Donald Trump: Embracing Contradiction, Not Thinking Too Much
Gwenda Blair has had a very in-demand couple of months. Blair is the author of 2001’s The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire, which was adapted and re-released in 2007 as Donald Trump: Master Apprentice. Simon & Schuster is slated to publish an updated e-book this fall.
Blair recently sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss what it’s been like being a Donald Trump expert during the Summer of Trump, what we can learn about the candidate from his family history and how he’s trying to “brand” himself into the White House.
Why did you decide to focus on Donald Trump?
Well I never expected to be the expert on Donald Trump. When I originally set out to do the book, it was going to just be about Donald. But when I started looking into his background – his father and his grandfather – I was struck by how these three generations taken together are really a case study of American capitalism over the last century, or by now more than the last century. So I made the book about grandpa, dad and Donald taken together as a history of American entrepreneurship. I wanted to take a serious look at this very well known person who was mostly seen in the press as a figure of fun – somebody people were endlessly sarcastic about, but didn’t really take seriously.
Are you surprised by this latest turn in the Trump story: running for president?
Not really. He started bringing up the idea of running for president in 1987. This is his sixth time bringing it up, and it is by far the most serious of all the times, but he long ago brought up the idea that maybe he would be a good guy to be running the country.
What do you think is behind his decision to finally run?
There are a lot of elements behind his success, starting with the fact that an ancestor in the 17th Century in Germany changed the family name from Drumpf to Trump. What a terrific name, and so much easier to work with than Drumpf in the U.S. When his grandfather came to the U.S., the name had long been changed to Trump, so we could call that lucky break number one. Lucky break number two is that his grandfather came here. Lucky break number three is that his grandfather later tried to repatriate to Germany but was not allowed to because he hadn’t done military service, so the family ended up being in the U.S. Lucky break number four is that Donald’s father had been a very successful builder in the outer boroughs of New York and had both the financial resources and the political connections to help Donald make his entrée into Manhattan in the mid-Seventies to begin his meteoric career. The extra booster rocket for Donald was his grasp of branding. I don’t think even he could have grasped how significant that would be, but he put his name on everything he built, from Trump Tower on, and made himself a mega-celebrity and a branding juggernaut.
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