Thursday, June 15, 2017

Birthday: the man who neither reads nor writes books but has 18 best-sellers

donald trump reader.jpg

Donald John Trump (1946-  )
Businessman, television personality, author, politician

Donald Trump, the President of the United States, turned 71 years of age yesterday.

He is, according to himself, a voracious reader and an all-round book enthusiast (“I have friends, somebody that's a great writer, where they write a book and call me up and say, 'Can you do me a favor, can you tweet it?' " "Can you," I interject, "tweet my book, please?" "I will!")

Though he is, his staff say, a Tasmanian Devil of activism in The White House, he occasionally drops hints of his reading habits:

Trump continued, saying, “I love to read. I don’t get to read very much, Tucker, because I’m working very hard on lots of different things, including getting costs down. The costs of our country are out of control.”

At his first Easter Egg Roll- a traditional venue for high government officials to promote kids’ reading- the President opted out, leaving the work to some staff and cabinet members, and his wife. And in a January interview The New York Times reported that the President prefers shorter-form media:

He rises before 6 a.m., watches television tuned to a cable channel first in the residence, and later in a small dining room in the West Wing, and looks through the morning newspapers: The New York Times, The New York Post and now The Washington Post.

But his meetings now begin at 9 a.m., earlier than they used to, which significantly curtails his television time. Still, Mr. Trump, who does not read books, is able to end his evenings with plenty of television.

Still, the President has claimed to be a reader in the past, and in February a protest movement sought to “bury The White House in books.”

On June 1, 2016, a Hollywood Reporter staffer asked Trump what he was reading:

Before Trump trundles off to bed — actually, before that, never too tired, he plans to watch himself on Kimmel — I ask that de rigeur presidential question, which does not seem yet to have been asked of him. "What books are you reading?"

He knows he's caught (it's a question that all politicians are prepped on, but who among his not-bookish coterie would have prepped him even with the standard GOP politician answer: the Bible?). But he goes for it.

"I'm reading the Ed Klein book on Hillary Clinton" — a particular hatchet job, which at the very least has certainly been digested for him. "And I'm reading the book on Richard Nixon that was, well, I'll get you the exact information on it. I'm reading a book that I've read before, it's one of my favorite books, All Quiet on the Western Front, which is one of the greatest books of all time." And one I suspect he's suddenly remembering from high school. But what the hell.

In May 2016 another interviewer asked the same question. According to The New Republic, she got the same answer, though with a Palinesque twist:

Asked by Megyn Kelly [in her Fox News special] what his favorite book is besides The Art of the Deal, Trump chose All Quiet on the Western Front. (Not sure what happened to the Bible!) Kelly, perhaps sensing that Trump may not have read a book since sixth grade, asked him to name the last book he read. “I read passages, I read areas, chapters, I don’t have the time,” Trump said. “When was the last time I watched a baseball game? I’m watching you all the time.”

The answer seems to be one he liked. He used it again with Tucker Carlson nine months later.

In previous interviews, Trump has said The Bible is, in fact, his favorite book (“A big thumbs up!...I think the Bible is certainly, it is THE book!”), with his own first book, 1987’s The Art of the Deal, a photo-finish second.

He declined, for several primaries, to say which verse of the Bible is his favorite:

The Christian Post reports that Trump previously said that the Bible was his favorite book, but refused to cite a favorite verse of Scripture. Later, he said that his favorite Bible verse was “never bend to envy,” which is not in the Bible...

"Nobody reads the Bible more than me," Trump stated.

Before running for president, however, Trump told a number of interviewers (Psychology Today, 2009; Short List, 2012; Business Insider, 2013; The Observer, 2015) his favorite book was Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking. The book, published in 1962, was a staple in the Trump household when he was a child; and Trump’s parents worshipped at Peale’s Marble Church; their funerals and his first wedding were held there as well.

In January 2016, Trump told an Iowa crowd his next most huge favorite:

Trump told Adventists gathered in the Iowa-Missouri Conference offices that Ellen White’s Steps to Christ was “way up there too… a close third.”

Asked about his favorite passage or quote from Steps to Christ, Trump avoided specifics, choosing instead to say that “all of it was amazing.”

