(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Donald Trump became famous in the 1980’s for his daring financial deals and used his fame to make his deals work. Like King Midas, he seemed to turn everything he touched into gold, so he had no trouble borrowing money or selling his junk bonds to the public. In his best-selling book of 1987, TRUMP: THE ART OF THE DEAL, Trump explained how he got to the top. In his new book, he tries to maintain the attitude of brash self-confidence which has always been his trademark; however, this is hard for him to do when in chapter after chapter he has to acknowledge that his deals are turning sour.

Trump had a prenuptial agreement to pay his wife a lump settlement of $25,000,000 in the event that their idyllic marriage should dissolve; however, even that deal is turning sour. Like many powerful men in the past, Trump may find that divorce pulls the coupling-pin that sends the whole train rolling backward off the track. He is currently “land poor": He is in the awkward position of having to liquidate assets at a time when the real estate market is depressed. It has been equally awkward to go back to his creditors for more cash or debt rescheduling when his King Midas image has been tarnished by bad publicity.

Trump claims that much of the bad publicity is motivated by envy and jealousy: His Taj Mahal in Atlantic City is doing just fine, and so are the Trump Shuttle and the Plaza Hotel. He put his 282-foot yacht and Palm Beach home up for sale because he got bored with being a yachtsman, and who needs a 118-room house? To hear Trump tell it, the former billionaire is happier and somehow better off as a mere multi-millionaire. Maybe money isn’t everything after all.

The book is written in the all-purpose prose that seems unavoidable in “as-told-to” autobiographies. Trumps’s collaborator Charles Leerhsen is a senior writer at NEWSWEEK magazine and has the expertise to phrase harsh truths in smooth language.