I just finished reading Mary Trump’s family tell-all, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. 

I found it fascinating and horrifying. Mary is the daughter of Fred Trump, Jr., the heir apparent to the family business. The family consisted of paterfamilias Fred Sr. and his wife Mary. Fred Jr., Elizabeth, Maryanne, Donald and Robert.

The Trump family was dysfunctional and cruel. Fred Sr. was never satisfied. He pinched pennies, long after he was a multimillionaire.

When Mary’s father Fred Jr. tried to break free of the family business, he became a TWA pilot. He was the only family member to make a way for himself on his own. But his father called him a “glorified bus driver” and harangued him until he started drinking and lost his job, then returned to the family business. Maryanne struck out on her own and became a lawyer; she married a promising many who couldn’t earn a living. Fred Sr. gave him a job as a parking lot attendant.

When Mary’s parents divorced, the divorce agreement awarded her mother $600 a month in alimony and child support. The family lived frugally, as did everyone but the parents and Donald.

Donald was sent away to military school because he was a disobedient, rude youth. When he finished school, he went to Fordham, a Catholic university in Manhattan. He didn’t think Fordham was good enough for his ambitions, so he decided to transfer to the University of Pennsylvania. Mary says that his sister Maryanne did his homework for him, and Donald hired a smart friend to take the SATs for him. When he brags about being “first in his class” at Penn, that’s hot air. He was never much of a student.

Mary describes a family dynamic in which her grandfather belittled everyone but Donald. Donald was the chosen child, the one with the hubris and arrogance that his father admired.

She says that Donald was a master of self-promotion. Whatever he did relied on the wealth and political connections of his father until he was able to cultivate his own connections. As far as she could tell, Donald failed at everything he did other than creating an image of himself as a successful businessman, which he never was. She recounts the multiple bankruptcies that never seemed to slow down his image-making.

Mary describes how Donald tried to put a piece of paper in front of his father that would have given Donald complete control of his father’s estate, putting all of his siblings at his whim. When they got wind of it, they stopped him. But when the father died, Mary discovered that the siblings had gotten the will rewritten to exclude her and her brother. Her brother had a severely disabled child who needed expensive medical care, and the family withdrew his health insurance as a club to force the two children of Fred Jr. to sign away their inheritance.

At one point in the book, Mary describes how Donald invited her to help him ghostwrite his next book. A professional ghostwriter would have demanded a share of the royalties. He refused to pay her, and when she said she needed money to buy a computer, he told her to ask the publisher. She was never able to figure out what the book was supposed to be about, and eventually she gave up trying.

The book is rich with insight and story of the Trump dynasty, a family led and controlled by a tyrant. The tyrant had only one favorite–Donald–and Fred Sr. rewarded him for his braggadocio, his lying, his cheating, and his willingness to subvert every norm.

Read the book and you will gain a lot of new insight into who this man is. He has no morals, no scruples, no ethics, no principles, no character. Yes, he is capable of shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and talking his way out of it.

He believes in nothing other than the myth of himself that he invented. He is a “self-made” man only in the sense that he believes his own P.R. He was not self-made in business; his father footed the bills and found ways to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to him and his siblings to evade taxes.

After reading this first-person account, I realized that my contempt for this man, which I thought had hit bottom, fell even lower.