Trump added that Ellen G. White was a “terrific old lady who wrote a hell of a lot of books,” praising the Adventist co-founder for her work ethic. “She would have done great on The Apprentice.”

On another, undated website,, he included among his top ten business leadership book recommendations,  another Ed Klein work on President Obama,  The Amateur. The other nine included Machiavelli’s The Prince; Sun-Tzu's The Art of War; and two books by one of his ghostwriters, Robert Kiyosaki, along with one by Kiyosaki’s wife.

In 2011, Trump revealed a tyro’s interest in China. "I've read hundreds of books about China over the decades," Trump told Xinhua, the official news agency of the People's Republic. He gave the Times’ Tony Pierce a list of twenty:

1. "The Party" by Richard McGregor
2. "On China" by Henry Kissinger
3. "Mao: The Untold Story" by Jung Chang
4. "Tide Players" by Jianying Zha
5. "One Billion Customers" by James McGregor
6. "The Coming China Wars" by Peter W. Navarro
7. "The Beijing Consensus" by Stefan Halper
8. "China CEO" by Juan Antonio Fernandez and Laurie Underwood
9. "Poorly Made in China" by Paul Midler
10. "CHINA: Portrait of a People" by Tom Carter
11. "The Man Who Loved China" by Simon Winchester
12. "China Shakes the World" by James Kynge
13. "Mr. China" by Tim Clissold
14. "Country Driving" by Peter Hessler
15. "The Dragon's Gift" by Deborah Brautigam
16. "Factory Girls" by Leslie T. Chang
17. "The Heavenly Man" by Brother Yun
18. "1421" by Gavin Menzies
19. "Seven Years in Tibet" by Heinrich Harrer
20. "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua

Beyond China, Trump likes reading about Abraham Lincoln, telling MSNBC’s Morning Joe that, “I will read anything about Lincoln. I just found the whole era fabulous. I studied it and I like it.”

Donald Trump is widely alleged to have been involved in the writing of eighteen books to date:

Trump: The Art of the Deal (1987), co-written with Tony Schwartz

Trump: Surviving at the Top (1990)

Trump: The Art of Survival (1991)

Trump: The Art of the Comeback (1997), co-written with Kate Bohner

The America We Deserve (2000), with Dave Shiflett

Trump: How to Get Rich (2004)

The Way to the Top: The Best Business Advice I Ever Received (2004)

Trump: Think Like a Billionaire: Everything You Need to Know About Success, Real Estate, and Life (2004)

Trump: The Best Golf Advice I Ever Received (2005)

Why We Want You to be Rich: Two Men – One Message (2006), co-written with Robert Kiyosaki

Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life (2007), co-written with Bill Zanker

Trump: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received: 100 Top Experts Share Their Strategies (2007)

Trump 101: The Way to Success (2007)

Trump Never Give Up: How I Turned My Biggest Challenges into Success (2008)

Think Like a Champion: An Informal Education in Business and Life (2009)

Midas Touch: Why Some Entrepreneurs Get Rich—and Why Most Don't (2011), co-written with Robert T. Kiyosaki

Time to Get Tough: Making America No. 1 Again (2011)

Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again (2015)

Last year, a report for the now-banned Washington Post binge-read an eight book sampler of the Trump oeuvre, and learned, 2212 pages later,

Trump disparages even when offering praise. “There’s nothing I love more than women, but they’re really a lot different than portrayed,” he confides. “They are far worse than men, far more aggressive, and boy, can they be smart!” Boy.

To be fair, it is not just his wives, not just women — it’s everyone. Trump’s books are sprayed with insults, like he’s trying to make sure we’re still paying attention. He trashes a former Miss Universe for gaining weight. When he meets a one-star general, he asks, “How come you’re only a one-star?” The Rolling Stones are “a bunch of major jerks.” He dismisses Paul McCartney, “the poor bastard.” (That was for not getting a prenup. Obviously.) Trump also slams complete unknowns — random banking executives or real estate types, lawyers or community activists, anyone who dared cross or disappoint him. “If someone screws you,” he writes, “screw them back.”

Trump’s world is binary, divided into class acts and total losers. He even details how physically unattractive he finds particular reporters, for no reason that I can fathom other than that it crossed his mind. The discipline of book writing does not dilute Trump; it renders him in concentrated form. Restraint is for losers.

