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The Art of the Comeback
by Donald J. Trump and Kate Bohner
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
Before he became a politician, before he became a TV star, before he even considered either of those careers, Donald Trump was a real estate developer and dealmaker. This book is about that earlier career – written in 1997, after what Trump considers the formative event of his professional life, his near-bankruptcy in the early 1990s. In that period, Trump lost his fortune (along with just about everyone else in the real estate business), and this is the story of his comeback – how he got back to making deals and development.
The title of the book echoes The Art of the Deal, written a few years earlier – but that book was before Trump's big losses, and hence without the perspective that gave him (as detailed in this book). Therefore, this book provides a much fuller picture of Trump's business career, as he himself explains in this newer book: such as "I learned a lot about myself during these hard times" (Introduction, p. xii).
The structure of the book is one chapter per deal, with a loose definition on what counts as a "deal." There re several chapters dedicated to Trump's well-known real estate deals, but also a chapter on Miss America (he bought the pageant) and two chapters on marriage (he insists on pre-nuptials). Everyone knows that Trump lives in Trump Tower in New York City and Mar-a-Lago in Florida (which has a chapter too) – but the chapter on 40 Wall Street indicates that it's not his home, but it captured his heart. That building became the home of Trump University (see Trump 101 for more on that!).
The chapters on Mar-a-Lago and 40 Wall Street and the several other real estate deals include all sorts of details on how Trump made each deal; how he renovated the buildings; and (perhaps most important to Trump) how he ultimately made money on each deal. That level of detail reminds the reader that this really is a real estate book – with pictures of buildings at the opening of several chapters. Along the way the Trump exposes plenty about his business philosophy.
But Trump also exposes plenty about his personal philosophy, which is now intertwined with his political philosophy. Voters will be surprised (or perhaps impressed) that the Donald of the 1990s is really the same Donald as on the campaign trail in 2016. For example, Trump is his vengeful self in this book, touting "Get Even" as a business rule (it's one of his "Top Ten Comeback Tips" on the frontispiece). Some voters might think that bashing his opponents (even those who've lost) is a new political ploy – nope; he's believed in vengeance for decades. He bashes Dina Merrill, the woman who tried to block his purchase of Mar-a-Lago, calling her "arrogant and aloof" and numerous other name-calling (p. 64), which feels a lot like how he bashed Marco Rubio in 2016.
The bottom line is this: Unlike most politicians, Donald Trump personifies "what you see is what you get," and this book proves it. That crude, brutally honest, shoot-from-the-hip guy on the campaign trail is the same guy in this book. Say what you will about whether that strategy works politically, but it has served Trump well in business for decades.
-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, July 2016
The Art of the Comeback
by Donald J. Trump and Kate Bohner.
Page last edited: Mar 19, 2019