating small children into cages and deporting their parents or ignoring scientific advice about the environment and pandemics.
Donald Trump’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump (Sr.) produced five children: MaryAnne, Freddie, Elizabeth, Donald, and Rob. This alone was news to me as I didn’t realize Donald Trump had so many siblings; they’re a pretty quiet bunch, except for him. The author of the book, Mary Trump is the daughter of Freddie Trump, Donald’s older brother who died of illnesses related to alcoholism at the age of forty-two when Mary was only sixteen and her brother Fritz a couple of years older. Her parents were already divorced at the time.
Like the Kennedy clan who had presidential aspirations for their eldest son Joseph Jr. who was killed during WW2, Fred Trump Sr. hoped his eldest son Freddie would eventually take over his growing real estate empire. From an early age, however, Freddie showed that he was not temperamentally suited to business and his interests were better utilized elsewhere. His disappointed father refused to accept his son’s natural inclinations and constantly belittled, harangued and bullied Freddie until he acquiesced and joined Trump Management. The stress and his personal dislike of the menial tasks his father gave him took a toll and Freddie’s drinking increased, his marriage broke up, and his health declined.
All five Trump children grew up with an overbearing, cold father and a worn-down, often unwell, indifferent mother. Donald viewed his older brother Freddie’s struggles as weakness and capitalized on them by joining in the bullying, and copied his father’s habit of always putting money first, ahead of family, relationships, integrity, and ethics. Early in his career, Fred Trump established a trust fund for his five children, allocating twenty percent of the company to each of them. When the eldest son, Freddie died, his two children, Mary and Fritz, his natural heirs, were relegated to the sidelines. They were informed they had no financial claim on the estate. Donald even went so far as to try and get his other siblings to sign over one hundred percent of the company to him but they overruled him. He did succeed, however, in canceling his niece and nephew’s company-sponsored health insurance, knowing that Fritz’s son had severe health problems.
Mary Trump is a highly credible witness to the rise of her uncle, Donald Trump. Not only was she part of the family, but she holds a Ph.D. from the Demer Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies and taught graduate courses in trauma, psychopathology, and developmental psychology. She describes in detail how Donald’s profligate spending and habit of borrowing money from his father which was never repaid went unchecked for years without accountability. Fred Sr. bailed him out regularly while Donald’s business ventures resulted in failure and several bankruptcies. Donald’s business practices and personal spending habits were a veritable money pit.
I don’t want to give away too much here as you need to read the book and draw your own conclusions. Mary Trump is certainly justified in her condemnation of Donald. The first several dozen pages of the book analyze his personality from a professional point of view and make for rather dry reading. Once she gets into the family history, it becomes more interesting. She offers only a few sentences about Ivana, Marla Maples, and Melania, his three wives and I would have liked more information on them. The fact they’re mostly silent says a lot, though. His complicated and unethical business dealings are well-known and alluded to in her description of how she and her brother were cheated out of their inheritance.
Trump lovers will dismiss this book as fake news or nasty fiction. Trump haters will feel validated and reassured their instincts were on the mark. I surprised myself by being able to read the whole book as I really didn’t think there was anything to be said we hadn’t already heard. But I did learn things I didn’t previously know about the family and its complicated businesses. It’s not a history to be proud of and Mary L. Trump is quite frank in stating that it is even criminal. You should read her book and be the judge.
If your local bookstore or library does not have Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump, you can order from Amazon by clicking on the book image to the left.
Disclosure: You will receive Amazon’s best price and I may receive a teeny, tiny commission. Thanks for your support.