From the Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York Times reporter who has defined Donald J. Trump's presidency like no other journalist: a reckoning that chronicles Trump;s life and its meaning from his rise in New York City to his tortured post-presidency.
[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.
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.
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.