Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man


Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: 7/14/2020
In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.

Book Summary - Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump

What You’ll Learn

  • The dysfunctional Trump family dynamic that helped shaped Donald Trump’s personality
  • How Fred Sr., the patriarch of the Trump family, influenced and controlled the lives of his two eldest sons, Freddy and Donald
  • Details on Donald Trump’s business failings
  • An account of how the Trump family cut Freddy’s line out of their family fortune
  • Information regarding the Trump family finances and the tax fraud expose

Who Is This For

  • Individuals who are interested in psychology and generational dysfunction
  • People who want to learn more about President Donald Trump’s life and family history
  • Fans of current events, politics, and tell-all books

Key Insights

Mary Trump, President Donald Trump’s niece, uses her background in clinical psychology to explain the dysfunctional Trump family dynamic that shaped Donald Trump into the man he is today. The author delves into the family’s history and psychology. She explains how Donald inherited many of his negative qualities from Fred Sr, his father, who she believes was a high-functioning sociopath. Fred Sr. favored Donald over his other sons and encouraged these types of behaviors in him.

At the same time, he was overbearing and overly critical of his eldest son, Freddy, the author’s father. He had high expectations for Freddy and wanted him to take over the family business, but Freddy wanted to make his own way in life and become a pilot. Fred Sr. wanted to control everything, including his children’s lives. This dysfunctional dynamic drove a wedge between Donald and Freddy, and ultimately drove Freddy to alcoholism and early death.

Freddy’s side of the family was cut out of the Trump family fortune. Mary Trump later served as an anonymous source for an expose on the Trump family’s tax fraud. She decided to write this tell-all book because she believes that, in light of his handling of the COVID-19 crisis, Donald Trump being elected to a second term would be very bad for American democracy.

Key Points

The Trump Ancestors

Mary Trump is President Donald Trump’s niece. She is the daughter of Fred Trump, Jr., Donald’s brother. Mary Trump’s paternal grandmother, named Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, experienced complications while giving birth.

The Trump family was privileged and wealthy enough to afford the best physical care for her during labor, but she had to undergo multiple surgeries that rendered her absent from her young children. Even when she was physically around, she was emotionally absent, and this created a void in her children’s lives.

With Mary sick, the children’s father, Fred Trump, was the only parent they had to care for them. However, Fred Trump was not a nurturing parent. He was distant and uninvolved. As a result of their mother’s absence and their father’s emotional neglect, the children began to feel useless, unwanted, and unloved.

Donald Trump, the fourth oldest child and second son, dealt with his parent’s absences by using hostility and indifference as a defense mechanism.

Donald Trump’s paternal grandfather was named Friedrich Trump. He immigrated to America from Germany in 1885, to avoid the German military draft. Friedrich moved to the Northwest and opened up restaurants and brothels. His businesses were successful, and he returned to Germany in 1901 substantially wealthier.

While back in Europe, he met and married Elizabeth Christ, the daughter of his former neighbor. The newlyweds moved to New York shortly after their wedding in 1902. The couple had three children. Elizabeth, Fred, and John were born in the Bronx.

Friedrich Trump died in 1918, and Fred, his eldest son, assumed the role of the family patriarch. He married Mary Anne McLeod, a Scottish immigrant, at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1936.

The couple settled in Jamaica, Queens, and had their first child, Maryanne, in 1937. They had their first son, Fred Jr., whose nickname was Freddy, in 1938. Freddy was the author’s father. Mary Anne gave birth.

Unfortunately, Mary Anne later suffered a miscarriage, which left her with serious medical issues. However, she became pregnant again shortly after, this time with Donald. He was born in 1946. She had her final child, Robert in 1948.

At this time, Fred Sr. began to make plans for the family to move into a new house. He had received government financing for his business, and he had been able to make a large amount of money in real estate. However, he did everything he could to avoid paying his taxes. Fred Sr. also did not like to help other people, nor did he like to read, and he was poor at public speaking. He was a greedy, selfish, egomaniac, and the author believes that Donald inherited many of these same traits from his father.

