Too Much and Never Enough : How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man [Mary L. Trump, 2020]

When I heard this book was coming out, I wasn’t exactly interested. I always have a feeling that this kind of tell-all book, launched in specific points in time, has several agendas besides the story and is never free of bias.

Then a work colleague told me about it, and I was curious. I read it, always aware that it is not free of political and social bias. It is also not free of emotional and personal bias. The author is a well established clinical psychologist and the claims around the book suggest that she uses her expertise to analyse her family history. I don’t think that was exactly the case, and I found that the stories and anecdotes were thrown in, sometimes without context, sometimes without reason and often without much of a point. For instance, she tells a story about receiving a golden shoe from Uncle Donald and Ivana for Christmas, but you never get the point about this story (I guess she didn’t either). For me, the storyline was a bit all over the place.

However. This book is about a dysfunctional family, and it sheds some light on the familial and social contexts in which Donald Trump grew up and which gave him the opportunities to be exactly where he is. It talks about his parents, his upbringing and the financial and social scaffolding that he was afforded to turn himself into the mogul that we have always heard about. However, it also tells a much more credible story about his path, which was not at all of the self-made man that he claims to be (shocking, I know). What was even more striking to me was how this story is not at all unfamiliar. There were patterns that I’ve seen in my own family, in the family next door, in the communities where I grew up. It is an inglorious illustration of how far lying, arrogance and cheating the system can take you.

Book-wise, it is not exactly a great book, a great memoir or even a great story. But in the context in which we live, I think it is an interesting exercise to reflect on how families and communities sometimes allow, and even promote, the ascension of corrupt, self-serving and mentally ill people to positions of power and leadership.

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