Trump’s books tend to blur together, with anecdotes and achievements enhanced with each retelling. Did you know, for example, that Trump renovated the Wollman ice skating rink in Central Park in the mid-1980s? (If not, pick up any of his books and you’ll find the story there.) By the new millennium, Trump had moved on from autobiographies to business-advice books, adapting elements of his life into bite-size financial wisdom. “Don’t let the brevity of these passages prevent you from savoring the profundity of the advice you are about to receive,” he writes at the beginning of “How to Get Rich” (2004).

I’m no billionaire, but much of the advice usually falls between obvious and useless. Stay focused, he says. Hire a great assistant. Think big. Where he gets specific, it’s stuff like: “The best way to ask for a raise is to wait for the right time.” Or this gem from “Think Like a Billionaire” (2004): “People should always be encouraged to follow their dreams (my children have) but realize that a lot of time and money can be wasted chasing dreams that just weren’t meant to be true.”

Even if your dreams aren’t meant to be, Trump’s are, because his dream is the American dream. Throughout the books, he conflates himself with New York City (“When I’m attacked, in a strange way, so is New York”), and because the Manhattan skyline embodies the country’s aspirations, he becomes, by the transitive property of Trumpness, America. “When you mess with the American Dream, you’re on the fighting side of Trump,” he warns. He accuses regulators — or “burons,” a cross between “bureaucrats” and “morons” — of “Dreamicide.”

Trump’s dream, however, is born of a narrow view of America. They say presidents struggle to break out of their bubbles, but Trump has designed his quite deliberately. “The reason my hair looks so neat all the time is because I don’t have to deal with the elements,” he explains. “I live in the building where I work. I take an elevator from my bedroom to my office. The rest of the time, I’m either in my stretch limousine, my private jet, my helicopter, or my private club in Palm Beach Florida. . . . If I happen to be outside, I’m probably on one of my golf courses, where I protect my hair from overexposure by wearing a golf hat.” Even when Trump tries to relate, he can’t pull it off. In one instance, he complains about awful traffic on the way to the airport. A common gripe. “Luckily,” he adds, “it was my plane we were heading to, my plane, so it’s not as if I could have missed the flight.”

Beyond his bubble, Trump has other aspects of the commander in chief role down. He is reluctant to admit mistakes, for instance. When he does, he usually says he miscalculated how awful other people would be. Or it’s the Trumpiest remorse possible: “I have only one regret in the women department — that I never had the opportunity to court Lady Diana Spencer. . . a dream lady.” His confrontations with the news media (“a business of distortions and lies”) would make Ari Fleischer’s and Jay Carney’s press shops look cuddly. After questioning whether Ronald Reagan had “anything beneath that smile” in his first book, Trump eventually shifts to the standard GOP Gipper worship. Finally, he struggles to delegate. As president, he would appoint himself U.S. trade representative, for example, and “take personal charge of negotiations with the Japanese, the French, the Germans, and the Saudis,” he writes in “The America We Deserve” (2000). “Our trading partners would have to sit across the table from Donald Trump and I guarantee you the rip-off of the United States would end.”

After a week in the Trumopography, Carlos Lozada concluded, “Trump’s world is binary, divided into class acts and total losers.”

One of his ex-wives has revealed a past evergreen of The Donald’s:

According to a 1990 Vanity Fair interview, Ivana Trump once told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that her husband, real-estate mogul Donald Trump, now a leading Republican presidential candidate, kept a book of Hitler's speeches near his bed.

"Last April, perhaps in a surge of Czech nationalism, Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler's collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed ... Hitler's speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist," Marie Brenner wrote.

...When Brenner asked Trump about how he came to possess Hitler's speeches, "Trump hesitated" and then said, "Who told you that?"

"I don't remember," Brenner reportedly replied.

Trump then recalled, "Actually, it was my friend Marty Davis from Paramount who gave me a copy of 'Mein Kampf,' and he's a Jew."

Brenner added that Davis did acknowledge that he gave Trump a book about Hitler.

"But it was 'My New Order,' Hitler's speeches, not 'Mein Kampf,'" Davis reportedly said. "I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I'm not Jewish."

After Trump and Brenner changed topics, Trump returned to the subject and reportedly said, "If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them."

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