The Spectator Australia book club has saved our members hundreds of dollars by recommending books that you should not buy or read. And we have recently created a new category of advice, namely ‘Don’t buy this yet’. This is for books like Malcolm Turnbull’s autobiography, which are not bad enough for an immediate ban, but which are destined to end up in the remainder bin. But so that you will not die from suspense until it gets down to $5 a copy, we will give you are quick summary of its 698 pages, which is that his implosion was everyone else’s fault and that he is perfect in every way. So there! Anyway, we have been reading two books about Donald Trump. And we have a quandary, because the one we expected to warn you not to touch with a barge pole, John Bolton’s The Room Where it Happened, is actually worth buying and, although it will not have you rolling around the sitting room in laughter, it turns out to be a good reference book on issues like the Massive Ordnance Air Blast and the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act, which are subjects of daily conversation in the coffee shops of Melbourne.
And the book we expected to be valuable and entertaining, Mary Trump’s Too Much and Never Enough, is pathetic, juvenile and bitchy and should not be bought unless you (a) like wasting money; (b) do not know what to do with your left-over JobKeeper and JobSeeker handouts after buying the necessities of life like alcohol, smokes, drugs, tattoos and abortions; or (c), if you can get it under Morrison and Frydenberg’s coming $50 billion BookSeeker scheme.
Let me elaborate. John Bolton was Trump’s National Security Adviser until he resigned last year, whereupon he set about writing The Room Where it Happened. Now, I do not hold a brief for Trump, but two things emerge from this book. First, it puts to rest any idea that Trump is bored by and cannot get his head around complex foreign affairs and security issues. In fact, the book shows that he is actually very thoughtful and analytical about them and holds off declaring a policy until the issue has been thoroughly examined. Secondly, there is a lot made of Trump’s shouting and criticism of officials and the general mayhem in the Oval Office and it is true there has been a lot of that. But, again, what comes across is the exact opposite of what Bolton presumably wants to prove, because Trump should be shouting at officials if they can’t defend and articulate their positions. For instance, the aforementioned Massive Ordnance Air Blast was supposed to blow the Taleban into the land of the 72 virgins, but turned out to be a lot of hot air which scarcely touched them. And the whole policy on Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, all driven by the generals and the experts, is achieving nothing. Trump is right in calling the architects of these shemozzles to account. So this is not a bodice-ripper, and it is long, turgid and heavy going. But it is a good reference book to have just in case you get into an argument one day at the Crossroads Hotel about the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act.
Next, Too Much and Never Enough by Trump’s left-wing niece could have been useful as a piece on this unusual man and drawn on the not insignificant achievements of his family to show how they produced a president of the United States. But unfortunately it degenerates into a hateful litany of what, according to Mary, are his many character defects. The title really says it all. What she means is that Trump had and has too much money, property and power, he always wants more, it has corrupted him and turned him into a lying, greedy and corrupt degenerate. The trouble started when the newly elected Trump invited the family to the White House for lunch. But he sent a mini-van rather than a limo to pick them up from the airport. The impertinence! This really sets Mary off and she embarks on a campaign to rewrite the family history and to even up the countless scores she clearly has with her uncle.
So we are told that in his early life he got everything he wanted and, the cad, he would not even throw a baseball to Mary ‘gently’. He was also cruel and, unlike her good self, vulgar, ‘narrow and provincial and egotistical’, ‘incompetent’, ‘a savant of self-promotion, and a shameless liar…’.
Then, he is guilty of ‘brutal ineptitude’ and a ‘monster’. He suffers from mendacity and delusional grandiosity and was mean with Christmas presents. Two of his major faults are his racism and (of course) misogyny. His election win was ‘illegitimate’, his acquittal in the Senate was a sham. He is also guilty of kidnapping children and ‘imprisoning (them) in concentration camps’. The entire US government functions only to protect his ego.
And what is the motivation for this catalogue? Guess what! Well, old man Fred Trump with his millions favoured Donald rather than his brother Freddy, Mary’s father, whom he cut out of his will. It is a story that is common to many families and the explanation is also textbook. Old Fred took exception to Freddy because he was a hopeless failure, a sponger who could not hold down a job or provide for his family and who drank himself to death. No wonder old Fred was a bit irked. Mary smarted over this monumental sense of injustice for years until she concluded that ‘I had to take Donald down’.
So she challenged Fred’s will and got a settlement. But that sort of family settlement is usually ‘too much and never enough’. Now she is driven solely by hatred.
Anyway, I will not be lectured on misogyny by this woman – or on anything else.
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