Book Review: The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump (1987)
Bronze Anthology Book Review
The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump (1987)
Given the recent political environment, we wanted to try and understand the ideology, inner thoughts, and motivations behind Donald Trump. The first lines of the book are fore-telling and still ring true today, “I don’t do it for the money. I’ve got enough, much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it. Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.”
In this book, you begin to grasp better insight into Trump’s pursuit of success; he simply likes to chase opportunity. And as he likes to boast about time and time again, he usually does it with other people’s money!
In Three Words
In the first chapter, there is a great sense of excitement: the comings and goings of Mr. Trump as he traverses the business world, buying large stock positions in companies, working on real estate purchases, dealing with other businessmen, lawyers, and politicians. The pace of the book starts off frenzied and exhilarating. Once the structure of the book changes, it bogs down and becomes more of a biography, which is to be expected, as it is after all a book about Trump’s business experience.
The real estate development job seems like a tough gig, especially in New York City: ungodly sums of money, loopholes through contracts and government entities, high pressure deadlines, all accompanied by substantial operating and carrying costs. While Mr. Trump seems to take a more optimistic outlook on the deals he makes, it comes across as braggadocios, which as everyone is aware, plays right into his wheelhouse in terms of his personality.
One of the main reoccurring themes in this book is that Trump always finds an inside track. He does have a way of viewing the playing field from 10,000 feet, whereas most of his real estate competitors are short-sighted. In having this big picture vantage point, he is able to manipulate and plan the development of various commercial, retail, and residential buildings of grand proportions. In hindsight, being that the book is over 30 years old, there are some interesting events that have transpired since that point in time (i.e. Trump Castle turned Trump Marina turned Golden Nugget), which would take an entirely different book review to cover.
There are many parts that are difficult to relate to for the normal person, an average Joe if you will. Most of the deals that Trump talks about are in the tens of millions, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars. He works on timeframes that run for several years. Trump takes on projects in areas that he persistently admits are in dire straits and yet, big banks still lend money for his projects. He always manages to make a profit. Even harder to grasp, he has the ability to pursue lawsuits on a whim if things begin to sour. He has access to people only a phone call away, powerful individuals the average person would never have a chance to speak with.
The best character in the entire book is Walter Hoving, the former owner of Tiffany & Co., a man true to his word and the pure embodiment of honesty and integrity. Trump gives tremendous praise to Mr. Hoving for honoring his agreement to sell air rights that would eventually pave the way for Trump Tower to be built. In the midst of securing those air rights, Trump believed Hoving would renege, to which Walter Hoving stated, “Young man, perhaps you didn’t understand. I shook your hand. I made a deal with you. That’s that.” If only everyone did business that way!
Our Bronze Star Rating
You’ll like this book if you appreciate business, speculation, real estate, city living, or even a non-fiction read about an eccentric character. If you’re expecting to find some useable tips on how to become successful or simply to get motivated, keep looking. If this book is one that’s been on your to-read list, try the audio version as it has a casual writing form and would make for easy listening.
Unfortunately, the book can be a bit of a letdown, which is why we’ve rated it two bronze stars. While chapter two seems to allude to the reader on how to make big deals (e.g. think big, protect the downside, maximize your options), he doesn’t focus on teaching the art form in the book, instead he merely provides a historical perspective on the deals he’s made. At times, he seems to sugarcoat the deals and provide general information, instead of giving an honest and thorough outline for the reader to determine what traits to acquire in becoming better at making deals. The one motivational thing that it does is to encourage you to think bigger! Trump discusses this time and again, to think grander and pursue bigger opportunities.