Rating

6

Qualities

  • Background

Recommendation

This admiring biography of real estate billionaire Donald Trump begins with a reference to Trump’s “swept-back blonde mane” – although his thinning forward comb-over is probably the most famous weird hairdo in America. Perhaps author Robert Slater picked up a bit of his subject’s tendency toward what Trump calls “truthful hyperbole.” Slater’s writing is interesting and accessible, in a breathless sort of way. However, despite being based on 150 interviews, this biography doesn’t contain a lot of information that Trump has not already disseminated through his books, TV show and softball press interviews. Slater seems to regard Trump’s exaggerations as charming foibles and, given tremendous access, apparently accepts Trump’s self-assessment that he is a skilled negotiator, shrewd investor and efficient administrator – even when the author’s own anecdotes show Trump in another guise: as a bullying micro-manager. Of course, the insight that negative publicity isn’t always a bad thing is a primary theme. getAbstract recommends this close-up meeting with Trump to general readers who find that his outsized ego, lifestyle and accomplishments hold a certain fascination and to businesspeople who just want to know how he always lands on his feet. (Hint: he delivers the goods.)

Summary

The “Mercurial” Billionaire

When business biographer Robert Slater began to research this book, Donald Trump’s lawyer sent him an e-mail claming the book would unfairly exploit Trump’s name. He warned that Trump would sue to prevent publication. As a “business friendly” writer, Slater could not understand why he received such a threat, so he decided to ignore it. About six weeks into his research, Trump called. He was friendly and confident, having heard good things about Slater from former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, whom Slater previously profiled. When Slater asked Trump about the lawyer’s letter, Trump at first implied that he didn’t know about it. Finally, he admitted that it was a routine response to potentially bad publicity. He then welcomed Slater, giving him many interviews and letting him tag along on business trips and visit the set of The Apprentice. Slater’s conclusion: Trump can afford to be “mercurial.”

Not Your Average CEO

Most business leaders shun publicity, especially about their personal lives. Neither their faces nor their names are well-known. Trump is an anomaly. He relishes the attention and exploits the public’s interest in the...

About the Author

Robert Slater has written for Time and Newsweek. He is the author of numerous business books and profiles, including: Jack Welch and the GE Way, Microsoft Rebooted, Soros: The Unauthorized Biography, The Wal-Mart Decade, Saving Big Blue, Get Better or Get Beaten! and 31 Leadership Secrets from GE’s Jack Welch.


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