cover image The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire

The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire

Gwenda Blair. Simon & Schuster, $30 (592pp) ISBN 978-0-684-80849-9

This well-balanced, serious examination of the Trump family business proves its mettle by not mentioning The Donald's love life until it approaches page 300, and even then Blair is more concerned about Ivana's influence on Trump's business sense than on his hormones. While Donald is the star of Blair's work, his father and grandfather emerge as colorful characters in their own right. Arriving from Germany in 1885, Friedrich Trump spent a brief time in New York before striking out for Alaska, where he operated combined saloon-restaurant-brothels in several gold rush towns. When things went sour, Trump returned to New York, where he opened a modest real estate office in Queens that his son, Fred Jr., would greatly expand. Taking advantage of government programs designed to spur construction during the Depression, the middle Trump made his reputation by constructing well-built houses and apartments for the middle class. Following WWII, when the government was eager to find ways to ease the housing shortage, he used his contacts in city government to become a multimillionaire and one of the biggest landlords in Brooklyn and Queens. But his son wasn't interested in the boroughs; Donald used his father's money to make his fortune in Manhattan and then in Atlantic City. Blair documents the painstaking process whereby Trump transformed the Commodore Hotel to the Grand Hyatt and made his first mark in New York. With access to the Trump family and their business associates, Blair (bestselling author of Almost Gone) gives a first-rate, firsthand account of Donald Trump's rise, fall and resurrection as a business tycoon, while also exploring the motivation that drove him to risk it all to seek even more fame and fortune. Agent, Gloria Loomis. (Sept.)