No figure has come to symbolize the excesses of the 1980s as vividly or as powerfully as Donald Trump. As master builder, as media star, as bestselling author, as conspicuously wealthy consumer, Trump reigned — until his spectacular collapse — unchallenged as a unique new breed of entrepreneurial superstar, one who was as confidently victorious on television and the podiums of an endless string of press conferences as he was in the boardrooms and bankers' offices where he waged his epic battles. For all the media attention that has been devoted to him, though, what do we really know about Donald Trump, apart from what he has carefully contrived to foster the myth of a self-made financial genius, a man for whom extravagance was merely a perquisite of success?
In Trump, The Deals And The Downfall, the journalist most qualified to tell the story finally unravels the myth and reveals the truth behind the rise and fall of the remarkable mogul. For over thirteen years — from the time Trump was an audacious newcomer on the New York real estate scene — Wayne Barrett has scrupulously followed Trump's career, and has charted a pattern of backroom deals and the underside of Trump's own business practices — behavior nothing like the canny prowess celebrated in Donald's own autobiographies. The Trump we meet in this exceptional book is a man who, rather than a self-created millionaire, is in fact heir both to a substantial empire built by his equally rapacious father and to the Democratic machine connections that made the empire possible. Barrett's investigative biography takes us from the days of Donald's lonely youth to his brash entry into the real estate market, and to the still-secret machinations behind the major deals that made his name; from the initial triumph of the Hyatt Hotel to the successful purchase of the largest parcel of real estate in Manhattan, the West Side Yards; from the incomparably opulent Trump Tower to such contrasting showpieces as the Taj Mahal casino and the Plaza Hotel; from the extravagance of the $1,OOO-per-square-foot, unoccupied Trump Palace apartments to the extraordinary, desolate Palm Beach estate Mar-A-Lago.
Barrett's investigation of these deals provides not only a fascinating chronicle of Trump's own suspect business practices, but also a hair-raising account of the workings of power brokers in the heady and heedless money culture of the 1980s. Here is a detailed portrait of the forces that made a Donald Trump possible: the banks that advanced him staggering loans, at times based on misleading information; Trump family associations with mob-connected figures; and compromising alliances with governors, mayors, and perhaps his most powerful benefactor of all, the rogue lawyer Roy Cohn.
Most compellingly Barrett paints an unprecedentedly intimate portrait of Trump himself, a man driven by bravado, ambition, and an anxious ruthlessness to subdue his rivals and control his allies. We see him head to head with an opponent as powerful as Pete Rozelle, ingratiating himself with the brooding governor on the Hudson, and fueling the Drexel engine driven by Michael Milken with hundreds of millions in fees — paid, ironically, by gaming companies to fend off Trump takeovers. We look behind the headlines to explore his complicated emotional and business relationship with Ivana, and the use he planned to make of his mistress Marla Maples as a "southern strategy" in his contemplated presidential campaign. And through interviews with scores of adversaries and former colleagues we are given a privileged look at Trump the businessman in action — arrogant as often as he is brilliant, reliant on threats as much as on charm, and ultimately a cautionary tale: himself the victim of a career that will see no parallel in our lifetime.
Praise for Trump:
"Trump is a withering portrait of the most self-mythologized and promoted businessman of our era, an exhaustively researched and long-overdue antidote to Trump's own books. It is a penetrating portrait of the age that spawned him and the many who aided and abetted his rise. Trump seems destined to be the definitive account of how Trump got ahead and why he fell. It is a sad story, with important lessons for us all." — James B. Stewart, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Den of Thieves
"Donald Trump surprises us again. Wayne Barrett's Trump is a fresh, detailed, and vivid account of the tangled connections of money, politics, and power in our times." — Nicholas Pileggi, author of Wiseguy