Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power
Book Review by George Kennedy
Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, both award winning authors, offer authoritative insights into the 70-year old Trump who says he is qualified to be “King.” I suppose an alternate title could be “Trump Unclothed.”
Before Trump threw his hat in the ring to compete for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Trump was a loud, brash, blowhard about whom most of us knew very little – at least not in any coherent sense. Trump had not been a candidate for public office on any level (local, state, or national), therefore the customary paper trail (policy proposals, votes cast, public statements, etc.) was noticeably absent. It is true Trump had offered opinions on Reagan Administration policies as well as those of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama while teasing the media regarding his own interest in running for the presidency. The fact is, despite decades of scrutiny, we knew not enough about him.
“Trump Revealed” is meticulously researched, well documented (59 pages containing 337 notes and source citations), and thus a provocative and an illuminating read. The Trump revealed, note the authors, “believed in the unlimited, unequaled power of the individual to achieve anything…that his fame and success would catapult him to a level of power that he deserved because he had made so much money… that he would make America great again.”
Trump, a character carefully constructed over a lifetime of questionable business practices, an alliance with power broker Roy Cohn, alleged dealings with organized crime, numerous lawsuits (over three thousand) and bankruptcies, and failed relationships, strides – at least temporarily – as a colossus over a Republican Party elite that is as contemptuous of him as they are fearful. Trump returns their contempt.
Perhaps one of the more notable insights into Trump’s character is contained in this quote: “At every stage of his career, Trump tried to punish those who questioned the image he wanted the world to see. Legal threats were as much a part of Trump’s business tactics as brash talk, publicity stunts, and the renegotiation of deals. ‘I’ll sue’ became the watchwords of his business, just as ‘You’re fired’ became the mantra of his television image.”
The timing of “Trump Revealed” is propitious because we know so little about the character who could take the oath of office as this nation’s 46th president on January 20, 2017.
A Trump presidency could be unique in the annals of the American presidency simply because he appears to be unanchored to any identifiable ideological foundation. He contradicts himself frequently, craves unbridled adulation, and tells us that since “nobody knows the system better than me”, he is singularly qualified to solve this nation’s most intractable economic and social problems.
Just 10-weeks shy of the November Elections, the question remains, who is the real Donald Trump? A blue-collar billionaire; the inveterate self-promoter; the “humorless, cold and selfish businessman who refused to pay his bills if he could see the slightest gain for himself.” There are other characterizations to be sure.
For all of his larger-than-life bravado, it is questionable that Trump has the skills, the intellectual heft, and the temperament to unite a deeply polarized and frightened nation. Each of us will have a choice to make this November and I do encourage those with doubts to read “Trump Revealed”. The authors take no philosophical position on Trump; just the facts. You decide.
Michael Kranish is an investigative political reporter for the Washington Post. He is the coauthor of John F. Kerry and The Real Romney, both Boston Globe biographies of the presidential candidates, and the author of Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War. He was the recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists Award for Washington Correspondence in 2016.
Marc Fisher is a senior editor at the Washington Post, where he has been the enterprise editor, local columnist, and Berlin bureau chief, among other positions over thirty years at the paper. He is the author of Something in the Air, a history of radio, and After the Wall, an account of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. Fisher wrote several of the Washington Post articles that won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2016 and the Pulitzer for Public Service in 2014.