A Tale Of Two Brothers: Freddy And Donald

Freddy was the eldest Trump son, and his father, Fred Sr., expected him to assume the role as man of the house, as he himself had done. However, Freddy had no desire to follow in his father’s footsteps. Fred Sr. demanded extreme success from his eldest son, while at the same time destroyed his confidence and undermined his chances of success by telling him he was weak and would never be able to achieve the expectations he had for Freddy. Fred Sr. held impossible expectations and demands for his son, and Freddy was unable to meet them to this father’s satisfaction. Instead of taking on the responsibilities his father expected of him, Freddy began sneaking out, drinking, smoking, goofing off, and lying to his father.

Lying was common in the Trump family. But most of the Trumps, including Fred Sr. and Donald, lied for personal gain. For Freddy Trump, however, lying was a defense mechanism he used to cope with his father’s contempt, disapproval, and emotional distance.

Fred Sr.’s opinion of Freddy also rubbed off on his younger son, Donald. Because Fred Sr. saw Freddy as weak, incapable of success, and not worthy of respect, Donald adopted these same attitudes towards his brother.

The author recounts a story of the time Freddy became fed up with his younger brother and dumped a bowl of mashed potatoes on Donald’s head. Donald was humiliated, and according to Mary Trump, this embarrassing experience only cemented Donald’s resolve to never be humiliated again. Instead, he decided he wanted to be the one in control of and humiliating others.

Donald suffered from abandonment issues that contributed to deep insecurities, but he compensated for his low self-esteem by demonstrating arrogance and bullying others to make himself feel powerful and cover up his own feelings of low self-worth.

The Trump Family Patriarch

Fred Sr. was an emotionally distant parent, but he was strict and authoritarian with his children. Mary Trump identifies her father as a high-functioning sociopath, a liar, and indifferent to right and wrong.

Fred encouraged this type of behavior in Donald, who modeled himself after his father. As he got older, Donald continued to display arrogance and bullying behaviors, which earned him positive reinforcement from his father, who displayed similar behaviors.

With his father on his side, Donald only grew more aggressive and arrogant. Because no one held him accountable for his behavior, Donald continued to bully. He saw how his father bullied and abused Freddy, so Donald developed a tough, rigid, and callous persona to protect himself from similar treatment. He also continued to express indifference to emotion, which made it difficult for him to make friends and connect with other people.

Donald was eventually sent to military school, the New York Military Academy, which was a private boarding school in Cornwall, New York. This environment only further enforced his idea that toughness, aggression, lying, and exploiting others’ weaknesses was the only way to get ahead in life.

Fred Sr. continued to try to mold Freddy in his own image because he was determined that Freddy be his successor. Freddy had developed an interest in planes, and expressed his desire to pursue a career in the Air Force. However, Fred Sr. refused to permit him to follow his dreams and instead forced him into joining the family business.

Freddy joined Trump Management, but he was deeply unhappy in his position. He still felt that his father did not trust or respect him, and felt that he was not given enough responsibility in his position.

Freddy’s Rebellion

Freddy rebelled against his family’s wishes by marrying a stewardess named Linda Clapp, whom his parents disapproved of. He also secretly purchased and began flying a plane without his family’s knowledge.

The straw that broke the camel’s back finally came when Fred Sr. humiliated Freddy in front of all of his employees at Trump Management. Freddy quit the family company and went on to become a pilot. Freddy was the only child who established his career on his own, entirely separate from his family’s influence.

Fred Sr. viewed this decision as a personal betrayal because it undermined his authority and diminished the control he believed he should be able to exert over his family. He refused to accept or support his son’s decision. Instead, he derided his son’s choices, telling him he was an embarrassment and calling him a “bus driver in the sky.”

When he returned from military school, Donald repeated these same attacks on his brother in order to impress his father. All this verbal and mental abuse drove Freddy to abuse alcohol. He even briefly considered divorcing Linda. Because of his drinking problem, Freddy was forced to quit flying. Around the same time, his wife became pregnant with their second child, the author, Mary Trump. The extreme stress he was under only drove Freddy to drink further.

