Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Making of Donald Trump, by David Cay Johnston

Staff review by Chris Saliba

A forensic investigation of Donald Trump's many business dealings over the years.

David Cay Johnston is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, specialising in economics and complex tax issues. He has been covering Trump for close to thirty years, having first met him in 1988 when working as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Johnston's first impressions were that Trump was a P. T. Barnum-like character, the nineteenth century American politician and showman.

The Making of Donald Trump was written at breakneck speed, the author's aim to make the public aware of Trump's more slimy and underhanded business practices. The book is based on many years of reporting and research. In 24 short chapters mainly covering a range of Trump's business deals, it goes into forensic detail about the mogul's byzantine tax arrangements, dodgy debt structures, unethical labor hiring practices and other financial shenanigans. There are also chapters highlighting Trump's narcissistic personality, his methods for dealing with those he considers disloyal, his litigious nature and his poor attitude to women.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of The Making of Donald Trump is how those in authority enabled him. So many times his empire came close to crashing down around his ears, whether it be through eye-watering levels of debt or breaking rules and regulations, especially with regards to his casinos. Yet time and time again regulators would give him a free pass. Often he was simply thought of as too big to fail. If the regulators had done their job properly, we wouldn't be hearing about Donald Trump today. He would have sunk as a petty businessman trying to game the system. Instead at each and every business crisis he has had powerful interests turn a blind eye or give him a leg up.

A depressing story of how the rich bend and break the rules, exploit the law, and always get what they want.

The Making of Donald Trump, by David Cay Johnston. Published by Hardie Grant Books. ISBN: 9781743792995 RRP: $29.99

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