Robert Trump (l) with his second wife and brother Donald

Mary Trump, niece of Donald, states near the end of her book about the great deceiver that the Republican party’s failure to confront his daily corruption has “led to the impending collapse of this once great nation’s economy, democracy, and health.” And you thought your uncle was a bit of a lunatic!

Mary has had a front row seat to the development of the monstrosity that is undermining Western civilisation itself. We are all the product in sum total of our environment. Donald came from such an unsound environment that he never had a chance. Both his parents had deeply flawed personalities: these flaws became magnified in Donald and were actually encouraged by his father Fred Sr. (who died in 1999). Whether consciously or unconsciously, his parents created a Frankenstein that ran roughshod over anyone that he came into contact with. He was the original bully before the term was popularised.

He has glorified in belittling others his entire life. The more he could cheat or lie the more his ego grew. There was no curbing his behaviour. People easily became intimidated with his bluster and either ignored it or accepted it as the cost of doing business with him.

Mary should have written more on The Apprentice TV show. Without the power of that show he would never have got the Republican nomination. She spent little time with his wives, and so offers us nothing on how they may have contributed to his behaviour. Donald’s second wife, Marla Maples, is currently spreading conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. Where did she learn how to do that?

The author also could have gone into more depth on the clinical aspects of the conduct she describes. After all, she has a PhD in clinical psychology. By the way, Mary is the daughter of Fred Jr., the older brother of Donald. Her professional verdict: “Donald continues to exist in the dark space between the fear of indifference and the fear of failure that led to his brother Fred Jr’s destruction.” (Jr. died at age 42, an alcoholic, in 1981)

The younger brother Robert, who died today (Aug. 15) at age 71, is mentioned in the book a few times. In June he filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Trump family to stop publication of the book under review here. Mary tells us that when Fred Sr. died in 1999, “Robert was raked over the coals by his siblings for having told the New York Times that my grandfather’s estate was worth between $250 and $300 million.” Mary says Maryanne, the eldest child of Fred Sr, “lectured him, as if he were a stupid kid. He stood there shamefaced, cracking his knuckles and bouncing on the balls of his feet.” In reality the empire of Fred Sr was worth closer to $1 billion “but Maryanne and Donald would never have admitted that it was even” $250 million. That is because Fred Sr, like Donald, loathed paying taxes and would do anything to avoid them. The subject of money is dear to Mary Trump, as she explains how ‘you know who’ cheated her out of her inheritance.

At his father’s funeral, Donald’s eulogy devolved into a paean to his own greatness. Self-aggrandizement and sleight of hand are interpreted by him as strengths. His personality flaws make him extremely vulnerable to manipulation by smarter, more powerful men like Putin and Kim.

After reading about the Trump family history in this book, it is not hard to fathom why he is the way he is. The family library in Fred’s house was devoid of books. To this day, Donald does not read. His father’s cold, distant, sarcastic behaviour bordered on sadistic. The horror of Frank’s cruelty is magnified in Donald’s personality: a highly functioning sociopath. Like his father, Donald displays a lack of empathy, facility for lying, an indifference to right & wrong, abusive behaviour, and a lack of interest in the rights of others. As Frankenstein, Trump glories in anger and its destruction, and while he cannot imagine love, he believes with all his heart in its rage. Trump is Frankenstein without a conscience.

Now we all live in the alternate reality Fred Sr. created for his son. Welcome to 1984.

This slim book is well written but desperately needs a family tree chart. The number of Trumps and their spouses is vast and confusing.

Too Much and Never Enough ($28) is published by Simon & Schuster

Robert Trump (l) with his second wife and brother Donald