Freddy’s Fall From Grace

Out of desperation, Freddy returned to work for his father at Trump Management, taking on a project demolishing Steeplechase Park, an amusement park on Coney Island, and turning the area into a residential redevelopment. However, the project turned out to be a disaster. Trump Management, after demolishing the original Steeplechase Park, was never able to build housing on the site.

Fred Sr. continued to be abusive and disrespectful and to micromanage and belittle Freddy, and his work life was miserable. Rather than accept any responsibility for his role in the project’s failure, he blamed Freddy entirely, and Freddy accepted the blame completely. However, this only drove him to strive even more intensely for his father’s approval and acceptance.

The stress of the Steeplechase project drove Freddy into an even more unhealthy lifestyle. Freddy was also struggling to make ends meet, so he rented out both his plane and his boat to make some extra cash. However, that only led to more fighting amongst his family, and he was eventually forced to sell both. He was smoking and drinking more heavily than ever. At just 29 years old, he caught a bad cold that turned into lobar pneumonia, and he had to be hospitalized at Jamaica Hospital.

While Freddy was working for Trump Management, Donald was living in New York City and attending Fordham University, although his main interests lay not in his studies, but in pursuing women. After the Coney Island project failed, Donald saw his brother’s misfortune as an opportunity for him to take over as his father’s right-hand man at Trump Management.

Shortly after his graduation, Donald took on a position with Trump Management, receiving much more money and responsibility than Freddy, despite having only just started working. Although Freddy was more intelligent and had more real-world experience than Donald, Donald was more competitive and more willing to play the game to get ahead, so he was better at making money. This increased the tension between the two brothers, and both their work and personal relationships suffered.

The stress took a terrible toll on Freddy and Linda’s marriage. When he drank, Freddy could become abusive. They put off addressing their marriage problems until Linda couldn’t take it anymore and finally kicked Freddy out. Fred Sr. sided with Linda in the separation and helped her change the locks on their home.

The couple divorced in 1970. Despite the Trump family's substantial wealth, Linda only received 600 dollars and full custody of Mary and her older brother, Fred III, whose nickname was Fritz.

The Trumps Come Back Home

Fred Sr. promoted Donald to the position of president after just three years of working at Trump Management. The promotion, which has little real purpose or responsibility, was largely done because Fred Sr. wanted to punish Freddy. However, Fred Sr. was beginning to recognize that Donald’s confidence and boldness could be useful to the business. While he didn’t have a strong intellect or attention to detail, he wasn’t afraid to push for new ideas. Fred Sr. only gave Donald positive feedback, while blaming others when things went wrong.

Around this same time, Trump Management was being sued by the government for discriminatory practices regarding renting their properties to people of color. Donald decided to hire a lawyer to countersue the government. Although they were ultimately forced to end their discriminatory renting practices, Donald regarded the ordeal as a big win because Trump Management received a lot of publicity over the lawsuits.

Donald was also working on cultivating a slick businessman persona for himself, inspired by television and encouraged by Fred Sr. He was cheap, bossy, and always insisted on being the winner, even when he was doing something as simple as playing a ball game with his young nieces and nephews.

For the next two years, Freddy’s condition began to deteriorate. He drank more, became even more physically unhealthy, and his relationship with his daughter worsened. Freddy finally asked his father to check him into rehab, and eventually moved into his parents' attic. When Donald got married the first time, to his first wife Ivana, he did not invite Freddy, according to Fred Sr.’s wishes.

Freddy’s older sister, Maryanne, was also struggling around this time. Her husband, David, was unemployed and also struggled with alcoholism. After wanting to go back to school for a long time, Maryanne finally enrolled in law school at Hofstra University School of Law, but while she was away, her husband stole all of their savings, kicked their son out of the house, and left town. Maryanne and her son moved into the Trump family house as well, and she divorced David in 1980.

