Too Much and Never Enough is a deftly written account of cross-generational trauma, but it is also suffused by an almost desperate sadness—sadness in the stories it tells and sadness in the telling, too. Mary Trump brings to this account the insider perspective of a family member, the observational and analytical abilities of a clinical psychologist and the writing talent of a former graduate student in comparative literature. But she also brings the grudges of estrangement ... Mary Trump does offer some embarrassing, even silly, stories about growing up Trump ... More memorable than any such details are this book’s insights and declarations ... She provides little specific evidence or context for [assertions of mental health problems]—a habit that recurs throughout the book, as the author makes definitive pronouncements about her uncle’s state of mind ... Mary Trump’s most convincing moments are those when she draws out behavioral parallels between [her grandfather] Fred and Donald.
... detail—memorably specific, fundamentally human and decidedly weird...gives this book an undeniable power, even if its narrative is bookended by Mary’s strenuous efforts to put her training as a clinical psychologist to use ... The story she describes in Too Much and Never Enough is presented as a cautionary tale ... dysfunction is abundantly chronicled in this book ... Of course, her book is unlikely to change anybody’s mind. One imagines that a number of the president’s supporters may not even consider his upbringing to be that disturbing ... Mary, who was also a graduate student of comparative literature, knows how to tell a story and choose an anecdote ... This is a book that’s been written from pain and is designed to hurt ... it’s when Mary talks about her need 'to take Donald down' that she starts speaking the only language her family truly understands.
In her explosive portrait of the Trump family, Mary Trump, the president’s only niece, traces Donald Trump’s fear of persecution — along with what she terms his various other insecurities and pathologies such as narcissistic personality disorder — back to its source: his severely emotionally damaged parents ... By artfully recounting anecdotes both juicy and ghoulish, Mary, whose father, Donald’s elder brother, Fred Trump Jr., (known as Freddy), died of alcoholism at the age of 42, documents how early neglect and abuse formed (or deformed) the president’s character ... Mary Trump’s compelling saga of one very unhappy family does more than just provide probing insights into her uncle’s disturbing inner world. It’s also a first-rate primer on the chaotic inner workings of an administration that has shocked the world by failing to take the basic steps required to keep Americans safe during the coronavirus pandemic ... Mary’s eyewitness account, bolstered by her professional expertise, highlights how the president’s pathologies now pose a direct threat to the lives and livelihoods of millions.
Horror clouds every page. I expected to encounter some seamy stuff in any history of the Trump family’s fortune ... But I also expected at least a little gritty urban romance. If not the sumptuous passions of The Godfather, the Trump saga would—I hoped—contain a moment or two of Sopranos-style wit. Nothing doing ... As a piece of writing, Mary Trump’s book is less investigative exposé than gruesome family memoir ... even if Trump’s cheating on the SAT is not exactly shocking, it’s nonetheless satisfying to confirm what we guessed all along: The president never acquired baseline competence in math or vocabulary ... What’s most intriguing about Mary Trump’s book is not juicy revelations but its thesis: her idea that the Trumps were so deceitful and corrupt that growing up among them meant growing up 'institutionalized,' stuck in an m.o. that cripples a person emotionally and cognitively ... It’s a bleak story, and there’s no redemption ... Refusing to flinch from the darkness of Trump’s story is no small accomplishment. We should all be so brave.
Mary is both a witness and an expert. She rarely reflects on her position as the former—notwithstanding her warning that 'it’s difficult to understand what goes on in any family—perhaps hardest of all for the people in it'—and she is vague about her methods and her aims as the latter. This makes for a disorienting narrative approach, in which the personal and the professional, the colloquial and the clinical, are commingled ... Many of Mary’s speculations about motives and feelings become, in an instant, the basis of causal inferences ... It’s possible that these claims are sourced, but she presents them as empirical facts, not possible explanations ... Likewise, Mary’s account of her father’s alcoholism is oddly reductive, especially for someone who once treated addiction patients at a community clinic ... Mary’s unaccountable narrative omniscience about the mental states of her main characters—at one point she suggests that Donald wishes he had personally killed George Floyd—has a certain parallel in her handling of factual niceties. A substantial portion of the book concerns events of which she has no firsthand knowledge ... many [anecdotes] are recycled from material that is already public. Curiously, when her stories are at variance with previously published versions, she does not note or explain the differences ... the broad strokes are persuasive ... Too Much and Never Enough is ultimately much more insightful about Fred than about Donald; the father was a private figure whose personality and family life have been far less well known.
Mary Trump’s memoir is a modern-day Bleak House. Yet even in the darkest of Dickens novels, no family comes across quite as mendacious, grasping and avaricious as the Trumps. At times the reader will feel sorry for the young Donald. Who among us could cope with an upbringing like that? Then you remember that he inherited $413m and calls himself self-made.
It is score-settling time, Trump-style. Go big or go home. Few are spared. Too Much and Never Enough doubles as mesmerizing beach reading and a memorable opposition research dump, in time for the party conventions. Think John Bolton-quality revelations, but about Trump’s family ... Although she casts her book as a warning to the American public, it is 200-plus pages of revenge served with the benefit of time and distance. Yet the narrative remains compelling ... A modern-day Moloch, the president expects the nation to sacrifice itself. Not everyone appears willing, least of all his niece.
Trump’s daddy issues are nothing new. Despite Mary’s insistence that the media has failed to cover the issues she writes about in this book, the truth is that no political figure in modern history has received more negative attention or had more obvious flaws. Mary can twist the knife in describing Trump’s insecurities—describing him as someone who 'knows he has never been loved'—but this is not a book that will likely change anyone’s mind about the character of the president ... The revelations in Too Much and Never Enough may not change our picture of the president much, but they’ve certainly unnerved him and his siblings. That counts for something.
There are no hidden grudges in this bleak book and there is no hidden agenda. It’s all right out there ... This is not a book full of shocking Trump anecdotes; although there are one or two. It is something else altogether; it’s a psychological profile of a horrible family. And if there is a villain here, it’s not the man who has become the worst US president of the modern era; it’s his dreadful father, Fred Trump ... The reader might decide that the author would be more morally convincing if she had walked away from the money and the family. And it’s true that for all that the book is well-written and unemotive, the author never analyses herself and her motives. Yet running through every chapter is the theme of getting some recognition from this cold, conscienceless family for the tragedy of her father’s life and death.
... a ghastly tale laden with profound dynastic anguish: something like Succession crossed with Bleak House ... There are a few moments of light relief ... This furious book is at once mesmerising and excruciating. It strays too far into politics, on which the author is neither authoritative nor interesting. It has a bitter, naked agenda and the weeping sores left by Mary Trump’s childhood make her a deeply unreliable narrator. And yet she has insights that no biographer can match. She has the anecdotes, the receipts and the battle scars from 55 years as a Trump. And if nothing else she has inherited the family penchant for enacting vengeance with apocalyptic style.
... it goes on, coming to a head in the unbelievable story of Fred Trump’s will. Does Mary Trump, Ph.D., have an ax to grind? Sure. So do we all. Dripping with snideness, vibrating with rage, and gleaming with clarity—a deeply satisfying read.
... a concise and damning account of her family's dysfunctions and their role in shaping her uncle's toxic blend of cruelty, incompetence, and vainglory ... plenty of unflattering anecdotes ... The most harrowing sections deal with Freddy Trump's yearslong decline ... Writing with the sharp eye of a perpetual outsider in her own family, Trump presents a melancholic portrait of their complicity in her uncle's worst behaviors. Readers who despair for President Trump's ability to lead the country out of its current crises will have their worst suspicions confirmed.