"Born Trump"

In this dishy biography of the children of Donald Trump, 29-year-old Emily Jane Fox succinctly describes each: Ivanka, the media savvy mastermind; Don Jr., the attack dog who, of all the siblings, has the most contentious relationship with their father; Eric, the builder and real estate mogul; Tiffany, the outsider; and son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose own family history plays a large part in the drama of the Trump family. Barron, the fifth actual offspring is omitted from this summary -- “mostly there’s not much interesting to say about a 12-year-old.”

The inspiration for these revelations about the Trump progeny came from Michael Cohen, one of the President’s lawyers and advisers. Even before any of the children were born, Donald Trump said he wanted to have five children to increase the probability that one would be just like him. But the reality is that each child has a different trait of their father’s personality and “collectively, they make the whole.”

Fox, a 2010 White House intern, chronicles the growth of the Trump family, beginning with Donald and his first wife, Ivana, (1977-1992) with whom he had the three high-profile children who are presently associated with the Trump administration. She then introduces television actress Marla Maples, whom he married in 1993 and divorced in 1999, the mother of Tiffany; and Melania Knauss, a Slovenian-born model he married on January 22, 2005, and Barron’s mother.

With a father whose ego had to be stroked continuously, one who was generally absent from home, and frequently involved with mistresses, Ivana’s children adopted the distressing patriarchal attitude: Don’t ever trust anyone, even if that anyone is a member of your own family.

Fox delivers some informative insights, previously untold stories and curious tidbits about this privileged, yet, at times, troubled family. The author puts it this way: the offspring grew up having been handed “a set of golden keys, and with them, golden handcuffs.” The reader sees Donald at his cruelest and at his kindest and the family acting insincerely and ignobly, at times, in order to keep up appearances.

This 339-page book of high-level gossip is a well-researched, detailed look at the Trumps. One way to learn about a man is to see him through his offspring. Fox accomplishes this by depicting the histrionic and often complicated relationships the four adult children have with their father.

The author’s prose is distinctively suited for the early 21st century and its fixation with fame, money and the 24-hour news cycle. Fox’s portrayal of the 45th President’s family is neither angry nor distorted with irony, but her writing style uses verbiage typical of glossy magazines.

I read this book with caution and skepticism, but appreciated the family stories and the opportunity to see how the privileged upper one percent of the population lives, especially how the first billionaire U.S. President and his family live. “Born Trump” makes the reader aware of how easy it is for people of this status to lose sight of the life and challenges facing commoners.