Family gatherings were often tense, and the rest of the family always tried to appease Fred Sr. Donald continued to act like he was superior to everyone, and no one would call him out because they were afraid of being ostracized like Freddy. Mary’s mother, Linda, was always treated the worst at holiday gatherings and was always being humiliated and given the cheapest gifts.

Freddy Passes Away

Unfortunately, when Freddy was only in his late thirties, he was diagnosed with a heart problem and had to have heart surgery, which took a toll on his health and appearance. Despite his heart condition, he continued to drink.

His parents began to resent the fact that they had to take care of him. It especially infuriated Fred Sr., who was angry that he did not have the power to control his son’s drinking.

By this point, Mary Trump also wanted to get away from her family. She wanted to go away to a school with more opportunities, and Freddy allowed her to go, despite Fred Sr.’s disapproval. However, she never got the chance to say goodbye to her father before she left for school. Just two weeks later, Fred Sr. called to tell her that her father had died of a heart attack. He was only 42 years old. At first, she did not believe her father was really dead, but the rest of the family would not permit her to view her father’s body.

Mary learned that in his final weeks, no one had looked after her father’s health. He went to the hospital alone after suffering his heart attack, while Donald and his wife Ivana went to the movies. After his death, no one seemed to express much care, and Mary recounted that her grandmother’s main concern seemed to be what she should wear to her son’s funeral. At the funeral, Mary’s brother gave a eulogy where he blamed the rest of the family for ostracizing Freddy.

Fred Sr. also did not allow Mary to fulfill Freddy’s final wish to be cremated and have his ashes spread in Montauk. Instead, Freddy was buried, and his cause of death was listed as “natural causes.”

Mary Learns Some Family Secrets

Mary’s grandmother suffered injuries after a thief attacked her, and she was forced to be hospitalized. Mary would visit her daily, and it was in the hospital where her grandmother began telling her more about Donald. Mary learned the first two projects Donald worked on were only successful because of Fred Sr.’s contacts, money, and experience. Because of this, he was able to successfully open one casino, but his second one was a failure.

Despite this, Donald attempted to open a third casino, and banks continued to allow him to overspend. His businesses were failing, but Donald disregarded restrictions the banks had placed on his loans and continued to spend more money. They never forced him to stop, which only bolstered Donald’s ego and his sense that he was untouchable.

By this point, Donald was running the Trump Organization, and it was failing. However, Donald refused to accept responsibility for the failure, and instead blamed the banks, the economy, and bad luck. Donald tried to steal money from his father and siblings by placing himself in charge of Fred Sr.’s will, but he refused.

Mary Goes To Work For Trump

When Mary was in her late twenties, Donald hired her to ghostwrite his third book and gave her an office in the Trump Organization. However, Mary was never able to successfully complete the project because Donald refused to cooperate or give her any useful information. She also was not provided basic necessary materials, like a computer, nor was she given a salary.

Thinking it would help her finish the book, Mary accompanied Donald and his new wife, Marla, to one of their mansions. When Mary was joining them for a swim in their pool, she recalls him telling her “Mary, you’re stacked” in front of his Marla, upon seeing her in a bathing suit.

Shortly after, Donald’s editor fired Mary, claiming they wanted someone with more experience to write the book.

Fred Sr. Passes Away

As he got older, Fred Sr. began suffering from dementia. He acted nicer as he got more forgetful, even sometimes calling Mary “nice lady.” He forgot who most of his family members were, except Donald. However, now that Fred Sr. was sick, Donald became contemptuous of his father. Rather than showing compassion, he seemed to blame Fred Sr. for his own illness, just as Fred Sr. did to Freddy.

By 1999, Fred Sr. was dying. Mary had had a secret wedding planned, which she had hidden from her family because she was marrying a woman, but she canceled her wedding to be with her grandfather on his deathbed. He passed away on June 25, 1999. At his funeral, no one seemed concerned with consoling his widow. Instead, most of the attendees only came to see Donald.

