Never Enough: Book on Trump as businessman sheds light on campaign

Editor’s Note: Donald Trump’s successful run for the Republican Party presidential nomination has unleashed interest in books about and by the billionaire businessman-turned-politician. The following is part of an occasional series of reviews of Trump-related books. Previous reviews looked into his 1980s book, website The Art of the Deal, ed and this year’s The Trump Presidential Playbook. In this installment, we assess the 2015 biography Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Michael D’Antonio.

July 20, 2016

Rarely has a presidential nominee generated as much controversy as Donald Trump. He has captured his chosen party’s nomination amid statements and actions that turned off many Republican Party elites and rank-and-file voters, while shocking political observers, who have quite consistently, and inaccurately, predicted his demise. As we watch Trump’s nomination and acceptance of the party nomination on Thursday evening, we have to ask, “How did he do it? How did he get there?”

Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success, a 2015 biography of Trump by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Michael D’Antonio, tackles our questions by going back to America’s fascination with the first Gilded Age, as Mark Twain named it, and the men who made it: the Carnegies, Rockefellers, and Vanderbilts. Americans’ admiration for those who have acquired tremendous wealth has been as much a part of the country’s culture as its professed adherence to Democratic ideals, values paradoxically existing side-by-side throughout our history.

D’Antonio says American politics, history and culture favors the proposition that wealth equals success. Even more attention is lavished upon those who have gained great fame as well as great riches. And “no one achieved those two goals quite like Donald Trump, who became quite literally, the face of modern success,” he concludes in this 346-page book.

D’Antonio chronicles Trump’s early adult years as a publicity-seeker who believed notoriety had real monetary value. Years later, in a 2010 deposition, Trump testified that his name alone was worth $3 billion. From a belief that all publicity is good publicity, Trump “came to display a personality that was all id, all the time, and truly an expression of the American urge to forge empire from ambition,” D’Antonio writes.

+Never Enough: Book on Trump as businessman sheds light on campaign photo
Book cover
D’Antonio’s book was published after Trump launched his presidential campaign a year ago, you can see the same patterns in the now-GOP nominee’s approach. From announcement speech to daily tweets, Trump’s comments have ranged from outlandish to outrageous with little daylight in between.

The subsequent rise of social media has also enabled celebrity businessmen to generate publicity at any time of day or night, without PR departments or corporate publicists. Trump, as we know all too well, considers himself his own best unfiltered publicist.

The value in D’Antonio’s book is to point out the consistencies in Trump’s business publicity and political campaign approaches regardless of who the political strategist or handler may be. The Melania Trump-plagiarizing accusation has shined a spotlight again on Trump’s campaign management, and is reminiscent of the Paul Manafort-Corey Lewandowski tension. However, D’Antonio’s book is a reminder that this campaign from kick-off to convention bears Trump’s unmistakable imprint, his brand. It is Trump-style through and through.

+Never Enough: Book on Trump as businessman sheds light on campaign photo
Donald Trump 2016
Trump’s ascendancy may also be explained by his timing.

In the wake of recession and evaporating financial security, Trump has risen as the fortunes of the middle class have fallen. His posturing and polemic tirades speak to people who fear they are losing status, falling helplessly to lower middle class and beyond. Their American Dream no longer seems attainable. Trump promises to “Make America Great Again” but what he is really promising is to bring back the American Dream.

And for those who fear they have lost it forever, no price is too high to get it back. They are willing to make, as D’Antonio describes Trump, a thin-skinned, retaliatory, billionaire their Commander-in-Chief in the desperate hope that the gold dust of his success rubs off on them.

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About the reviewer
Joy Howell is the founder of Cambridge Strategic Partners, a Washington D.C.-South Florida strategic communications firm. She is a resident of Delray Beach. Howell served as a communications director for the Al Gore-Joe Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000 and has consulted for a variety of business and consumer groups on public policy issues before Congress.

Howell, Joy. “Never Enough: Book on Trump’s Business Sheds Light on His Politic.” The Palm Beach Post. N.p., 20 July 2016. Web. 22 July 2016.