Robert Trump, baby brother of Donald Trump, has had a curious turn in the spotlight these last couple of weeks, as he has repeatedly tried to prevent the publication of Too Much and Never Enough, a new memoir by his and the president’s niece, Mary L Trump. In the book, Uncle Rob has only a bit part to play — the youngest child of five who took the path of least resistance, sliding into the executive chair of his father’s business, a mostly passive bystander to the central drama between Donald and Mary’s father, Freddy. Still, Mary doesn’t strip Rob of all personality. She remembers him as a teenager, not much older than she was, leaning against the refrigerator as he peeled back the foil on a block of Philadelphia cream cheese and ate it “as if it were a candy bar.” It’s the kind of detail — memorably specific, fundamentally human and decidedly weird — that gives this book an undeniable power, even if its narrative is bookended by Mary’s strenuous efforts to put her training as a clinical psychologist to use. She has no problem calling a narcissist, and she also identifies additional signs of antisocial personality disorder (the vaingloriousness), dependent personality disorder (the neediness) and a substance-induced sleep disorder (the dozen daily Diet Cokes). When she writes in her prologue that “Donald has been institutionalised for most of his adult life,” she isn’t referring to anything so salubrious as mental health treatment. “Institutional­isation” here refers to the gilded cosseting provided by the family name and fortune that ensured Donald would never have to survive by his own wits in the real world. But will the real world survive Mary says that American democracy will not if he gets a second term. The story she describes in Too Much and Never Enough is presented as a cautionary tale. Donald, she says, can’t help recreating a familial psychodrama that destroyed everyone it touched.

She recalls waking up at 5 am the morning after the 2016 election: “It felt as though 62,979,636 voters had chosen to turn this country into a macro version of my malignantly dysfunctional family.”

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