The Battle Over The Will

After Fred Sr.’s death, Mary learned that her father had been completely written out of his will. The inheritance was only divided four ways between his living children’s families, and Mary and her brother Fritz received only 0.1 percent of what was left.

The rest of the family tried to bully Mary and Fritz into accepting their 0.1 percent portion, saying that if they didn’t, they would make sure Linda lost her apartment and force them to pay additional taxes on money they hadn’t even inherited. Rather than give in, Mary and Fritz consulted a lawyer and decided to sue the rest of the family for their fair share of the money. Their decision to sue especially infuriated their grandmother, which made Mary realize that her grandmother had never really loved her and did not consider her worthy of an equal share in the family fortune.

The Trump family continued to fight the lawsuit, even cutting off medical insurance to their families, including Fritz’s son, who was ill and needed frequent medical care. They could not afford to keep fighting, so after two years, they settled the lawsuit.

Mary’s grandmother passed away on August 7, 2000, and she had Mary and Fritz erased from her will entirely.

The Trump Family Finances

The next time Mary saw her family was ten years later, at Ivanka’s wedding. She made polite conversation with Donald and caught up with her aunt Maryanne and her uncle Robert. She learned that Robert had begun working for Donald and that his business was in deep financial trouble. Donald had even asked Rob to care for Marla if anything happened to him.

Shortly after, a reporter by the name of Susanne Craig contacted Mary for information on a piece she was writing on the Trump family finances. At first, Mary did not speak to her, but she reached out to her after Donald was elected president. She delivered nineteen boxes of documents related to the Trump’s finances to Craig, which eventually helped enable her to write her expose on Donald’s tax fraud.

It wasn’t until after the New York Times published an article about the family’s finances that Mary learned that her aunts and uncles were evading taxes. She also learned that Donald had lost Fred Sr.’s fortune after he sold the estate for less than its worth. Donald had also tried to cut his siblings out of their inheritance.

Donald’s Fundamental Nature

Fred Sr.’s constant enabling of Donald’s behavior made him the man he is today. He is self-aggrandizing, has delusions of greatness, and is convinced that he has not cheated, but has earned everything that has been given to him. However, he is also needy and desperate for affirmation, which causes him to seek affirmation from his core base of supporters, even though they are the type of people he has no respect for and would condescend to in normal circumstances.

Mary believes his fundamental nature has not changed, but his behaviors have been exacerbated because of the stress he is feeling. However, his main source of stress does not come from doing the work of the presidency, because he is not concerned with doing the actual job. Rather, he is constantly stressed about making sure everyone else does not realize he doesn’t know what he is doing.

When he was running for president, Donald was treated by the media as though, underneath his eccentricities, he was a serious and mature candidate, but that is not true. Other people in his life saw that they could use his delusions of grandeur and exploit his weaknesses to serve their own ends.

Mary believes that even now, Donald is doing all his bragging and showing off to impress his dead father. He continues to deny failures, turn press briefings into mini-rallies, and lie about his accomplishments. Even in 2020, while thousands of people have been infected and have died of COVID-19, Donald refuses to admit there is a problem. Instead, he insists he has demonstrated great leadership throughout the crisis.

Donald has always lied and will continue to lie, but in his mind, the lies become the truth. He lies because for his entire life, he has gotten away with everything, and he is still trying to know how much he can get away with.

The Main Take-away

The Trump family was wealthy and privileged, but they were also very dysfunctional. Donald Trump’s mother was absent, and his father was controlling and authoritative. He wanted his children to fulfill his expectations, and when his eldest son, Freddy, failed to live up to his high demands, he turned his attention to Donald, whom he openly favored over Freddy. Fred Sr. encouraged Donald’s bullying, egotism, and greed, and Donald was always seeking his father’s approval. This has shaped him into the person he is as an adult and as a president.

About the Author

Mary Trump is a clinical psychologist, businesswoman, and bestselling author. She is the founder and CEO of The Trump Coaching Group.

She holds a B.A.in English Literature from Tufts University, and a master's degree in English Literature from Columbia University. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University.

Trump lives on Long Island, New York, with her daughter.

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