It’s hard to assess the news value of Confidence Man ... No doubt, there are revelations aplenty here. But this is a book more notable for the quality of its observations about Trump’s character than for its newsbreaks. It will be a primary source about the most vexing president in American history for years to come ... [Haberman] is an exemplar of her craft, relentless, judicious and even-keeled, giving credit, where due, to her colleagues and fellow biographers, while admitting and adjusting her occasional mistakes ... One of the many services Haberman performs in Confidence Man is to set out the process by which Trump came to his outrageous positions ... Maggie Haberman has been there for it all. The story she tells is unbearably painful because Trump’s success is a reflection of our national failure to take ourselves seriously.
[Haberman's] singular education in New York corruption has stuck with her and sets her apart from her peers reporting on the Trump presidency and its seditious aftermath. It now distinguishes Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America as a uniquely illuminating portrait of our would-be maximum leader ... With a sharp eye for the backstory, Haberman places special emphasis on Trump’s ascent in a late 1970s and 1980s New York demimonde of hustlers, mobsters, political bosses, compliant prosecutors and tabloid scandalmongers ... Haberman offers plenty of material about how these men did it all with virtual impunity ... Confidence Man likewise enlightens about the massive oversights by the press and the broader world of publishing ... Haberman’s contribution in Confidence Man, though, is much larger than its arresting anecdotes. Later generations of historians will puzzle over Trump’s rise to national power. The best of them will have learned from Haberman’s book that none of it would have been possible but for a social, cultural, political, media and moral breakdown that overtook New York beginning in the 1970s.
Monumental ... What will remain from Confidence Man, marketed as the most insightful volume on Trump by his most insightful chronicler, is Haberman’s view of the man ... The broader question about titles like these and the scores of others weighing down the shelves of booksellers coast to coast...is: What is their ultimate contribution? ... The best that can be said for them is that gathered together — and that will be one huge gathering — they will be resources for the biographies and historical analyses of some future time ... The definitive account of the confidence man Haberman portrays is decades away. Most of us, exhausted if not repelled by the mayhem, will be content to wait.
Haberman, the New York Times’ Trump whisperer, delivers. Her latest book is much more than 600 pages of context, scoop and drama. It is a political epic ... Haberman gives Trump and those close to him plenty of voice – and rope. The result is a cacophonous symphony. Confidence Man informs and entertains but is simultaneously absolutely not funny ... Haberman vividly captures Trump’s lack of couth.
Sooner or later every well gets tapped out, and so there isn’t much in the way of scandalous revelations in New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s Confidence Man ... As for the argument that there’s stuff in this book, or in any of the dozens of books on the Trump presidency—whether written by reporters or former staff—that should have been revealed earlier, when it might have made a difference? Please ... An in-depth portrait of Trump himself from a reporter who has covered him for years and who hails from the same New York City that formed him. The result is less a series of scoops and more an authoritative biography, a portrait of the man who transformed American politics ... It’s all a bit sordid and numbing ... She concludes by writing, 'he is often simply, purely opaque, permitting people to read meaning and depth into every action, no matter how empty they may be.' What a way to finish a biography! But is it actually true? Trump can certainly be capricious, but once you understand the basic configuration of his character, his behavior is, if not quite predictable, fairly easy to understand ... An accomplished piece of reporting about the nothingness that is Trump ... Haberman’s book will be the definitive account of Trump’s character and how it was formed, a subject both obvious and elusive. But this also seems like a waste of her talents, this task of proving what can be seen by everyone except those determined not to have it proven to them.