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IN CONCLUDING MY notes here on U.S. Presidents who could read and even write books, I move from the sublime to the present. After the likes of Presidents Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy and Theodore Roosevelt, let’s consider the current one. It has been said that President Donald J. Trump is the consummate dealmaker and that evidence of this is his authorship of the 1987 book The Art of the Deal.

The Art of the Deal, by Donald J. Trump with Tony Schwartz, Random House, 1987.

It is noted on the cover, The Art of the Deal was “The #1 National Bestseller.” Another blurb reads, “He Makes One believe in the American Dream Again.”

Indeed, The Art of the Deal stayed atop The New York Times Best Seller list for 13 weeks in 1987–1988. And, in fact, the blurb by Christopher Lehman-Haupt came from that “enemy of the American people…. FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes….).” Trump’s 2017 tweet; not mine.

Trump himself has given his book high praise. According to Western, August 12, 2015, “When one female attendee [at a Michigan Trump campaign event] raised a copy of the candidate’s book, The Art of the Deal, he responded with characteristic confidence. ‘Hold that book up, please,’ he instructed her. ‘One of the greatest. That’s my second-favorite book of all time.’ ”

His first favorite?

Indeed, Trump managed to work both first- and second-favorite books into a Martin Luther King Jr. Day convocation at Liberty University, a private Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, January 18, 2016: As noted by, Trump said, “The Art of the Deal is second to the Bible…. There’s nothing like it, the Bible.”

As Anna Russell used to say, “I’m not making this up, you know.”

Trump’s only convocation references to Dr. King were at the beginning and at the end, with a claim that his presence broke previous records for such events at the school.

Trump managed other absurdities in his Liberty convocation: He referred to the New Testament’s Second Corinthians as “Two Corinthians,” which generated another tweeter to write, “he is also a big supporter of the Two Amendment.” Trump’s claim of convocation crowd size (sound familiar?) drew another tweet noting that convocation attendance is required of Liberty students: “Saying Trump drew a ‘record crowd’ is like saying the DMV has a huge fan base.”

But enough of “truthful hyperbole,” a phrase coined in The Art of the Deal and defined as “an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.”

Might this be the father of “alternative fact”?

The Art of the Deal is part Trump bio and part business-advice book; the latter, sort of a Trump University in print.

Trump paid out $25 million to settle litigation over the TU real estate seminar program: “I settled the Trump University lawsuit for a small fraction of the potential award because as President I have to focus on our country,” he said, followed by “The ONLY bad thing about winning the Presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trail On Trump U. Too bad!”

I’m reminded again of a great Anna Russell.

The Art of the Deal itself is not without controversy: Tony Schwartz was hired to be co-author of the work, its business aspects inspired by Norman Vincent Peale’s classic The Power of Positive Thinking, 1952.

In The New Yorker, July 25, 2016, Jane Mayer’s “Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All” carries the subhead, “ ‘The Art of the Deal’ made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business. Tony Schwartz helped create that myth—and regrets it.”

Like other articles in this magazine, Jane Mayer’s piece is meticulous and free of alternative facts.

“I put lipstick on a pig,” Tony Schwartz the ghostwriter says. He feels “deep remorse.” Illustration by Javier Jaén in The New Yorker, July 25, 2016.

Schwartz hadn’t spoken publicly about his contribution until early in Trump’s presidential campaign when, according to The New Yorker interview, he “noticed something strange: over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, ‘If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.’ ”

Schwartz and Trump disagree about each other’s contribution, with the book’s $500,000 advance and subsequent royalties split 50/50. By 2016, Schwartz said he had received some $1.6 million in royalty payments. The Washington Post, September 17, 2016, ran an article by David A. Fahrenthold titled “Trump Promised Millions to Charity. We Found Less than $10,000 Over 7 Years.” Fahrenthold noted, “In the 1980s, Trump pledged to give away royalties from his first book to fight AIDS and multiple sclerosis, But he gave less to these causes than he did to his older daughter’s ballet school.”

During Trump’s presidential campaign, he called The Art of the Deal “the No. 1 selling business book of all time.” A CBS News analysis, August 11, 2016, placed its sales at 1.1 million copies.

How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, Simon & Schuster, 1936.

It has been estimated that Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, 1936, now in its third edition, has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.

Anyone for The Art of the Deal’s “truthful hyperbole”? ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2017

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This entry was posted on March 28, 2017 by in And Furthermore... and tagged , .
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