Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, by Mary Trump

Simon & Schuster, July 2020

Mary Trump, niece of Donald Trump, has written a short, highly readable, interesting, and informative book about her uncle. It's about how damaged parents raised even more damaged children, especially the "favorite," Donald himself.

It's not a political exposé. You will be disappointed if that's what you're looking for. 

Donald was the fourth of five children, and the second of three sons, of Fred Trump and Mary Anne Trump. He was two years old, and his brother Robert, the one recently buried from the White House, was only nine months old, when their mother became very ill and was suddenly hospitalized. It was months before she recovered, to the extent that she did, and in the interim, Fred didn't bother to parent the kids at all; that was Mary Anne's job. It was not his job, even when she wasn't available to do it.

However good a parent Mary Anne Trump may have been before this illness, she was much less able to be an effective parent afterward. Mary Trump, based on what her aunts, father, and possibly her uncles told her, says that Mary Anne was the type of mother who used her children to comfort herself, rather than comforting them.
Fred Trump pitted his sons, especially Freddy and Donald, against each other.

Donald, even as a toddler, was seeing his elder brother, Freddy, abused and neglected due to not having the "killer" traits that Fred was determined his son should have.

Donald learned fear watching the abuse of his brother, and learned ruthlessness and disregard for anyone but himself as he hid his fear and was rewarded for even his worst behavior.

There are parts of this book that resonate very strongly with me, relating to, let me be clearly, childhood experiences that were not nearly so bad and parents that were not nearly so damaged themselves, but which nevertheless have some resemblances.

Some reviews complain that Mary Trump shows some empathy for Donald. Of course she does; she's a clinical psychologist, and unlike Donald, she's a normal human being who does have empathy and who watched some of the abuse, of Donald and of her father, up close. I feel some of that empathy, too.

It doesn't change what we should do about Donald Trump. It doesn't change my astonishment, or apparently Mary's, that so many people were taken in by him in the 2016 election. He's a very damaged person, incapable of doing the job he currently has, and that's a danger to all of us.


I bought this book.

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