Book review: Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump

In an effort to shed our ‘Covid-15’ (pounds of pandemic-related fat), my husband and I have started joint-listening to audiobooks while going on long walks in our neighbourhood. Joint-listening is the best! We’ll often pause the book to talk about what we just heard, or in the case of Too Much and Never Enough, exclaim out loud to the empty crescents and cul-de-sacs: “What the f*ck is wrong with these people?”

This is a damning book. It’s so much more damning than John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened: a White House memoir, probably because John spends all his time explaining why he’s so great, why he got the job, why he thinks anyone who’d eat dinner at 10pm is nuts, and how he’s too cool to do yoga. I’m half-way through and had to switch to 1.25 speed. It better get better John….

Why is Mary’s book so damning? Because for most of us, our eyes glaze over when we hear too many facts and figures. “Please, don’t make me know learn geopolitics,” we beg. I may not know international relations, but I know people.

Mary’s book is a series of memories about her extended family — and what a family. You’ve heard people say, “Everyone’s family is a little nuts,” but these Trumps take the cake. Or, to use a groaning pun: the Trumps trump other families as far as nuttiness goes.

Here’s a brief summary. Fred Trump, Donald’s dad, is a super-bully who only cares about money and shows no affection for his family. He ridicules them if they show any sign of humanity, like a toddler’s basic care needs, medical attention for mom, or personal interests outside of Fred’s. 

The book focuses on what happens when Fred’s oldest kid, Fred Jr, wants to be a pilot instead of a slumlord. Fred tears him down, bit by bit, until Fred Jr gives up and drinks himself to death. Donald sees this and, like any kid growing up in an abusive home, says, “Better him than me.” He also, like other abused kids, aligns with his abuser to survive. Donald joins Fred in destroying Fred Jr., and Fred rewards Donald for it. If you get rewarded for being cruel, eventually you learn to enjoy it.

This culture of cruelty is pervasive in the Trump family. Cruelty isn’t just being mean to someone. It’s being unnecessarily mean. The Trump family culture also includes lying for no reason other than to prove you can. All this tallies with my observations of the Donald and the Trump family since 2016.

Regardless of your political leanings, it’s hard to hear how Donald and this family have treated others and not think the behaviour is despicable.

This book is a shake-your-head insight into the Trump family legacy. It’s not the presidency. It’s not the hotels or slums. It’s putting money ahead of everything. It’s taking innocent children and teaching them to deny every human need they have, even for love. People who don’t need love are dangerous. They have nothing to lose. And that is why this book is so damning.

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